The story behind Women’s Day

2017-08-09 06:03

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

WOMEN’S Day is an annual public holiday in South Africa on August 9. The holiday commemorates the national march of women on this day in 1956 to petition against legislation that required African persons to carry the “pass”.

The pass was an identification document which restricted a black South African’s freedom of movement under apartheid. The pass allowed them to enter “white” areas. The pass had come into force under the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass laws) of 1950.

On August 9, 1956, 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against proposed amendments to the act.

They left petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at prime minister, J.G. Strijdom’s, office door, standing silently outside the door for 30 minutes.

The women then 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 60 years since, the phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa. In 2006 a re-enactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans attending.

August is now dedicated to women and is marked by several government events, such as a trade fair for women’s crafts and a symposium on labour issues.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...



Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.