5 times women led protests and changed history

As we celebrate women, we look back at the times where they led the struggle for their rights.

The celebration was created to mark and honour the struggle for women’s rights, one which has been defined to a large extent by civil disobedience.

In most of those cases, women raised their voices, marched through streets to make it clear that the veil had been lifted from their eyes and they wanted more than had been given to them.

Here are 5 such instances where women protested and changed the course of history.

1. Aba Women's Riots of 1929

Our first instance comes from home where in 1929, thousands of Igbo women from Bende and surrounding villages travelled to Oloko to protest local warrant chiefs who had oppressed them and limited their roles. The women’s protest in Oloko spread to other parts of Igboland and lasted a period of four weeks. At the end of the protests, many laws were adjusted and women were allowed into service in the Native Courts.

2. The Women's March on Versailles of 1929

It was a tense period in France at the end of the 18th Century. The revolution was gaining momentum at a time when food was scarce and expensive. Aggrieved, women from Paris gathered in the city’s square and marched on Versailles where the king seated. By the time they were done, the King had moved back to Paris to make sure he was not cut off from the people’s needs.

3. That time black women in Apartheid South Africa marched on Pretoria

When it became known that the government of Apartheid South Africa wanted to create pass laws to limit the movement of black people, 20,000 black women marched on Pretoria in protest. Although they did not meet the Prime Minister, they stood silent for 30 minutes before breaking into song. The protests continued after, one of them was descended into the infamous Sharpeville massacre. The pass laws were repealed in 1986. The anniversary of the March is now Women’s Day in South Africa.

4.  Poland’s women overthrow a proposed abortion ban in October 2016

In 2016, Poland’s politicians announced plans to ban abortions and place a prison sentence of up to five years for breaking the proposed law. On the 3rd of October, thousands of women went on strike, dressed in black and gathered in the capital Warsaw. Their protests pushed the parliament to overturn the proposal.

5. Iceland's Women's Strike of 1975

Women in 1975’s Iceland had been completely pushed to the background. So they decided to strike, plain and simple. On the 24th of October, 90% of the women did not work, cook or take care of the children. The protest inspired another similar strike in 2004 that helped put Iceland’s first woman president in power.

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