Women’s Right to Vote in South Africa
April 27, 1994

Number of female heads of state to date: 1

Aug 9, National Women’s Day
Women’s Month

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day.

Freedom Day

This Day In History: 27 April 1994 | A Passion to Understand

27 April is Freedom Day in South Africa and it is a public holiday held to commemorate 27 April 1994 when the first democratic general election was held in the country. This election marked the end of Apartheid where the National Party government was replaced by the government of the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela became president.
It was the first ever election in South Africa in which there was universal suffrage which means that all adult South Africans, regardless of race or gender, were allowed to vote.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN VOTE – THE OVERVIEW – After 300 Years, Blacks Vote in South Africa

“Today is a day like no other before it,” declared Nelson Mandela, the leader and hero of the blacks’ liberation struggle, who is expected to be elected the first President of the reforming nation, four years after he was freed from 27 years of apartheid imprisonment. “Voting in our first free and fair election has begun. Today marks the dawn of our freedom.”

Thousands of expatriates voted overseas after years of waiting out apartheid’s demise. Here, the nation seemed to pause and sigh as if on a long-denied holiday, collective pride fairly palpable as the business of universal voting was finally undertaken before the eyes of a world that was so recently scornful of South Africa.

The 1956 Women’s March, Pretoria, 9 August

‘Strijdom, you have tampered with the women, You have struck a rock.’

So runs the song composed to mark this historic occasion. By the middle of 1956 plans had been laid for the Pretoria march and the FSAW had written to request that JG Strijdom, the current prime minister, meet with their leaders so they could present their point of view. The request was refused.

South African Government

2018 National Women’s Day

2018 South Africa National Women’s Day will be commemorated under the theme “100 Years of Albertina Sisulu, Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward”.

2018 South Africa National Women's Day

Facts and figures

Leadership and political participation – [UN Women]
IPU-UN Women in politics map – [IPU]