South Africa’s National Women’s is this Sunday (9 August 2009). This day is more than just a celebration of femininity; it actually holds historical significance for all South Africans. This national holiday was instituted in 1994 in honour of the events of 1956.
On 9 August 1956, about 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the proposed changes to the “pass law” (Urban Areas Act) by the Apartheid government.
Helen Joseph, Lillian Nogyi, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn led the march, under the banner of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). They delivered a signed petition with 100,000 signatures to Prime Minister J.G Strijdom.
The women stood quietly for about half an hour, many of them with their children or the children in the charge on their backs. They sang a protest song “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!”, which is known as “You strike a Woman, you strike a Rock”.
A 50-year anniversary march was held in 2006, which was attended by many of the original march attendees.
We solute these women and thank them for their courage and their contribution to women’s rights and our democracy.
To all the women of South Africa:
Have a joyous long weekend and a wonderful Women’s Day. Let your light shine in the darkness and remember: You are a rock!