August is marked as a month for the women of South Africa, particularly the 9th of August.  But what makes this day / month so special?

Women’s day in South Africa is a public holiday marking the famous march which took place in 1956 where some 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.  The march was in protest against the South African governments pass laws, which required people designated as “black” to apply for a travel pass to travel within South Africa.  The objective was to maintain segregation and control migrant labour, which was all part of the general apartheid policy of the time.

Women of all races were outraged about these restrictions and what apartheid stood for. The women petitioned the government to change these policies.  Once reaching the Union Buildings the women stood silently in protest for half an hour outside and then sang a song, with the now famous verse:

“You strike the women, you strike a rock!”
The brave women who led this march were Lilian Ngoyi, Sophia Williams, Rahima Moosa, and Helen Joseph.  They risked the full brunt of the law in their efforts to promote change.  Efforts which eventually paid off.  In 1994, women accounted for less than three percent of the South African parliament.  Today, they make up over 40 percent of that body.  In light of this story, nothing seems more fitting than the following quote:
“There is nothing more powerful than a women who is determined to rise” – Unknown Author