National Women’s Day / Month 

9 August 2023

The Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO) is the largest women’s Zionist organisation and consequently Women’s Day and Women’s month is extra special and important to us!  

Women’s Day, celebrated annually on the 9th of August, marks the anniversary of the women’s march of 1956 where approximately 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.  The march protested against the proposed amendments of the Urban Areas Act of 1950 as well as the carrying of an internal passport known as passbooks. These passbooks served to maintain population segregation and control urbanisation during the Apartheid era.   

The women marched as a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in South Africa and encouraged other women to engage in the struggle for freedom.  After standing silently for 30 minutes, they started singing a song composed in honour of the march the meaning of which was “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock”.  Since then, the phrase has transformed to say: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock“.  This has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa and resonates deeply with our WIZO.  

WIZO seeks to include all women giving them the right to live free from violence and discrimination.  WIZO does this by providing houses of safety which gives abused women a safe place to take control of their lives.  When they are back on their feet they have access to the Safety Net program that encourages these women to rebuild their lives and self-esteem.  In this program women’s rights such as the right to physical and mental health, to be educated and to earn an equal wage are fought for and optimistically attained.   Our goal at WIZO is to empower women, to encourage them and to give them the confidence to dream and to know that their dreams may come true.  With women being the cornerstone of WIZO, we continue to stand up for their rights and their freedom.  We celebrate all their achievements and show that discrimination, like gender oppression and sexism, is unacceptable.  These women, who have been oppressed, are then able to step up and become changemakers and activists for their families and communities.   

J.K. Rowling (Joanne Kathleen Rowling) well known author said: “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” 

So, as WIZO women, we celebrate who we are and speak up to make life better for the next generation of women. We display strength in that we will be heard and we will be recognised. We will make a difference and ensure the freedom, equality and safety of those who need it most.  We celebrate the contributions that women have made to both Israeli and South African society – culturally, politically and socio-economically. We continually raise awareness of gender equality and try to stop the cycle of violence.  WIZO women are dedicated to transforming lives in Israel, giving them the opportunity to progress and be their true selves and we sincerely hope that you will continue to support us in our journey.

Wishing you a Women’s day and month that is filled with all the strength, power and courage that makes you the amazing WIZO women that you are, who have achieved so much to date, and hopefully, will continue to achieve.

I, together with WIZO South Africa, wish you a very happy Women’s Day and month.

Warm regards


Shelley Trope-Friedman

President WIZO South Africa