Women’s month: when 20,000 women made history

momen's month march

During Women’s month, in South Africa, we celebrate the fervent spirit of more than 20 000 women, who marched to the Union Building in protest against unequal rights for women.

Leading the march on August 9, 1956, were Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn to protest the extension of pass laws to women. 

August 9 is a celebration of historical women, whose actions had ignited a new dawn for all women in South Africa. It’s also a time to reflect on the achievements of women in society.

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It’s also a time to raise awareness of issues women face worldwide and highlight the needs of women – as many are still discriminated against at home, school, work and society. Many still have less exposure to education and economic opportunities. 

According to Lerato Ndlovu, deputy secretary of the University of Pretoria’s Student Representative Council, women should claim August as their month in South Africa.

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“August is our month in South Africa – as women we need to understand that we are here to build empires and legacies, sit at the table and fix the world’s crises. We can also create new literature that resonates with our voices, and dismantle systems that have continued to suppress and oppress. 

“We are here to disrupt the order of this world. And that, for me, is exhilarating, tiring and scary at times – but ultimately, exhilarating.”

Since 1994, August 9 has been commemorated each year as a national public holiday.