2000 • ANC Women's League Award

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Fatima Bhyat’s professional career in physiotherapy and occupational health is devoted to helping workers, for many years in Canada, and now in South Africa, where she is a senior official with the Department of Labour.

A broad background in workplace health, therapy and rehabilitation, coupled with work in varied political, cultural and socio-economic milieus, including more then a decade as union president or vice president and a member of the Canadian Labour Congress Women’s Committee, enables her to deal with politically sensitive issues with confidence and subtlety.

Fatima’s work with the ANC Toronto involved liaising with Canadian women’s organizations, bringing widespread attention to the predicament of women and children in apartheid South Africa.  SA Womens Day was continually commemorated in Toronto thanks to the ANC Womens Committee, of which she was an integral part.

The ANC Women’s League was formed at the ANC annual conference on December 16, 1943.  It came to prominence through a celebrated march on the Union Buildings by women to protest the dreaded Pass Laws on Women. (The pass laws required South Africa's majority blacks, mixed race and Asians to carry documents, or passes, that limited them to certain racially segregated areas.)  This march occurred on August 9, 1956.  The women were set upon by dogs and a vicious police force. 

The cry of the women raised the famous quote “You have touched the women, you have struck a rock.”

The role of the Women’s League within the ANC has been to address the concerns of women, to ensure the recognition of women and the participation of women in all walks of life.  The plight of children has been of particular concern. The Women’s League has influenced policies, strategies and their implementation, to work towards the advancement of women in the ‘new’ South Africa.

South African Women for Women is proud to bestow on Fatima this prestigious award for representing the women who worked so hard at dismantling apartheid: the ANC Women’s League Award.