2 Women’s Day, celebrated annually on 9th August, commemorates the revolutionary march of 20,000 women of all races from every corner of South Africa to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest of the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950 (commonly known as the pass laws), on 9th August 1956“Pass laws” were legislation that required African persons to carry a document (pass) on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’ during the Apartheid regime.
3 The march was organised by the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). Many of the African women wore traditional outfits, some wore outfits in Congress colours (green, black & gold) to the march, while most Indian women were clothed in white saris.Many women had babies on their backs and some domestic workers brought their white employers' children along with them.
4 Four women (Sophie Williams, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi & Rahima Moosa) who led the August 9th 1956 march, delivered petitions containing more than signatures from Women throughout South Africa to Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office at the Union Buildings; while the rest of the women remained outside.The petitions were handed over to the secretary of the prime minister as Prime Minister was not at the Union Buildings.
5 "Wathint' abafazi,wathint' imbokodo, (When you strikethe women, After the petitions were handed over, the women stood in absolute silence for a full half hour, with their hands raised in theCongress salute(i.e. right fist in the air).The women then concluded the march by singing freedom songs like Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika and a new song that became the anthem of the march:"Wathint' abafazi,wathint' imbokodo,(When you strikethe women,you strike a rock)”Even today, this song still continues to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa!!!
6 FEDSAW (formed in 1954), first organised a Women's March against ‘passes’ on October , but it was the second demonstration which took place in August , that had the biggest impact.The 1956 August 9 Women's March was a spectacular success and a remarkable achievement for FEDSAW, a body that was barely 2 years old.The march was such a resounding success for the country, that August 9 was declared ‘Women’s Day’Since 9 August 1994 the day has been commemorated annually in recognition of the bravery of 9 August 1956 women who risked arrest, detention and banning.In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.
7 Photos from 2006 Women’s Day Celebration 50th Anniversary:A Reenactment of 09 August 1956 March Theme: ‘WE REMEMBER, WE CELEBRATE AND HONOUR, AND WE CONTINUE TO MARCH FORWARD TOWARDS EQUITY AND EQUALITY FOR ALL WOMEN’ (quoted from 2006 UWC newsletter)
8 2011 marks the 55th Anniversary of Women’s Day Celebration in South Africa. Theme for the Celebrations:
9 Let us continue to salute these wonderful Women of 1956 who risked so much for us South Africans! Lets us not stop celebrating all the women of South Africa who continue to put their own needs behind that of the nation, communities, and families!!!!Let us continue to strive for women empowerment, equality and transformation in all spheres of life!!
10 Happy Women’s Day Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!!!!