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Why we celebrate Women's Day in SA

Posted Wed, 8 Aug 2012 (21 months ago)

South Africa celebrates Women’s Day this year on Thursday 09 August 2012.

While many might think this is a kind of second Mother’s Day for women whether or not they have children, and use it as a good excuse to spend a day being pampered at a health spa or shopping for shoes, that’s not really what Women’s Day is all about.

How it all began

On 09 August 1956, 20 000 women participated in a national march in protest of pass laws (apartheid legislation that required people of colour to carry identity documentation to prove that they were allowed to enter a ‘white’s only’ area).

Four women led the march which had been organized by Fedsaw (Federation of South African Women. They were

Helen Joseph
Rahima Moosa
Sophy Williams and
Lilian Ngoyi
(pictured right)

These were women of all races and ages who got together from all over South Africa and marched on the Pretoria Union Buildings, goaded into action by the fact that the law was about to be changed to restrict ‘African’ women’s freedom movement even further. They delivered their petitions, signed by frustrated and angry women across the land, to then Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office, then sang freedom songs including the well known, powerful one

“When you strike the women, you strike a rock”

So use the day off to pamper yourself, to have fun with your family, to come and go as you please – but remember if it wasn’t for these brave women many of us would not enjoy the freedom we have today to do these simple things.



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