By Humairaa Mayet
On 9 August 1956, approximately 20 000 women of all races, classes, and ages marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, protesting against the introduction of pass laws which were set to be imposed on black women by the Prime Minister, J.G. Strijdom. Led by iconic figures such as Lillian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyne; illustrating that their protest was representative of all major racial groups in the country. These women carried petitions with thousands of signatures, calling for equal pay, education, housing, and child care provisions. Many petitions also aimed to stop the implementation of pass laws.
The women marched peacefully, picketing, and chanting “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo” (you strike a woman, you strike a rock), which later became a rallying cry for women across the country.
64 years later, South Africa commemorates those brave women and many others who have made remarkable strides over the years.
Although South Africa has taken revolutionary measures to protect women, such as women’s rights being enshrined in the Constitution and an entire taskforce being allocated to the protection of the rights of women, South Africa is one of the most dangerous places for women in the world.
With ridiculously high femicide and domestic violence rates which have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown, the South African government has failed to protect the women of the country.
We must continue to fight against the systemic oppression and violence faced by women on a daily basis in an attempt to make South Africa a safe haven for all.
Featured image via Flickr.