08 August 2016

WOMEN's DAY - Women Rise Up! Remembering the Women's March of 1956

The 9th of August every year marks the anniversary of a seminal turning point in the history of political resistance in South Africa. On this day in 1956, South African women rose up as one to protest the planned extension of pass laws to black women.

This poster is an A3 poster in blue. The image is of a woman with her fist raised, holding a broken chainThis poster is silkscreened in red on white. The image is a drawing of three women.This poster is an offset litho in black, produced by the Learn and Teach, Johannesburg. This poster celebrates the role of women in the struggle and challenges male exploitation of women.

The pass law was one of the most despised of the apartheid laws. Before the 1950s, black men were required to carry passes, giving them permission to be in an urban area. Only men who could find work were given a pass, allowing the government to control the influx of black men into the cities. There were severe penalties for not being able to produce the hated "dompas" on demand - immediate arrest and imprisonment. The pass law had the effect of turning the majority of the population into criminals.

In 1952, the government announced that black women would soon also have to carry passes. Women actively resisted this, finding collective voice in a broad-based, inter-racial women's organisation, the Federation of South African Women, established to highlight that the struggle in South Africa could not be successfully waged unless women and women's issues constituted a central part of liberation strategy.

This poster depicts Albertina Sisulu, the UDF preidents, was subpoenaed to give evidence against her nephew, who was on trial for liberation movement activitiesAL2446_0040	This poster is silkscreened in black, green and white. The poster has an drawing of a woman pointing upwards. The text reads:

During its founding conference on 17 April 1954, the Women's Charter was drafted, calling for the enfranchisement of men and women of all races,equality of opportunity in employment, for equal pay for equal work, for equal rights in relation to property, marriage and children, and for the removal of all laws and customs that denied women such equality.

The now famous Women's March of 1956 was the culmination of this defiance and activism where 20 000 women marched on the Union Building in Pretoria to deliver armfuls of a petition entitled "The Demand of the Women of South Africa for the Withdrawal of Passes for Women and the Repeal of the Pass Laws", signed by women across the country, to then-Prime Minister Strijdom.


AL2446_2618 NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE WOMEN YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK:YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER;YOU WILL BE CRUSHED.	It features a black and white photograph of two women with their arms raised. The text reads: 	This poster is silkscreened in black on white; includes a drawing. Text reads:

While the petition failed to halt the extension of the pass law to black women, the Women's March remains a watershed moment in South Africa, irrevocably demonstrating women's bedrock power to mobilise and fight against injustices of all kinds - as mothers, as workers, as organisers, as wives, in the home, in communities, on the battlefield, in the workplace, on the shop floor. It laid the foundation for future generations of South African women to struggle against apartheid, against gender discrimination and violence, to push forward those principles first expressed so eloquently in the Women's Charter of 1954.

Adapted from text of SAHA exhibit on display for Women's Month 2016 at Constitution Hill

 This poster is an offset yellow, produced by FEDSAW, Western Cape.This poster is silkscreened(?) in black, white and yellow. I features a woodcut of 4 women surrounded by a yellow border. This poster is silkscreened in black and red on yellow. The text reads