A Short History of the Women`s League
Women have played an important role in the liberation struggle as members of the ANC and allied organisations, as trade unionists and in other capacities. They carried on militant campaigns against the hated pass laws. They participated in the underground and armed struggle when that became indispensable. Many women suffered restriction, imprisonment, torture and even brutal assassination by the racist regime.
Recognising their role, the ANC formed the Women’s League in 1943. The Federation of South African Women (FSAW), a multi-racial body, was established on 17 April 1954 - with the ANC Women’s League as its largest component - to organise a united struggle against apartheid.
Ruthless repression by the regime prevented FSAW and the Women’s League from functioning after 1960. But women found ways to continue their resistance through new legal organisations or the underground structures. In the external mission, the Women’s Section of the ANC played an active role.
The ANC Women’s League was re-launched in Durban, after the unbanning of the ANC, on 9 August 1990, the anniversary of the great march of women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 to denounce the pass laws.