wnl01. AAM Women’s Newsletter 1, Nov–Dec 1981

The Anti-Apartheid Women’s Committee was formed in 1980 and published a regular newsletter from late 1981. The first issue highlighted the deportation of women from Cape Town to the Transkei, reported on meetings to celebrate South Africa’s Women’s Day in Cape Town and Durban and called for protests against the apartheid government’s promotion of the contraceptive drug Depo Provera among young black women.

wnl03. AAM Women’s Newsletter 3, July 1982

This double issue of the Women’s Newsletter reported on a legal challenge to apartheid rules that prevented women from living with their husbands in urban areas and on the number of babies born in South African prisons. It featured articles on donations in kind by London shoppers to the ANC’s creche set up in Tanzania for South African political exiles and the role of women in building new societies in Mozambique. It also pointed out parallels between British immigration legislation and South Africa’s citizenship laws.

wnl04. AAM Women’s Newsletter 4, September 1982

In August 1982 journalist, academic and former political prisoner Ruth First was assassinated by South African agents in Mozambique. She was mourned by the women who had known her as an activist in the AAM. The Women’s Newsletter obituary highlighted her biography of Olive Schreiner as a contribution to British feminism. This issue also featured the new wave of above-ground organisation among women inside South Africa and a conference on how British women could support their sisters in South Africa held in Liverpool. 

wnl05. AAM Women’s Newsletter 5, November 1982

The apartheid government tried to change the racial population balance in South Africa by forcing African women to use the cheapest forms of birth control, especially Depo Provera. This issue showed how apartheid distorted women’s control over their own fertility. It also featured an interview with SWAPO Women’s Council member Frieda Williams.

wnl06. AAM Women’s Newsletter 6, March–April 1983

Issue No. 6 of the newsletter introduced a debate column, a guest column and a letters page. The first issue for debate was the relevance of the demands of Britain’s women’s liberation movement to women in South Africa. The column argued that some demands, for example for equal pay, were the same, but others, such as access to full-time childcare, were not relevant to South African women. The newsletter also carried a report of the AAM women’s workshop held on 22 January 1983.

wnl07. AAM Women’s Newsletter 7, May–June 1983

This May Day issue looked at the situation of women workers in Namibia and South Africa. The debate column called on the AAM to do more to involve the British black community and to appeal to people’s awareness of racism in Britain as a basis for fighting racism in South Africa.

wnl09. AAM Women’s Newsletter 9, July–August 1983

In June 1983 three young Umkhonto we Sizwe combatants, Simon Mogoerane, Jerry Mosololi and Marcus Motaung were hanged by the apartheid government. The newsletter reported on the brave reaction of their mothers and asked readers to send messages of support to their families. Its guest column presented an analysis of the relation of feminist concerns and national liberation struggle by SWAPO Women’s Council member Bience Gawanas. It also carried a response from a black woman AAM member to the debate column in the previous issue questioning the argument that the AAM should ‘make a particular point of addressing itself to the Black community’.

wnl10. AAM Women’s Newsletter 10, September–October 1983

Issue No 10 highlighted the situation of Ida Jimmy, a SWAPO member imprisoned by the apartheid government whose son was born in prison and died when he was two years old. The debate column argued that collections of material aid must be set in the context of building political support for the anti-apartheid struggle. It reported on the growth of the United Democratic Front in South Africa and the prominent role played by women in its formation.