Celebrate National Women’s Day on August 9, an annual South African holiday. This event commemorates the approximately 20,000 women who marched around the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 — they were petitioning against South Africa’s laws requiring people of color to carry an internal passport. These” pass books” were developed to preserve segregation and control migrant labor and urbanization. The women successfully gathered petitions with 100,000 signatures and left them at the Prime Minister’s office. The women protesters also stood in silence for 30 minutes and concluded by singing a protest song that inspired today’s slogan: “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.”
National Women's Day timeline
Its 50th anniversary
A march is reenacted to honor the 1956 march — with many of the original march veterans in attendance.
A statue is erected
On August 9, the Malibongwe Embokodweni statue is unveiled in Pretoria to honor the 1956 event.
A committee is formed
The Monument Steering Committee is created to design a monument in honor of the original 1956 event— its judging panel consisted of a veteran from the 1956 march, a member of the President’s office, a designer, a curator and three artists.
The holiday is established
The first National Women’s Day is celebrated.
The women march
The first women’s march takes place on this day and ultimately inspires the creation of National Women's Day.
National Women's Day Activities
Host a viewing party
Every year on this day, the South African government’s official National Women’s Day event is televised, so pick a location where you and your friends, coworkers and family members can all come together to watch and celebrate. Not only are there speeches and panel discussions on education, humanitarian causes, politics and workplace issues; but the South African president also releases the latest “Status of Women Report.”
Set up a fundraiser
National Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity for you to throw a fundraiser that supports female-focused South African charities like POWA, 18tewenty8, Agenda Feminist Media and BWOYA. Bake sales, walks or runs, barbecues and raffles are all fun and festive ways to support women and raise money for women in need.
Organize an excursion
Going back to the origins of something can be empowering, so plan a tour at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. It was these very buildings that the 1956 march fought against, so this is the perfect way to celebrate the day.
5 Shocking Facts About Female Advancements In South Africa
White women receive a new right
White women received the right to vote in 1930.
Women of color can vote
More than five decades after white women received the right to vote, women of color received this right in 1983.
The first female is elected into Parliament
Leila Wright becomes the first female to join Parliament in 1933.
The first female is elected into the ANC
Lilian Masedeiba Matabane Ngoyi was the first female elected to serve on the execute committee for the African National Congress (ANC) — she also helped launch the Federation of South African Women.
Women of all races join the military
The South African National Defense Force included women of all races beginning in 1995 and appointed Brigadier Jackie Sedibe, the first woman to be promoted to the rank of major general, to ensure women were being treated fairly.
Why We Love National Women's Day
It’s a reminder of progress
National Women’s Day will forever be a reminder of the strong women who fought for the rights of women today. However, it’s also an opportunity for women to continue to come together and keep fighting for equality.
It continues the fight for good causes
While the original National Women’s Day accomplished its mission, the women of today still know the fight continues. Because of this, National Women’s Day serves the purpose of drawing attention to the issues South African women are still fighting, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, parenting issues, education for girls and unequal pay.
It empowers women
Although August 9 is the official National Women’s Day, the whole month now consists of many government events that support women, such as trade fairs that showcase female businesses and conventions that discuss the labor issues women are still battling today.