Nelson Mandela Addresses a Womens March to Protest Against Pass Laws

©Dr Peter Magubane
Nelson Mandela addresses a group of women during their march to Pretoria’s Union Buildings to protest against the Pass Laws.
Before the 1950s, black men were required to carry passes to be in an urban area, but only people who could find work were issued a pass. This allowed the apartheid government to control the influx of black men into the cities. If someone was caught without a pass, they would either be arrested, jailed or given a fine. The pass law was one of the most hated of the apartheid laws. In 1952, the government made it a requirement for black women to also to carry passes but this was actively resisted.

On 9 August 1952, over 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the Pass Laws. Women of all races and cultures came together to march for their rights and the rights of people of color. Nelson Mandela met with a group of women who were part of the march to converse with them and show his support. From this march, the famous saying came “If you strike a woman, you strike a rock!”

“While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” ~ Nelson Mandela

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