South African Women’s Day celebrates the demonstration by 20,000 women of all races on 9th August 1956 against the pass laws. Since 1994, it has been a public holiday in South Africa. On or around that date each year in the late 1980s the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group would hold a specially rally on the Non-Stop Picket of the South African Embassy.
Of all the photographs of the Non-Stop Picket we have discovered and been given over the last year, the one show here is one of my favourites. It shows five young City Group women – four British, one Dutch – celebrating South African Women’s Day in August 1988. Women played a central role in the leadership of City Group, on the Non-Stop Picket and the actions that the group took against apartheid. Many of them, like the women shown in this photo were in their teens and early twenties. What I like about this photo is that shows young women taking the lead in a political process, it demonstrates their seriousness and commitment, but also suggests the sense of community and comradeship that the intensity of the Picket generated.