The Federation of South African Women was a non-racial organisation which mobilised women in protest against Apartheid in general, and the introduction of passes for women in particular. It was formed in 1954 by women within the Congress Alliance, in particular Helen Joseph and Lilian Ngoyi. One of its main aims was to combat sexism within the various Congress Alliance organisations.
The Federation of South African Women's main campaign was against the imposition of pass laws on women, and was marked by a march of more than 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 august 1956. (This day is now a national holiday in South Africa: Women's Day.)
The Federation of South African Women continued to organise further campaigns in subsequent years, including involvement in the burning of passes which led to the Sharpeville Massacre.
Whilst the Federation of South African Women was never formally banned, many of its members were either detained, banned, or forced in to exile during the 1960s.