Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Women and citizenship struggles: A case of the Western Cape, South Africa 1980-2004.

Fester, Gertrude M.N (2008) Women and citizenship struggles: A case of the Western Cape, South Africa 1980-2004. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (11MB) | Preview


This thesis examines grassroots women's political activism in the Western Cape, South Africa (SA) during the 1980-1994 phase and their struggles to achieve citizenship. Through tracing the history of women's political agency and the social and political forces that shaped women's resistance, this dissertation asserts that women profoundly contributed to the New SA. Motherhood was the legitimate space granted to them by the liberation movement but women transformed it into an empowering public role, affirming their demands for citizenship. The shifting nature of women's resistance, the dominant discourses that mobilised them, what forms they took and how they changed over time are explored. The thesis asserts that despite the obstacles of a patriarchal culture relegating women's issues as secondary and a repressive state, women's focussed struggles succeeded in uniting diverse women to make effective intervention. This culminated in participating in negotiations for a new SA. A secondary focus examines the transition from apartheid to a 'women-friendly' SA. This study argues that private carework of women should be inscribed as citizenship responsibilities. Presently the SA State strategy promoting women's citizenship is through welfare. For women's effective citizenship it is imperative that there is a balance between women as workers and welfare beneficiaries, and that women participate as decision-makers at all levels. By comparing the demands of The Women's Charter for Effective Equality (1994) with the 1994-2004 reality of women and by analysing what women themselves state, I assess women's citizenship. This thesis concludes that the achievement thus far of the feminist citizenship project is uneven. The impressive constitution contributes to the improvement of many women's lives. However, the sporadic implementation of gender-sensitive policies, failure to address poverty, high levels of violence against women and the negative impact of culture and religion are some of the obstacles to women's comprehensive citizenship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, South African Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics