History  

South African National Women's Day

South African National Women’s Day is a public holiday celebrating the courageous acts of 20,000 plus women, of all races and creeds, who united and marched on the South African government in protest of legislation requiring “Black” South Africans to carry an internal passport, known as a "pass".  The Population Registration Act served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and manage migrant labor during one of the most oppressive moments in South African history.  The march was led by Sophia DeBryn, Lilian Rahima Moosa and Helen Joseph.  The strength of these women is so significant because they organized and assembled themselves in the midst of apartheid on August 9, 1956.  In 1956, such an act was highly illegal and punishable by law.  In remembrance of how these women changed the fabric of South Africa, the government declared August 9th as a national holiday in 1995.  The day has been celebrated ever since as a day to honor South African women and women across the globe who have paved the way for others to emulate.  It is also a day that gives South Africans time to reflect on the ongoing struggles that women face today.