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. These were special identification documents that infringed on their freedom of movement during the Apartheid era. Approximately 20 000 women from all over the country took part in the peaceful march.
After dropping off petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures they stood in silence for thirty minutes. A song was composed in honour of this momentous occasion, “Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ imbokodo!” (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock).
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.