South Africa has launched its Women’s Month with a tribute to one of the pioneering anti-apartheid groups, the Union Buildings marchers of 1956.
Twenty thousand women marched to protest at the regime’s pass laws. It was one of the biggest demonstrations South Africa had ever seen.
“While we still have a lot of work to do we are satisfied with the progress made thus far in improving the status and quality of life of women, in only 18 years of our freedom,” said President Jacob Zuma in the capital Tshwane.
But Zuma’s ruling ANC is finding it hard to create enough jobs to keep pace with demand, and aspirations are growing.
“I don’t like this job because it’s domestic and there’s no money. Money from this job all goes on food and transport, after that, it’s finished,” said Xolelwa, a barmaid.
With or without husbands or children, many South African women have to fend for themselves. For those dogged by poverty, issues of social equality are but a dream.