On 9 August 1956 Lilian Ngoyi along with Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn led a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the apartheid government requiring black South Africans to carry passbooks as part of the pass laws of the time. These were special ID documents that infringed on their freedom of movement.
Women’s Day is a public holiday in South Africa, commemorating the march led by these five remarkable women of different races who dropped off petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures.
Excerpt from the petition containing more than 100 000 signatures
“We, the women of South Africa, have come here today. We represent and we speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands of women who could not be with us. But all over the country, at this moment, women are watching and thinking of us. Their hearts are with us.
“We are women from every part of South Africa. We are women of every race. We come from the cities and the towns, from the reserves and the villages. We come as women united in our purpose to save the African women from the degradation of passes.”
Are you a trailblazer?
An inspiring display of political strength, female solidarity and inner fortitude, the march is both a reminder of the great women who helped mould South Africa and the trailblazing women who continue to lead the country forward.