Instead of clutching signs that read “Women Do Not Want Passes,” women are picking up cell phones in celebration of the 55th anniversary of National Women’s Day in South Africa.
Thousands of people on Twitter have made the holiday a worldwide trending topic in remembrance of the 20,000 black South African woman who peacefully protested against “legislation that required black persons to carry the ‘pass,’ special identification documents” during apartheid in 1956, according to the South African news organization NewsTime.
The women, led by anti-apartheid activists Lilian Ngoy, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, marched to the Union Buildings in the northeastern city of Pretoria with petitions signed by more than 100,000 people for Prime Minister Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom, reported NewsTime.
Shortly after becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Nelson Mandela created a handful of new national holidays. One of them was National Women’s Day on Aug. 9.
The holiday has collected more than 17,000 mentions on Twitter in the last 24 hours and seems to have confused plenty of Americans and non-South Africans.
“Why is everyone saying Happy Women's Day today when the International Women's Day is 8th of March?” tweeted Jorunn Hanto-Haugse (@JHantoHaugse) of Hardanger, Norway.
“Happy Women’s Day in USA,” tweeted Bru Villegas (@bbvillegas) of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“Happy Women’s Day! Who knew?” tweeted Emily Drake from Chicago, Ill.
South Africans, on the other hand, were well aware of their holiday and its importance.
“Today the black women of South Africa fought for equal treatment in our country,” tweeted Michelle Sibanda (@pinkminx36). “I am a child of those women. Happy Women's Day.”
“Happy women's day to all the women in South Africa who fought during the struggle and who are still fighting other injustices!” tweeted Lemohang Mashile of South Africa.