Sophia Williams-De Bruyn

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Sophia Williams-De Bruyn
Born 1938
Villageboard, Port Elizabeth
Known for anti-apartheid activist

Sophia Theresa Williams-de Bruyn (born 1938) is a former South African anti-apartheid activist. She was the first recipient of the Women's Award for exceptional national service. She is the last living leader of the Women's March.[1]


Williams-De Bruyn was born in Villageboard, an area that was home to people of many different nationalities.[2] She says that her mother's compassion for others helped her develop a sense of empathy.[3] She dropped out of school and started working in the textile industry.[1] Workers in the Van Lane Textile factory asked her to help "solve their problems with factory bosses," and she eventually became the shop steward.[2] She later became and an executive member of the Textile Workers Union in Port Elizabeth.[2]

Williams-De Bruyn was a founding member of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU).[2] After the government introduced the Population Registration Act in the 1950s, she was appointed as a full-time organizer of the Coloured People's Congress in Johannesburg.[1]

On August 9, 1956, she led the march of 20 000 women on the Union Buildings of Pretoria along with Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph[4] and Albertina Sisulu to protest the requirement that women carry pass books as part of the pass laws.[1] After the Coloured Population Act passed, Williams-De Bruyn was assigned by the Coloured People's Congress to work with Shulamith Muller on issues relating to pass laws.[2]

In 1999, Williams-De Bruyn was awarded the Ida Mntwana Award in Silver.[5] In 2001, she was the first to be awarded the Women's Award for exceptional national service and in the same year received the Mahatma Gandhi Award.[5]

She is currently a provincial legislator in Gauteng Province for the ANC.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ndaba, Baldwin (9 August 2006). "Memories of the Long March to Freedom". The Star. Retrieved 13 September 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sophia Theresa Williams de Bruyn". South African History Online. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Chernick, Ilanit (26 August 2015). "'Women Still Need to Be Assertive'". IOL. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Blue plaque on the front of Rahima Moosa House mounted in 2013 as part of Johannesburg Heritage.
  5. ^ a b "Sophia Williams-De Bruyn". SAWW Annual Awards. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 

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