By Nothando Siziba

As it is a norm to get a day off on the 9th of every August, many people are just excited about getting the day off, utterly ignorant of the inspiring event that lead to us celebrating Women’s Day.

The History of National Women’s Day

Women’s Day is celebrated in South Africa as it scripts the anniversary of the great women’s march to the Union Buildings in 1956. This is where they protested against the law of carrying a pass book.

The South African Government reported that about 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 August 1956 to protest against the law that was intentionally aimed at tightening the apartheid regime’s control. This required African persons to carry the “pass” in order to move freely. As they stood silently outside the prime minister J.G. Strijdom’s office door for about 30 minutes, it is recorded that they left petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures at the prime minister’s door.

According to Office Holidays, the pass was an identification document which restricted a black South African’s freedom of movement under apartheid. To enter the “white” areas one was supposed to carry the pass. The use of the pass had come into force under the Urban Areas Act, commonly known as the pass laws, of 1950.

How Women’s Day is Celebrated

In South Africa, the month of August is now dedicated to women. It is marked by several government events, such as a trade fair for women’s crafts and a convention on labour issues. It is the time where women are celebrated for their resilience, strength and their phenomenal contribution to the society and the country. On this day it has become a culture to most organisations and homes where women are showered with gifts, such as chocolates and flowers, just to mention a few.

With South Africa being one of the countries with many talented singers, a song was composed in honour of this unforgettable occasion recorded in history. This song says, “Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ imbokodo!” (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock).

In applauding the good work that women do and the fearless character in them, Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “The best protection any woman can have… is courage.” Wishing all the women a Happy Women’s Day!

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