National Women's Day
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National Women's Day is an annual public holiday in South Africa on 9 August. This commemorates the national march of women on this day in 1956 to petition against the pass laws that required South Africans defined as "black" by The Population Registration Act to carry a '"pass," an internal passport that severely restricted their movement. Each "pass" designated specific urban/metropolitan areas in which the bearer was authorized to live, work and travel. Within such areas, black South Africans were required to carry and produce their "pass" at all times, and were arrested if without one. As such, it served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era.
On 9 August 1956, more than 50,000 women staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass laws) of 1950. They left bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at prime minister J.G. Strijdom's office doors. Outside they stood silently for 30 minutes, many with their children on their backs. The women sang 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 54 years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: "you strike a woman, you strike a rock") has come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.
Since 9 August 1994, the day has been commemorated annually and is known as "Women's Day" in South Africa. In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.
- "MaBaard gets a special place", Diamond Fields Advertiser 11 August 2009 p 3
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