The Women's League (ANC)

Morgan Cappa

History and Accomplishments of ANCWL

In 1943 women were officially allowed to join the ANC and in 1948 the Women's League was created. At first, however, women were not allowed to have a very active role in the movement and were mainly used for catering and mobilization. As the ANCWL continued to develop, it began to focused mostly on issues regarding pass books and Bantu education and was involved in many protests against the apartheid system including burning of pass books. In 1954, the ANCWL joined together with other groups to form the Federation of South African Women which helped their movement to spread nationally and outside their organization. On August 9, 1956, FSAW organized a mass march to the Union Buildings to petition pass laws, which came to be known as Women's Day. The ANCWL's activities gained attention to the women's movement from the men of ANC and led to gender equality when the new government was formed after the fall of the apartheid system.

Significance of ANCWL to Anti-Apartheid movement

The ANCWL helped gain more supporters to the anti-apartheid movement. It also gave the movement a reputation of being more open and welcoming to all, making it more appealing to new members and future allies. The ANCWL helped unite the African women against the Apartheid system and broadened the movement to include gender equality issues, as well as to further push the issues of pass books and Bantu education. Overall, the ANCWL gained the anti-apartheid movement more support, more recognition, and a new goal of gender equality for a future anti-apartheid government.

Primary Source: Statement by Gertrude Shope at Meeting of the Special Committee Against Apartheid

Work Cited

"WOMEN’S LEAGUE." African National Congress Women's League. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


ANC Womens League. Digital image. CEPAG News. N.p., 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


Weinberg, Eli. Crowd near the Drill Hall on the Opening Day of the Treason Trial, Johannesburg, 19. December 1956. Digital image. Art Blart. Times Media Collection, 24 May 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


FEDSAW Women’s Protests, Pretoria 1956. Digital image. Women's History Network. N.p., 17 Oct. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


"ANC Women's League (ANCWL)." South African History Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


"The 1956 Women's March, Pretoria, 9 August." South African History Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.