The leaders of the 1955 Women’s March holding the petitions against passes

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Jurgen Schadeberg

In September 1955 the issue of passes burst into the public eye again when the government announced that it would start issuing reference books to black women from January 1956. Women, now politicised and well-organised into a powerful resistance movement, immediately rose to the challenge. In October 1955 and August 1956, Women marched to the Union Buildings carrying petitions to protest against the pass laws. Both marches were organised by FEDSAW and led by four women who came from the white, coloured, Indian and black communities. (from left) Rahima Moosa, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, and Sophie Williams.