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Posted on: Saturday, 8 August 2009

Womens Day 9 August

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Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Womens Day on the 9th August in South Africa? It has nothing to do with honouring women just because we need another “Mother’s Day”, this day commemorates the 9 August 1956 when women participating in a national march petitioned against pass laws …

(For anyone who does not know the history – “pass laws” were legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’ during the Apartheid regime).

Lillian Ngoyi © ANC

Lillian Ngoyi © ANC

On this day in 1956, over 20 000 women of all races and ages from every corner of South Africa marched together towards the Union Buildings in Pretoria Accommodation. These brave women were marching in protest against the pass laws that proposed even further restrictions on the movements of women.

Organised by the Federation of South African Women, the March was led by four brave women; Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi. The leaders delivered petitions to Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office within the Union Buildings in Pretoria Accommodation.

Women throughout South Africa had put their names to these petitions indicating their anger and frustration at having their freedom of movement restricted by the hated official passes.

To conclude the Women’s March, the women sang freedom songs such as Nkosi sikeleli Afrika, however, the song that became the anthem of the march was “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”

Photos © ANC.org

Photos © ANC.org

wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!

When you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

The march was a resounding success and South Africa recognises the bravery of these women who risked arrest, detention and banning by declaring 9 August National Women’s Day.

Related Links:
Women’s Struggle in South Africa – For anyone interested in reading up more on this topic, this link will take you to the SA History site’s page on “The turbulent 1950s – Women as defiant activists”. There is a lot of interesting information available on this site.

This link – The Women’s March, 9 August 1956 – gives a very comprehensive account of the preparations for and events of this day we now commemorate every year. Interesting reading! We salute these wonderful Women.

Photo Credits:
Photos are © ANC.org Website.

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Christine Searle


One of the original founders of SA-Venues.com, Christine enjoys spending time with her family and her fur-kids, Dexter, Sherrie and Hercules. Her love and interest in flora and fauna is evident in her stunning garden which has been carefully designed and well maintained. Christine loves her work and is keen to show others what South Africa has to offer. When she is not working she likes to relax at home in the garden or enjoy her favourite hobby, photography.

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What Others are Saying

27 comments about Womens Day 9 August
  1. August 9th, 2009 at 09:09
    Hanli Rose-Innes says:

    I found your short article about the origin of Women’s Day very helpful and interesting!

  2. May 19th, 2010 at 11:42
    Promise says:

    It was a courageous thing this women did for us and our liberation back then looking now how things have changed for better for the youth of South Africa across boader and race, social, financial and other wise… Igama lama khosikazi malibongwe, wathinta abafazi wathinta imbokodo…

  3. May 19th, 2010 at 11:54
    admin says:

    I can’t agree with you more Promise!!!

  4. July 15th, 2010 at 13:21
    zamambo mkhize says:

    I am so proud to be a South African woman, as our freedom were not fought by our men alone but the mothers of the nation too. Thank you so much BOMAMA BETHU!!!

  5. July 19th, 2010 at 12:10
    Charlene says:

    Please i want to do the big walk on the 9th of next month

  6. July 27th, 2010 at 14:18
    Tebza says:

    I’m pround to be a South African woman. Abomama bethu are brave and now we are no longer carrying domaps. They fought the system without a weapon and they won the battle. Wathinta abafazi wathinta imbokodo. Mangwna o tshwarar thipa ka fa bogaleng .

  7. July 29th, 2010 at 09:45
    stu says:

    Namuhla sikhululekile, thank you so much to those brave women.

  8. August 3rd, 2010 at 08:39
    matana masana says:

    Bomme ba tshwara thipa ka bohaleng,i know women can do it.not only in this month though out the year phambile bomme

  9. August 6th, 2010 at 10:01
    Simon Motshoge says:

    This is wonderful to remember our mothers what they done we have to respect our God great them to great us May God bless all mothers

  10. August 12th, 2010 at 17:17
    kajol says:

    women are brave people.we are so better than boys,without us they wont be in thts world.

  11. August 13th, 2010 at 14:11


  12. August 15th, 2010 at 15:06
    ntando says:

    i find this article very interesting…I’m only a teenager but very proud to be a young, female citizen of this awesome country.
    “you strike a woman…you strike a rock”

  13. March 28th, 2011 at 20:00
    rachel says:

    i find this interesting im doing a project on womans day at school

  14. April 13th, 2011 at 08:17
    hayley francke says:

    i support the fact that women should have the same rights as men.i am proud to call myself proudly south african and i am extremly proud and greatful to what al the women have done

  15. April 13th, 2011 at 08:22
    hayley francke says:

    i support the fact that women should have the same rights as men.i am proud to call myself proudly south african and i am extremly proud and greatful to what all the women have done

  16. April 13th, 2011 at 08:23
    maryam says:

    I am definately proud to called myself a proud female south african….GO S.A!!!!

  17. July 4th, 2011 at 12:40
    Tsholo Kotsedi says:

    I am proud to be a women especially a South African.I humbly thanking all bo mama who participated on the march in 1956,You’re indeed The rocks!!!

  18. July 8th, 2011 at 12:35
    owen_mshengu_sharif greenland says:

    20,000 Women marching on to Union Buildings in Pretoria on August 09, 1956 – June 16, 1976 has to be acknowledged as the cornerstone of their courageous uprising …


  19. August 8th, 2011 at 13:09
    Amanda says:

    Thank God for them, for people that changed circumstances!

  20. August 8th, 2011 at 22:57
    Angel Kekana says:

    Our mothers are as brave as a lions, they always protect what they want indeed, they have protect our country. Without u we won’t be celebrating Women’s day, re a leboga bomma

  21. August 9th, 2011 at 09:31
    NAGIHAN says:

    i’m proudly south african and proud of what the country has achieved.won’t trade my south africa for any other.womans day is the best day that happens for many woman in south africa. VIVA SOUTH AFRICA.

  22. August 24th, 2011 at 10:38
    zodwa makweya says:

    women marching on to union building in pretoria on june 16 wathinta bafazi wa thinti mbokoto!!!!


  23. August 24th, 2011 at 10:40
    zodwa makweya says:

    women marching on to union building in pretoria on june 16 wathinta bafazi wa thinti mbokoto!!!!


  24. September 28th, 2011 at 10:07
    nompumelelo mtatase says:

    thanks 4 da speech u realy helped me with my history task nd wow it rocks

  25. August 7th, 2012 at 11:51
    Daniel Kolotsi says:

    The bravery of the woman of 1956, I wish it would still apply today so that the amount of woman abuse can come to an end, we need the likes of Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa so that they can stand up and say i am fed up, this is coming to an end. All honour to the woman of 1956.

  26. August 8th, 2012 at 10:42
    Nontle says:

    To the families of the women who led the march to Union building I hope the spirit is still burning within their hearts and families and when they see South Africa now and its history there is a difference. Women in some areas are recognised as leaders eg-Gauteng premier,Eastern Cape,others are Mayors, Ministers, MECs and so forth. Thank you so much Bomama, we need to be strong like those 1956 ladies who risked their lives. Now we are FREE in SA living in surburbs not only working there, eating, schooling, playing, married with whites without any fear.

  27. September 13th, 2012 at 15:43
    Amy says:

    Thanks, really great, how should we celebrate womens day though?