Thursdays in Black (international) - 1980s - current

Thursdays in Black (TIB): Towards a World Without Rape and Violence is a movement launched by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the 1980s, as an activist branch of their Decade in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998).

This decade was meant to address and combat issues that disproportionately affect women, and Thursdays in Black was to address and combat rape and sexual violence, particularly in the context of war as

“stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became all the more visible… What also became visible was women’s resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist such violations”[1].

The WCC had no explicitly religious connotations for the TIB campaign, and asked only of their followers what we ask of you – wear black on Thursdays, wear the TIB badge, and commit to saying NO to sexual violence.

Thursdays in Black (international) relaunch - 2008 - current

The campaign is promoted internationally and people everywhere are invited and encouraged to take part. The TIB movement is particularly strong in South Africa, where it was re-launched in 2008 as a part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. This campaign was an initiative to encourage the general public to be involved with various social justice initiatives. In South Africa, there is a strong partnership between TIB and community organisations who advocate for the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV and AIDS.

16 Days of Activism web

Thursdays in Black, Aotearoa- 1990s- current

NZUSA and Tertiary Women New Zealand (TWNZ) adopted the Thursdays in Black campaign under the leadership of Women’s Rights Officer of 1994, Jan Logie.

Thursdays in Black was rolled out as an information-raising campaign on campus and experienced a high reach and lots of popularity at the time. While it specifically targeted tertiary students as a demographic, it experienced a lot of support from the sexual violence sector and other community organisations. As funding for the national student movement dwindled in the late ’90s, the full-time Women’s Rights position was dissolved. While the campaign continued to be run from the national office, it experienced strain from a lack of resources and eventually tapered off, with only minimal visibility at a select few campuses up until the 2016 relaunch.

Under the leadership of the TWNZ National Women’s Rights Officer, Izzy O’Neill and the National Gender Equity Officer, Ella Cartwright, the Thursdays in Black campaign officially relaunched on tertiary education campuses in 2016.

The ethos of TIB remains the same – raising awareness and making concrete, measurable progress towards a world without rape and violence. 



There are a number of activist groups across the globe who have historically dealt with issues of sexual violence, racism, war and military regimes who have used black as a motif for their activism or, have organized on Thursdays. Thursdays in Black was inspired by the following movements;


Black Sash – 1955 - current

The Black Sash movement ­­­was founded in South Africa, May 1955.

“Nelson Mandela famously described the women of the Black Sash as the 'conscience of white South Africa' during the Apartheid-era.”[1]

The movement originated as a nonviolent white women’s resistance to the implementation of racist laws which removed non-white voters, specifically black people, from a voter’s roll.  The women would organise marches, petitions, and hold vigils wearing a striking black sash, worn to represent the mourning of the loss of constitutional rights for people of colour.

During 1966 and 1994 the Black Sash movement provided widespread and visible proof of white resistance to the apartheid system. Since the end of Apartheid in the 1990s, Black Sash interests are more specifically the “implications of laws and policies and the practical effects that these have on the lives of the poor”[2]. “Initially, membership to the Black Sash was only open to female voters resident in South Africa (which signified white women). In 1963, all women residing in South Africa were able to become members of the Black Sash. Nevertheless, it remained mainly a “white” organization[3]”

[1,2,3] Black Sash

Mother of the Plaza de Mayo - 1970s - current

During the ‘Dirty War’ of the 1970’s, around 30,000 people disappeared during state terrorism and military dictatorship in Argentina. In 1977 a group of mothers who all had at least one disappeared child, held their first Virgil to publicly grieve and protests those who had disappeared under the military regime. This group continues to gather every Thursday afternoon at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and are a well know Argentine human rights organisation called “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” or “Mothers of the disappeared”.


Women in Black (WiB) - 1988- current

In 1987 the ‘First Intifada’ Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the west Bank and Gaza, formed. In response, the first WiB group was formed by Israeli women in Jerusalem, 1988. This WiB group held a vigil every Friday, wearing black clothing, in central Jerusalem to protest the human rights violations by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories.

The consistent message from the WiB movement is that they stand in opposition to the occupation. WiB is now a “world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence.[1]

[1] Women in Black