9 August Women's Day in South Africa.

Today, 9 August 2023, is National Women's Day in South Africa.   It celebrates Women.  August is National Women's Month here.   It is in commemoration of the historic Women's March in 1956.  The Day's message to the world is: your success depends on not fighting in separate worlds but resolving the differences and unifying.  This is also my happiness message to all women around the globe.  

A repost of what I wrote on 9 August 2021.

A picture of the South African women's march in 1956
1956 Women's March: photo courtesy- of- SA history- website

 8 March is International Women's Day, and 9 August is South Africa's National Women's Day.  And August is celebrated here as National Women's Month.  I wish all women a happy Women's Day today. 

Now the question is, why does South Africa celebrate women separately?  Before South Africa became an independent nation in 1994, it celebrated 8 March as international women's Day.  

What happened on 9 August 1956?

On 9 August 1956, the women in South Africa marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the institutionalised racial discrimination and apartheid laws implemented in 1948 by the White-only elected government.  Apartheid meant keeping apart, the same as caste discrimination in India.  (The difference in India is it is not by law and is still kicking and alive there.) 

An image of the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956
Photo Credit: Getty Images.

It was implemented through laws like pass laws.  In 1952, it passed the Native Laws Amendment Act to legally restrict the Black women's movement by introducing the Passes and Permits.  The implementation waited until 1954 for the Passes and 1956 for the Permits.  And the laws made Black women suffer the most. 

Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW)

Women of all races-Black, White, Indian, and Coloured came together.  They formed the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW or FSAW) to protest the Passes and Permits and other discriminative practices. 

One hundred and forty-six delegates representing 230,000 women have attended its founding conference.  Its constitution set up objectives "to secure full equality of opportunity for all women, regardless of race, colour or creed; to remove social, legal and economic disabilities; to work for the protection of the women and children."  

In the Women's Charter drafted at the first conference, they demanded, among other objectives for, "the enfranchisement of men and women of all races; equality of opportunity in employment; equal pay for equal work; equal rights concerning property, marriage and children; and the removal of all laws and customs that denied women such equality."   

1956 women's march

A few other demands were: 

  • The 'tribal law' of the pre-industrial society that put African women as 'perpetual minors' 'under the permanent tutelage of their male guardians' should get abolished. 
  • Men cannot think of being liberated from the evils and injustices 'unless they extend to women complete and unqualified equality in law and practice.' 
  • No one section of the people or the entire nation achieves freedom if the women remain in bondage.   

The Republic of South Africa in 1994.

South Africa became independent and a republic in 1994.  It abolished all apartheid laws and set up its constitution, and the elected African National Congress (ANC) came into power.  All demands by the FEDSAW got incorporated into the 'Freedom Charter' of the African National Congress, which served as a guiding document informing the South African Constitution.


  • As a woman born and raised in India and living in South Africa, I can experience the differences in terms of woman's freedom here.  I don't mean it's problem-free; patriarchy rears its ugly head here, but women have better legal recourse to meet the offences they meet. 

  • To celebrate the joint voice the women here have achieved through their joint march of 9 August 1956, the nation celebrates 9 August and National Women's Day here.  
  • The women's struggle is not yet over here, many are still facing economic disparities, and the fight for that continues.  
  • Every time I read about that historical march: I feel humbled.  I greatly owe a lot to those women's personalities of that historic march.  
  • I wish women all over the world a happy Women's Day celebration
  • I celebrate the Day by writing this post and then cooking some dishes.  My husband is already busy cooking lunch for both of us in the kitchen. 
  • Would like to know how you celebrate the Day.
Today, 9 August 2023, South Africa celebrates Women's Day.  I wish women all over the world happiness and celebrations.  Women of the world, your success depends on not fighting in separate sections but resolving the differences and unifying.  This is my happiness message to all women around the globe.  

A collage of food and friends for Women's Day celebration
A collage of Women's Day celebration

And what is a National Women's Day celebration without food and friends?