African National Congress Women's League

The African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) is a political group in South Africa. The president is Bathabile Dlamini.

African National Congress
Women's League
PresidentBathabile Dlamini
Secretary-GeneralMeokgo Matuba
Founded1948 (1948)
HeadquartersLuthuli House
54 Sauer Street


Bantu Women's LeagueEdit

The Bantu Women's League was founded in 1918 by Dr. Charlotte Maxeke. A central issue that led to its formation was the requirement that black women carry passes. Passes were documents that were seen as a means for local authorities and owners to control their movement. The pass was seen as a symbol of oppression and the Bantu Women's League was built to protest the passes.[1] Black men had already been required to carry passes. Whites did not have to carry passes.

In 1912 a BWL obtained 5000 Black and Colored women's signatures. The petition was sent to Prime Minister Louis Bothaasking, requesting the repeal of the pass laws. The women received no response. In response and led by Maxeke, the members burned their passes in front of municipal offices while chanting, protest and even fighting with police. Many members were arrested in Jagersfontein, Winburg and Bloemfontein.

The Bantu Women's League[2] was a branch of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC did not accept women until 1943.


In 1948, the ANC Women's League replaced the Bantu Women's League[3] in the Eastern Cape. The first official president of the league was Ida Mntwanaa. After acceptance, members committed to passive resistance.

In 1952 members took an active role in the Defiance Campaign. The ANC recognized and witnessed the work and dedication of the league and asked it to help in organizing the 1955 Congress of the people, where the Freedom Charter was adopted. Women saw the leverage this gave them and took the opportunity to demand that their demands be incorporated into the charter. On August 9, 1956, league members representing the Federation of South African Women, confronted Prime Minister J. G. Strydom with a petition against pass laws.

In 1960 the organization was banned along with the ANC, forcing its leaders underground; it was unbanned in 1990 again along with the ANC.[4] While the organization was banned, members conducted meetings underground. Some members created organizations such as the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW), Natal Organisation of Women (NOW) and United Women's Congress (UWCO) in the Western Cape.[5]


South African artist Ayanda Mabulu once created a painting called The Pornography Power, portraying then-president Jacob Zuma receiving oral sex by an African American women in a circus tent.

"Of  late, the organisation has failed time and time again to check misogyny within the ANC and has made shallow attempts at best to check misogyny outside of it."[6]


In 1956, Lilian Ngoyi became the first elected female member of the ANC National Executive Committee.

Among the activists and politicians who were allied with the ANC during the apartheid decades are:


  1. ^ Anonymous (2011-03-21). "Pass laws in South Africa 1800-1994". South African History Online. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  2. ^ sahoboss (2011-03-31). "Bantu Women's League". South African History Online. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  3. ^ sahoboss (2011-03-31). "ANC Women's League (ANCWL)". South African History Online. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  4. ^ Anonymous. "ANC Women's League (ANCWL)". Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  5. ^ sahoboss (2011-03-31). "ANC Women's League (ANCWL)". South African History Online. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  6. ^ "The ANC Women's League is Dead". Retrieved 2019-05-02.

External linksEdit