Women's Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority

Overview

The transition to democracy in South Africa was one of the defining events in twentieth-century political history. The South African women’s movement is one of the most celebrated on the African continent. Shireen Hassim examines interactions between the two as she explores the gendered nature of liberation and regime change. Her work reveals how women’s political organizations both shaped and were shaped by the broader democratic movement. Alternately asserting their political independence and giving precedence ...

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Overview

The transition to democracy in South Africa was one of the defining events in twentieth-century political history. The South African women’s movement is one of the most celebrated on the African continent. Shireen Hassim examines interactions between the two as she explores the gendered nature of liberation and regime change. Her work reveals how women’s political organizations both shaped and were shaped by the broader democratic movement. Alternately asserting their political independence and giving precedence to the democratic movement as a whole, women activists proved flexible and remarkably successful in influencing policy. At the same time, their feminism was profoundly shaped by the context of democratic and nationalist ideologies. In reading the last twenty-five years of South African history through a feminist framework, Hassim offers fresh insights into the interactions between civil society, political parties, and the state.

 

 

    Hassim boldly confronts sensitive issues such as the tensions between autonomy and political dependency in feminists’ engagement with the African National Congress (ANC) and other democratic movements, and black-white relations within women’s organizations. She offers a historically informed discussion of the challenges facing feminist activists during a time of nationalist struggle and democratization.

 

 

Winner, Victoria Schuck Award for best book on women and politics, American Political Science Association

“An exceptional study, based on extensive research. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

“A rich history of women’s organizations in South African . . . . [Hassim] had observed at first hand, and often participated in, much of what she described. She had access to the informants and private archives that so enliven the narrative and enrich the analysis. She provides a finely balanced assessment.”—Gretchen Bauer, African Studies Review

 

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299213848
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 5/24/2006
  • Series: Women in Africa and the Diaspora Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Shireen Hassim is a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and a widely published author in the field of gender politics in South Africa.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : autonomy and engagement in the South Africa women's movement 3
1 Contesting ideologies : feminism and nationalism 20
2 The emergence of women as a political constituency : 1979-90 47
3 The ANC in exile : challenging the role of women in national liberation 85
4 The return of the ANC women's league : autonomy abrogated 116
5 From mothers of the nation to rights-bearing citizens : transition and its impact on the South African women's movement 129
6 Political parties, quotas, and representation in the new democracy 170
7 One woman, one desk, one typist : moving into the bureaucracy 210
8 Autonomy, engagement, and democratic consolidation 246
App. A The women's charter for effective equality 269
App. B Structure and components of the national gender machinery 279
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