In South Africa, August is Women’s Month, the time we celebrate women for their strength, resilience and contribution to society and to the country. And on 9 August, Women’s Day which is so much more than a day off for you to relax and spoil the phenomenal females in your life. It is an important day in our nation’s history, that is commemorated with a public holiday for good reason.

The reason we celebrate Women’s Day

Women’s Day in South Africa pays homage to the women of our nation who fought against the Apartheid government. 

Celebrated since 1994, this public holiday commemorates a 1956 protest by members of the FSAW (Federation of South African Women). Some 20 000 women marched up to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom’s offices. They were protesting against the carrying of pass books.

This was a law that stated black citizens has to carry pass books in an effort to restrict their movements. It was one of the most hated laws that resulted in many protests, not just the women’s march. In 1918 Charlotte Maxeke and the Bantu Women’s League launched an anti-Pass campaign. They hoped to force the government to abandon the use of passes for women completely. In the mid 50s the Apartheid government were coercing women from rural areas into carrying pass books, which sparked outrage.

The 1956 protest was made up of mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who decided enough was enough and did something to initiate change. Not only did the march, they stood outside Union Buildings in silence for 30 minutes, in non-violent powerful display.

Here are creative ways to get involved and make a difference during Women’s month:    

– Get in touch with your local domestic violence shelter group and offer life skills services.
– Sew simple cloth sanitary pads for girls who miss school due to lack of sanity pads.
– Encourage girls to join or start women empowerment clubs.
– Start a feminist book club! Read books by female authors, mentors young school girls.
– Wear something purple in honour of the suffragettes on Women’s Day (9 August) and get together with your female friends to celebrate Women’s Day.
– Get involved with of Women’s networking groups such as Life line, ZAZI, Soul City Institute, SANAC Women’s Sector, RISE, Positive Women’s Network (PWN) and Caring4Girls.

Educate our girls today, empower women of tomorrow