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The Tripartite Alliance and the gendered nature of the transition to democracy in South Africa

Maher, Helen (2022) The Tripartite Alliance and the gendered nature of the transition to democracy in South Africa. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

South Africa has been regarded internationally as a post-conflict state that made a significant commitment to gender equality during the democratic transition process, evidenced in formal legal instruments and consistently high levels of representation of women in parliament. Despite the progress made, the expected outcomes for women did not materialise in the newly democratised state under the executive leadership of the tripartite alliance partners; the African National Congress, South African Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions. There are substantial disparities between the high-level reforms and the deeply embedded nature of gender inequality, particularly evident in the differentiated experiences of black South African women and current statistics on poverty and gender-based violence. Existing literature has not adequately explained the disparity between the existence of significant gender reforms, women activists’ awareness of the gender failures in other transitioned states and the poor outcomes for women in South Africa. This research identifies and analyses the perspectives on gender equality articulated by the elite political leaders in the tripartite alliance during the democratic transition. This study uses a feminist theoretical framework to undertake a qualitative analysis of political journals and magazines published by the alliance partners during the period 1990 to 1999, including Mayibuye, the African Communist and the Shopsteward. The research argues that the disparity between the high-level gender equality rhetoric and the lack of commitment in practice was a fundamental weakness in the democratic transition that can be attributed to the fact the elite political leadership were not interested in advancing gender equality, despite policy positions that suggested otherwise. The narratives in the alliance publications illustrate that attention to gender equality, as expressed by these leaders, incorporated international gender equality norms in a manner that appeared progressive, but was never intended to challenge the patriarchal status quo.
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Date of Award:November 2022
Supervisor(s):Connolly, Eileen and Biagini, Erika
Uncontrolled Keywords:South Africa; Transition; Democracy
Subjects:Social Sciences > International relations
Social Sciences > Political science
Social Sciences > Gender
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of Law and Government
ID Code:27630
Deposited On:11 Nov 2022 11:00 by Erika Biagini . Last Modified 11 Nov 2022 11:00

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