Johannesburg — About 500 schoolchildren marched in central Johannesburg on Friday to protest against increasing levels of violence against women and children.
This was part of their participation in International Women's Day.
Metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the marchers did not hand over a memorandum, but marched peacefully along Eloff, Plein, and Webber streets.
The African National Congress said no one could truly be free unless women were free.
"We bow our heads to the progressive women of the world for having consistently fought to reclaim their position in society," spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
"It is as a result of many years of hard-fought battles... that women have registered a number of victories."
Mthembu said he was disheartened that violent crimes against women and children continued.
"The ANC will spare neither strength nor effort in confronting and ultimately defeating this scourge."
He called on communities and men to take a stand against the crime, which sought to "dehumanise women".
"The ANC believes that no one can be truly free unless our women are free. Similarly, no man can truly regard himself as a real man until he stands up and defends the rights of a woman."
The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (Saccawu) said it supported calls for action to eliminate gender-based violence.
"Saccawu stands in solidarity with the millions of women and gender activists who are taking a stand against the increasing levels of violence against women," its gender co-ordinator, Patricia Nyman, said in a statement.
"Violence against women is on the increase, and we cannot stand aside and continue to watch the barbaric acts of rape and sexual violence being perpetrated. We have to act against it."
The ANC Women's League said the struggle for women was far from over.
"It has been a traumatic few months for the women of South Africa, where we have seen violence against women put under the spotlight [with] extremely disturbing incidents of rape and murder [being reported]," said spokeswoman Troy Martens.
"The people of South Africa are finally putting their foot down... and [are] saying enough is enough."
The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union said working women were still objects of harsh exploitation by a "vicious" capitalist system.
"They work mainly in part-time, unprotected jobs, where they are being paid less than their male counterparts," said spokesman Sizwe Pamla.
"They find themselves with inadequate pensions and are the first to be retrenched during job cuts."
The Federation of Unions of SA called on President Jacob Zuma and other leaders to take a stronger approach towards eliminating violence against women.
Fedusa would be implementing a project on sexual harassment in an attempt to prevent violence against women in the workplace, it said.
The campaign United for Iran called on Iranian authorities to put an end to their "systematic assault" on women's rights.
"We also honour those activists whose struggle to end discrimination comes at great personal risk," it said.
The department of communication said violence against women had reached unacceptable levels in South Africa.
It said technology, such as mobile phones, had helped women protect themselves when they were in danger.
The FW de Klerk Foundation said despite progress made by women in various fields, many of the almost 3.5 billion women on the planet faced discrimination, violence and repression on a daily basis.
"South Africans ought to seriously reflect on the current situation facing many women and girls in our country, especially violence and gender-based violence... ."