The University of Wisconsin Press

African Studies / Women's Studies / Sociology / Politics

Women's Organizations and Democracy in South Africa
Contesting Authority
Shireen Hassim

Women in Africa and the Diaspora
Stanlie James and Aili Mari Tripp, Series Editors

Winner of Victoria Schuck Award for Best Book on Women and Politics, American Political Science Association, 2007

"Essential reading for all those interested in the theory and practice of social and political transformation."
—Amina Mama, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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.

Shireen Hassim is 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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the cover of Hassim's book is brown, with a woodcut illustration of women protesting.

November 2005
LC: 2005011887 HQ
370 pp.  6 x 9

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ISBN 978-0-299-21384-8
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