Why the Union Buildings hold such significance for women
Everyone knows when we hit Women’s day, the year is nearing its end. I mean, we are heading for Heritage Day already! However before we start celebrating Christmas and New Year’s, let’s take a look at why Women’s Day and, more specifically, why the Union Buildings hold such significance for women.
In 1956, plans were drafted for the Pretoria march that would lead to great historical things. The FSAW had written to request that JG Strjidom, the current prime minister meet with their leaders in order to present their case.
At the ANC’s request, Helen Joseph and Berha Mashaba went on a tour of the urban areas along with Robert Resha of the ANC and Norman Levy of the Congress of Democrats. They wanted to gather enough delegates for the mass gathering in August.
And so women from all parts of the country, not just Pretoria, gathered in Pretoria to march. Some came from as far as Cape Town. They all flocked to the Union Buildings.
The estimated number of delegates ranged between 10 000 and 20 000. They gathered and filled the entire amphitheatre in the bow of the Herbert Baker building.
Some women wore traditional dress while others wore the Congress colours of green, black and gold. Indian women were wearing their saris and many women had their children with them. While we might expect a riot to occur, the ladies all stood fast with dignity and discipline.
The leaders left bundles of signed petitions outside JG Strijdom’s office door and it was later discovered that they were removed before he even bothered to look at them. Lillian Ngovi suggested that everyone in the crowd stand in absolute silence for half an hour. The moment was an epic one.
A statue was erected to commemorate the event and on the statue is the inscription, “Strike a Woman, Strike a Rock”.
If it hadn’t been for that march, many women today would still not enjoy the right they did. We wouldn’t have half the right we do today.
The Union Buildings not only holds significance for women, but it is the place where many great events occurred. It is a place to remember such events, to take a step back and thank those who came and fought before us.
Women’s Day shouldn’t be your only reason to travel to Pretoria! View our routes to and from Pretoria below, select the route that best suits your needs and book online now!