History of Women’s struggle in South Africa

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A decade by decade events account of the women’s struggle in South Africa

1905

Charlotte Maxeke, formerly a Kimberley schoolteacher, becomes the first South African Black woman to receive a Bachelor's degree.

While on a choir trip to the United States (US) Institute of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) with the help of Bishop Henry Turner, she decides to stay behind and study further, and duly enrolls at the Wilberforce University in Cleveland.

She also becomes the first Black female parole officer for juvenile delinquents, and runs an employment agency for Black women.

Maxeke becomes involved in many issues affecting Blacks in her time, from campaigning against the pass book laws to supporting trade union movements and exploring the concept of African unity.

1908

January 7, After passing her exams, Cecilia Makiwane is registered as a nurse and becomes the first Black professional nurse in South Africa. She resumes work at the Lovedale Hospital and serves the hospital for many years.

1913

September 23, Women protests led by Charlotte Maxeke take place in the Orange Free State, resisting government attempts to impose passes on women. Passes are burnt in front of the municipal offices.

October 21, Transvaal women satyagrahis begin defiance activities by hawking without licenses in Vereeniging. They are not arrested. They cross the Natal border and encourage the miners in Newcastle to strike.

Phoenix settlement satyagrahis, including five women who cross the Natal-Transvaal border, are arrested and sent to prison in Pietermaritzburg.

Among the protest marchers of the Great March is 16 year old Valliamma Mudaliar, a tall, charming and energetic Tamil girl.

November 6, At 6:30am Mohandas Karamchand (MK) Gandhi leads Great March, including 127 women, 57 children and 2037 men from Charlestown.

December 22, Valliamma Mudaliar is arrested along with others and sentenced to three months rigorous imprisonment in Pietermaritzburg jail. Since Mudaliar is young and cannot not cope with the rigours of prison life, (which includes inhuman treatment at the hands of the jailors), she falls seriously ill and becomes bedridden.

1914

January 27, A petition is written and submitted by the Black and Coloured women of the Orange Free State (OFS) against the carrying of passes by women.

February 11, Under an agreement with General J.C. Smuts, Gandhi secures Valliamma Mudaliar's release, before the expiry of her jail term. But even by then her life is hanging by a thread.

February 22, Sixteen year old Valliamma Mudaliar dies in her house in Johannesburg of a fever contracted in prison.

Mourning her in Indian Opinion, Gandhi writes: "We have lost one of the holy daughters of India. She has done her duty courageously without bothering about the consequences. She is the paragon of tolerance, self-respect and character, which are the hallmarks of virtuous women. I believe that her example will not go in vain."

July 14, To commemorate her memory, the Indian community in South Africa decides to build a hall. But the project does not reach fruition. Instead, a memorial stone is erected in her honour in Johannesburg.

1918

The Bantu Women's League of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) is formed under the leadership of Charlotte Maxeke as result of the introduction of Pass laws. A delegation is sent to Prime Minister Louis Botha to discuss the issue of Passes for Black women.

1919

A protest is held in the Orange Free State (OFS) against the carrying of passes by women.

1921

November, Mary Fitzgerald is the first female City Councillor in Johannesburg.

1922

The first significant action by women in the rural areas occurs in Hershel. Boycott of stores as a result of price hikes, using passive resistance tactics that had been used earlier in the Orange Free State.

1928 - 1929

The Durban Beer Protests occur in opposition to liquor acts that extend the scope of police raids on the brewers, which are usually women.

1928

Edwin Mofutsanyana's wife and organiser of the historic 1956 women's march, Josie Palmer, is active in campaign against residential permits.

1930

White women get the vote. This means that in effect the weight of the black vote is decreased from 3.1% to 1.4%. The first restrictions against the urbanisation of Black women are introduced. The reason the government gives for this is so as to decrease prostitution and illegal brewing in urban areas.

1931

Establishment of the Women's section of the Communist Party, as a result of issues such as beer-brewing and food prices.Fifteen-year old Sarah Rubin, later Carneson, whose parents were founder members of South African Communist Party (SACP), joins the Young Communist League.

1932

Founding member of the Federation of South African Women, Hilda Watts, later Bernstein joins the South African Labour Party League of Youth.

1933

Pixley Seme, president of the African National Congress (ANC), uses the votes of women to ensure his re-election as president of the organisation.

1934

Sarah Carneson joins the SACP. She teaches workers to read and write at the SACP's night school.

Esther Susanna Mentz travels to Germany to study music and acting.

1935

The National Council for African Women is founded at the All African Convention with Charlotte Maxeke as president. This organisation is concerned with the welfare of women and members are usually teachers and nurses.

The first group of Indian girls matriculate in South Africa.

1936

Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman's daughter Zainunnisa Cissie Gool founds the National Liberation League and becomes its first president.

September 26, Nomzamo Zaniewe Winnifred Mandela, ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, is born at Bizana in Pondoland, Transkei.

1937

Very strict regulations are introduced regarding the urbanisation of women as part of influx control.

1938

Sarah Carneson works for National Union of Distributive Workers and is secretary of the Tobacco Workers' Union.

Cissie Gool represents District Six on the Cape Town City Council. She is the only woman Councillor for many years and the first Coloured woman to sit on the council. She serves on the council until 1951.

1940

Cissie Gool is elected president of the Non-European United Front (NEUF).

Hilda Bernstein joins the Communist Party.

Josie Palmer becomes a member of the CPSA's Johannesburg Committee

1941

African National Congress (ANC) makes a resolution at a congress that the women's section of the congress be revived.

1942

Sonia (Isaacman) Bunting joins the Communist Party.

1943

Hilda Bernstein is elected Johannesburg City Councillor – the only Communist elected to public office.

The ANC officially admits women members.

1944

Oliver Tambo's wife, Adelaide Tambo is elected courier for the ANC.

Josie Palmer works with the National Anti-Pass Council.

1946

Passsive resistance campaign led by Dr's Naicker and Yusuf Dadoo see a large number of women participating and playing an active role.

1947

Mary Malahlela- Xakana becomes first female Black doctor in South Africa.

Josie Palmer is elected secretary of the non-racial Transvaal All Women's Union formed at the International Women's Day Meeting in Johannesburg.

1948

ANC Women's League is formed, with treason trialist defendant, Ida Mtwana as President.

Annie Silinga joins the Langa Vigilance Association.

Albertina Sisulu joins the ANC Women's League.

1949

Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) founder and chief architect of the 1956 historic women's march, Fatima Meer, establishes the Durban Districts Women's League.

1950

Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) is banned.

Sonia Bunting joins the Guardian newspaper.

Florence Matomela leads an anti-pass demonstration resulting in the burning of passes in Port Elizabeth.

1951

Bibi Dawood helps to organise a one day strike, she helps to form the Worcester United Action Committee and is elected secretary to the Chairman, John Alwyn.

Sonia Bunting attends the World Youth Congress in Berlin as part of a delegation led by Ahmed Kathrada.

Cissie Gool appears before the Cape Town magistrate for holding a public meeting.

She also becomes active in the Franchise Action Council, the forerunner of the South African Coloured People's Organisation.

1951

October 19, Sita Gandhi and her mother Sushila and father Manilal stage a sit in the “whites only” reading room and the segregationist policy of the Durban City Council.

1952

The abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act extends passes to women.

Bibi Dawood recruits volunteers for the Defiance Campaign. By July 800 defiers have signed up. Her house is campaign headquarters.

Francis Baard becomes organizer of the ANC Women's League, later secetary and treasurer of PE branch.

Dorothy Nyembe, Annie Silinga join the ANC and participate in Defiance Campaign.

Florence Matomela, one of the first women volunteers, is arrested and spends six weeks in prison.

Fatima Meer is banned.

One of the heroes of the 1956 historic women's march, Lillian Ngoyi, joins ANC and is arrested for her involvement in the Defiance Campaign.

1953

Bibi Dawood joins the ANC and is sent by the committee of Women (later FEDSAW) to Copenhagen for the International Democratic Conference of Women.

Lillian Ngoyi is elected President of ANCWL.

Ruth Mompati works as Legal secretary of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

Hilda Bernstein is banned from 26 organisations, all meetings,writing and from being published.

Helen Suzman represents the United Party in Parliament.

1954

Florence Matomela is elected Cape Provincial Organiser of ANC Women's League.

Dorothy Nyembe is elected Chairperson of the Two-Stick branch Commmitee in Cato Manor.

Phyllis Naidoo joins the Natal Indian Congress, she raises funds for detainees arrested for Treason.

Sarah Carneson is banned and can no longer hold office in any union.

1954

April 17, Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW is formed and the formation brings together women from the ANC, the South African Indian Congress, the Trade unions and self-help groups.

Ida Mntwana is elected national president of FEDSAW.

Josie Palmer is elected president of the Transvaal branch of FEDSAW.

1955

Bibi Dawood is arrested for nine months under the Suppression of Communism Act.

Lizzy Adrian Abrahams is banned under the Suppression of Communism Act for five years.

Josie Palmer is banned.

Lillian Ngoyi is a delegate to a conference of the Women's International Democratic Federation in Europe, and tours communist countries.

Lillian Ngoyi is elected to the Transvaal ANC executive.

Annie Silinga is arrested for refusing to comply with pass regulations. Many appeals are made.

Francis Baard a member of the drafting committee that produced the draft copy of the Freedom Charter.

Sonia Bunting is one of the women key note speakers at Congress of the People in Kliptown.

Sister Bernard Ncube enters the Companions Catholic Order and remains a teacher.

Black Sash, the Women's Defence of the Constitution League, is formed.

Patricia Jobodwana becomes the youngest Black woman to enrol at a university when she enrols at the University of Fort Hare for a BSc in medicine at age 14.

October 27, FEDSAW organises a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria under the banner of FEDSAW. About 2000 women marched, lead by Ida Mntwana to protest passes for women.

1956

Dorothy Nyembe is involved in action against forced removals from Cato Manor. She leads the Natal contingent of women to the Transvaal to participated in the anti-pass march to the Union Buildings.

Annie Silinga, the Cape leader of the ANC Women's League, is deported under police escort to the Transkei. She defies her banishment and returns to Cape Town.

Widespread national protests against the carrying of passes begin, resulting in the burning of passbooks.Many women are arrested and violence is particularly bad in the Hurutshe reserve in the Western Transvaal.

Frances Baard is elected to the executive committee of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU)

Hilda Bernstein helps establishes the South African Peace Council, and becomes its national secretary.

Lillian Ngoyi is elected President of FEDSAW

August 9, 20000 women under the banner of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against passes for women. This day later became National Women's Day in South Africa.

1956

December, Lillian Ngoyi is the first woman elected to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC.

Congress Alliance leaders rounded, and detained, amongst them Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Annie Silinga and Francis Baard

1957

Annie Silinga wins the case against her banishment and remains in Langa.

1958

Annie Silinga is elected President of Cape Town ANC Women's League.

Albertina Sisulu is arrested

1959

Dorothy Nyembe leads the Cato Manor riots which were centred around beer halls, and sparked by the increase in raids. She is elected President of the ANC Women's League in Natal and participates in the call for potato boycotts.

Thayanayagie Pillay sets up a breakfast and lunch service for Treason Trialists in Pretoria.

Sonia Bunting banned from attending meetings and ordered to resign from 26 organizations.

The Progressive Party is formed and Helen Suzman is the only representative in Parliament.

1960

The number of economically active women in South Africa is at 15.5%

Fatima Meer organizes night vigils against detentions without trial.

Adelaide Tambo leaves South Africa and works as courier for her husband in London.

Detained under State of Emergency: Frances Baard, Hilda Bernstein, Sonia Bunting , Lillian Ngoyi, Annie Silinga, Josie Palmer.

Sarah Carneson goes underground

1962

Sonia Bunting is placed under house arrest.

Florence Matomela is banned and restricted to Port Elizabeth, where she is subsequently sent to prison for five years for furthering aims of the ANC.

Winnie Mandela is banned under the Suppression of Communism Act, and restricted to Orlando Township.

After the ANC is outlawed, Dorothy Nyembe becomes president of the Natal Rural Areas Committee and organises anti-government demonstrations by rural women during the Natal Women's Revolt.

Lillian Ngoyi is banned and confined to Orlando Township.

Lillian Ngoyi receives LLB degree from UCT and is admitted as an advocate to the Supreme Court.

Ruth Mompati goes into exile and becomes secretary and head of the Women's section of the ANC in Tanzania.

1963

Dorothy Nyembe is arrested for leading the Natal Women's Revolt where women refuse to fill cattle dipping tanks, and eventually destroying them.

Miriam Makeba addresses the United Nations' Special Committee Against Apartheid in New York.

Sonia Bunting goes into exile and continues to work for the Communist Party. She becomes organiser of the World Campaign for the Release of South African Political Prisoners.

Dorothy Nyembe is detained and held for 12 months in solitary confinement.

Dorothy Nyembe is arrested for furthering the aims of the ANC and is sentenced to three years imprisonment.

December, Zainab Asvat leads a women's march to the Union Buildings to protest against the appointment of the Indian National Council and the Group Areas Act.

1964

African Self Help Association is set up.

Frances Baard is sentenced to five years under Suppression of Communism Act for ANC activities.

Hilda Bernstein escapes to Botswana, then London and becomes a member of the External Mission and Women's section of the ANC

1966

Phyllis Naidoo is banned and then arrested for ten days for breaking banning the order. She leaves for Lesotho where she becomes a victim of a parcel bomb.

Dorothy Nyembe is released and banned for five years. Restricted to magisterial district of Durban.

1967

Sarah Carneson imprisoned for breach of banning order.

1968

Sarah Carneson goes into exile in the UK, works for Trade Union Movement.

Florence Matomela released from prison and banned.

Dorothy Nyembe arrested again, detained and tortured

1969

Umkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC's military wing, is officially opened to women members.

Winnie Mandela detained under Terrorism Act and held in Solitary confinement for 17 months.

Dorothy Nyembe and ten others charged under Suppression of Communism Act and found guilty of harbouring members of MK, she is sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment.

Frances Baard is released, banned and restricted to Mabopane, near Pretoria.

Mamphela Ramphele involved in student politics at the University of Natal Medical School and joins SASO under leadership of Steve Biko.

Shanthivathie Naidoo is detained.

1970

Fatima Meer banned for planning mass rally with Steve Biko.

Winnie Mandela placed under house arrest.

1971

The Voice of Women magazine is launched.

1972

Lillian Ngoyi's banning order lapses.

1974

Baleka Kgositsile, is active in Black Consciousness Movement and ANC underground.

University of Cape Town's Vice chancellor and principal and Steve Biko's ex-girlfriend, Mamphela Ramphele, are charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for being in possession of banned literature.

1975

The Black Women's Federation is formed, drawing heavily on the Women's Charter.

Lillian Ngoyi's banning order is renewed for five years.

Ela Gandhi is banned.

Mamphela Ramphele founds Zanempilo Community Health Centre in Zinyoka, outside King William's Town.

Walter Sisulu's daughter Lindiwe Sisulu is detained. After her release she joins MK and works underground. She undergoes military training and specialises in Intelligence.

The Women's Committee at Crossroads plays a central role in resisting threats of eviction and pass raids.

1976

Joe Modise's wife Thandi Modise, student in Soweto, is jailed for ten years.

Mamphela Ramphele detained under Section 10 of Terrorism Act.

Winnie Mandela establishes Black women's Federation and Black Parents' Association during Soweto uprisings. She is detained under Internal Security Act.

Fatima Meer's home petrol bombed.

Gill Marcus, becomes editor of ANC's weekly bulletin

April 19, Baleka Kgositsile goes into exile and works for the ANC in Swaziland.

1977

Baleka Kgositsile goes to Tanzania, becomes first secretary of the regional women's section of the ANC.

Winnie Mandela is banished to Brandfort in Orange Free State.

Mamphela Ramphele is banished to rural Northern Transvaal where she forms Isutheng Community Health Programme.

May 19, Black Women's Federation is banned.

1978

Helen Suzman receives a United Nations Human Rights Award

Di Bishop joins Black Sash.

1980

31.5% women are economically active in South Africa.

Fatima Meer builds schools in Umlazi, Port Shepstone, Inanda, establishes Tembalihle Tutorial College and a Crafts' Centre in Phoenix.

Zubeida Jaffer, journalist, is detained for two months after exposing police killings.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi goes into exile. She joins the ANC in Zimbabwe and works in political structures under the late Joe Gqabi.

She later becomes a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe and receives training in Angola. Geraldine receives Officer Training at Military Institute of USSR and specialised training in Cuba.

Helen Suzman receives aUnited Nations Human Rights Award again.

May 13, Lillian Ngoyi dies.

1981

The United Women's Organisation is formed. This became instrumental in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1984.

Di Bishop is elected to the Cape Provincial Council as member of the Progressive Federal Party.

1982

Barbara Hogan is arrested for High Treason, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for belonging to a banned organisation, the ANC.

Dorothy Nyembe is awarded the Soviet Union's People's Friendship Award.

Ruth First is killed by a letter bomb in Maputo.

1983

Albertina Sisulu is elected president in absentia of the United Democratic Front.

December, Natal Organization of Women (NOW) is formed.

1984

Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW) is formed.

Sister Bernard Ncube is elected president of FEDTRAW.

Mamphela Ramphele enters South African Development Research Unit of UCT as research fellow. She is appointed senior research officer in Dept of Social Anthropology and obtains a PhD.

March 23, Dorothy Nyembe is released and participates in activities of the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW).

1986

Brigitte Mabandla becomes legal advisor to the ANC Legal and Constitutional Affairs Department.Zubeida Jaffer is detained for editing community and trade papers.

Winnie Mandela returns to her home, becomes active in ANC politics. Her opposition to the Botha regime earns her the title “Mother of the Nation.”

The United Women's Organisation joins the Women's Front, together forming the United Women's Organisation Congress.

Sister Bernard Ncube is detained,and spends three months in solitary confinement. Sister Ncube's detentions evoke international condemnation.

Barbara Ribeiro and Fabian Ribeiro are killed by state agents.

Miriam Makeba receives the Dag Hammerskjold Peace Prize.

1986

April, PAC's African Women's Organisation is formed in Katlehong

1987

Zubeida Jaffer heads the Media Department at the University of the Western Cape.

1989

Sister Bernard Ncube is part of a United Democratic Front (UDF) delegation to meet President George Bush.

Patricia De Lille is elected to the National Executive Committee of the Pan African Movement, wing of PAC.

1990

Patricia De Lille is appointed foreign secretary and relief and aid secretary of PAC.

Lindiwe Sisulu returns to South Africa and works as personal assistant to Dr Jacob Zuma.

Ruth Mompati is part of a delegation that opens talks with the South African Government.

Baleka Kgositsile returns to South Africa. She is elected Secretary General at first national conference of the ANC Women's League.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi returns from exile at request of CPSA. She resumes work as personal assistant to Joe Slovo and Chris Hani.

Barbara Hogan released from prison.

Gill Marcus returns from exile and takes up a post in the ANC\'s Department of Information and Publicity.

The Natal Organisation of Women (NOW) disbands to join the ANC.

1991

Patricia De Lille leads the PAC delegation at CODESA.Sonia Bunting returns from exile and continues political work.

Gill Marcus is elected to the ANC National Executive Committee leading up to 1994 elections.

She trains ANC media workers and voter educators and accompanies Nelson Mandela on his election campaign.

Getrude Shope is elected first President of ANCWL

The Women's National Coalition is formed.

1992

Dorothy Nyembe receives the Chief Albert Luthuli award from the ANC.

Lindiwe Sisulu is awarded the Human Rights Center fellowship in Geneva.

She has written extensively on women, liberation struggle, working conditions and agriculture.

April, The Women's National Coalition is formally launched.

Women enter the CODESA talks under the auspices of theWomen's National Coalition

1993

Winnie Mandela elected to ANC's National Executive Committee and president of ANC Women's League.

1994

Thandi Modise becomes a member of the ANC Women's Executive Committee and holds the post of deputy-president until 1997.

Dorothy Nyembe is elected to the National Assembly.

Ruth Mompati is elected to the National Assembly.Patricia De Lille is elected to the National Assembly.

Gill Marcus is elected to parliament and becomes chairperson of the Parliamentary Joint Finance Committee.

Winnie Mandela is appointed Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

Sister Bernard Ncube is elected Member of Parliament and chairs committee on Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

Sister Bernard Ncube is known for her unorthodox views. She argues for abortion during her participation in the debate on the Abortion Bill.

Patricia De Lille is elected chairperson of the Transport Committee in parliament and Chief whip for the PAC.

1994

February 25, The Women's National Coalition calls a conference where the Women's Charter is adopted.

1995

Brigitte Mabandla is elected Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is elected chairperson of the National Preparatory Committee and deputy leader of a delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

August 9, South African women celebrate the first National Women's day.

1996

Mamphela Ramphele is appointed Vice Chancellor of UCT. She becomes the first Black and woman to hold such a position in South Africa.

Zubeida Jaffer is elected political editor of the Daily News.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is appointed Deputy Minister of Welfare and Population Development.

Gill Marcus is appointed Deputy Minister of Finance.

1997

Zubeida Jaffer is appointed parliamentary editor of South Africa's Independent Newspapers.

Brigalia Bam is elected General Secretary for the South African Council of Churches.

Winnie Mandela is re-elected as president of ANCWL

1998

Brigalia Bam is a founder member and first president of the Women's Development Foundation.

1999

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is appointed Minister of Public Service and Administration and serves on the Central Committee of the SACP.

Gill Marcus is appointed Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank.

Brigalia Bam is on the board of Matla Trust and the SABC. She is later elected Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

June 17, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, wife of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Bulelani Ngcuka, is appointed Minister of Minerals and Energy.

2000

Mamphela Ramphele joins the World Bank in Washington as managing director responsible for human development.

2001

March, The death of Sonia Bunting.

2003

Brigitte Mabandla is appointed as Minister of Housing.

Baleka Kgositsile currently serves on the ANC National Executive Committee. She is a member of COSAW (Congress of South African Writers).

Ruth Mompati is elected mayor of Vryburg in North-West Province.

Lindiwe Sisulu is elected Deputy Minister of Home Affairs.

2005

June 22, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is appointed Deputy President of South Africa by President Thabo Mbeki, thus becoming the first woman deputy president in the history of South Africa. She assumes the position after Mbeki has relieved Jacob Zuma of the post the week before (ironically, Mlambo-Ngcuka's husband Bulelani Ngcuka had been instrumental in bringing the charges against Zuma). Soon after her appointment she is booed by Zuma supporters at a rally in KwaZulu-Natal, an incident that is not covered by the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which leads to accusations of bias.

2006

July 31, Women from across the North West Province will march to the offices of the provincial government to submit a memorandum to Premier Edna Molewa. The march is to be led by the veterans of the 1956 march. It will serve as an official launch of the August Women's Month programme and as a launch pad for a series of provincial activities scheduled for Women's Month (August).

August 6, A Women's movement is launched in Bloemfontein.Hundreds of women gather in Bloemfontein for a conference to launch a new national movement, the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa (PWMSA). Mavivi Myakayayaka Manzini states that: "The PWMSA is the result of deliberation among the country's women that without a women's movement the gains made so far for women's rights could not be guaranteed." Also present at the launch are the Deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Deputy-President of Zimbabwe, Joyce Mujuru; the Mozambican Prime Minister, Luisa Dias Diogo; and several of South Africa's female ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors and premiers.

August 9, Women across the country celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1956 anti- pass campaign. In Pretoria, where the main event is held, women march from Freedom Square (Sammy Marks) to the Union Buildings, where the speaker of Parliament, Baleka Kgositsile, hands the memorandum to President Thabo Mbeki outlining women's grievances. The day is marked by an exhibition by artist Noria Mabasa, depicting various faces of some of the women who were in the forefront of the ground breaking 1956 march.

August 17, Brigalia Bam, the chairperson of the Independent Election Committee (IEC) is honoured by the District Six Museum for her unwavering commitment in ensuring that South Africa's elections continue to remain free and fair. Among those who come to congratulate her at the District Six Museum are politicians; Judge Herbert Msimang, the judge who will preside over the corruption trial of Jacob Zuma, the ANC deputy president; and, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As chairperson of the IEC, Bam has presided over two national elections, which have been hailed around the world as being free and fair. She has just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where she helped in that country's first election in 40 years. Her advice on how to conduct a free and fair democratic election is often sought by other countries around the world.

Last updated : 21-Jul-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 07-May-2015