National Women’s Day in South Africa

August 16, 2016


Celebrated annually on the 9th of August, National Women’s Day is a South African Public holiday honouring the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the apartheid government. Legislation required African individuals to carry a ‘pass’ identifying them as a black South African. The women who marched, left petitions with over 100,000 signatures at Prime Ministers J.G Strijdom’s office doors and stood outside in silence for 30 minutes.

“The women sang a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.). In the 54 years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: "you strike a woman, you strike a rock") has come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa”.

The march was led by Lilian Masediba Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie Williams. Other participants included Frances Baard, a statue of whom was unveiled on National Women's Day 2009.


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