South Africa Women's Day

South Africa Women's Day

August 9
On August 9, 1956, a protest march was held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, the country's main government offices. Approximately 20,000 women participated in a peaceful march to protest against policies that restricted the rights of African women. These policies were intended to "tighten up control of movement of African women to town, registration of their service contracts, and a compulsory medical examination for all African women town-dwellers." They were protesting in part against pass laws, which governed the movement of all blacks, with special restrictions for women. The law required all black women to carry passes, which were special identification documents to show that they were allowed to enter areas that were for white people only.
The Federation of South African Women (established in 1954 to set up a broad-based women's organization) staged the protest march to challenge the idea that "a woman's place is in the kitchen." When the women arrived at the Union Buildings, they carried petitions signed by more than 100,000 people to give to J.G. Strijdom, the prime minister. Then they sang a freedom song composed specifically for the march:
Wathint' abafazi, Strijdom!
Wathint' imbokodo uzo kufa!
(Now you have touched the women, Strijdom!
You have struck a rock! You will be crushed!)
This song has come to represent the women's movement in South Africa.
Every year, on August 9, people gather at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Amphitheatre in Cape Town to celebrate National Women's Day. South African men, women, and children celebrate the achievements of women—not only from South Africa but also from all over the world. This day is celebrated to remind people of the contributions and achievements women have made to society and for women's rights, and to acknowledge the difficulties and prejudices many women still face.
Leading up to National Women's Day is the annual Women in Focus program, workshops that are intended to enlighten, inform, and entertain women with a series of innovative and celebratory programs.
CONTACTS:
South Africa Government
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa
www.info.gov.za
V&A Waterfront Head Office
Portswood Close
Portswood Ridge
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa
www.waterfront.co.za
References in periodicals archive ?
This article, produced during a GL "Business Unusual" training workshop, is part of a South Africa Women's Day series from the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.

Full browser ?