Women do not want passes.

A day to commemorate the struggle of women for freedom and independent rights, even though there is a women’s day all over the world, South Africa’s Women’s day is a very specific day commemorating the 1956 March that took place at the Union Buildings. The March consisted of approximately 20 000 women who marched against the ‘pass laws’ that forced all South African who were labelled as being ‘black’ to carry an internal passport that was nicknamed the ‘pass’.

The women who took part in the march left heaps of petitions against the pass laws under the apartheid regime at the office doors of Prime Minister J. G. Strijdom. It is said that they then stood in absolute silence for an entire 30 minutes and then slowly and softly began to hum and then sing their protest song for which the words were: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! Which in English translates to “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock”.

Regardless though of the origin of the day, women all over the world have known to be the stronger species and have openly been suppressed and condemned throughout the years, in some parts of the world they still are subject to many atrocities and controlling laws and bi-laws, however, women will have always stood up in the face of adversity and come out stronger and wiser for it.


History of women’s struggles in South Africa

  • The 1910s – anti-pass campaigns
  • The 1920s – Women, employment, and the changing economic scene
  • The 1930s – Trade unionism blossoms and women become more assertive
  • Women in the schizophrenic 1940s – World War II and its aftermath turbulent 1950s – Women as defiant activists
  • Women’s resistance in the 1960s – Sharpeville and its aftermath
  • Women in the 1970s – Soweto and mounting pressure on the apartheid state
  • Apartheid crumbles – Women in the turmoil of the 1980s
  • The pre-election period – Women in the early 1990s
  • Women in the new democracy