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: