On 9 August 1956, more than 20,000 South African women of all races creeds and cultures staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the proposed amendments to the much hated Pass Laws the Amendments would have imposed even more restrictions on women .The women left a petition of 14,000 signatures. The women then stood silently for 30 minutes and then started singing 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 years since, the phrase “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa .
Today (August 9th) we celebrate National Women’s Day and we draw attention to the significant Human Rights Issues South African women still face, particularly Gender-Based Violence, Domestic violence, Sexual Harassment especially in the workplace, Unequal Pay, and schooling for all girls. Today is a day to honour those 20’000 South African Women and remind ourselves that the fight for Human Rights especially Women’s Rights continues. Today is an opportunity to pay tribute to the many heroines of the women’s struggle not just in South Africa but Globally by advancing the empowerment of women and pursuing the defeat of patriarchy
August 9 is recognised as a National Public Holiday and the month of August is recognised as Women’s Month in South Africa. This year’s celebrations are of special significance as 2018 marks the centenaries of globally recognised Struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.