Women's movements and feminist activism
Over the last two decades the contributions and achievements as well as failures of women’s
movements and women’s activism have been well documented in manuscripts that have
specifically focused on Africa and been written from the vantage point of the Global South.
Shireen Hassim’s landmark study Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa –
Contesting Authority (2006) chronicles and analyses the role of the women’s movement in
the South African liberation struggle, democratic transition, and the first engagements with
institutional politics. She also highlights the role and failures of the ANC Women’s League
to contribute to substantive gender equality. In her book Democracy and the Rise of
Women’s Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa Kathleen Fallon (2008) engages the issue of
women in democratisation processes in Africa and analyses Ghana as a case study.
Aili Mari Tripp, Isabel Casimiro, Joy Kwesiga and Alica Mungwa in African Women’s Movements – Changing Political Landscapes (2009) provide a fascinating comparative study of
women’s movements in Cameroon, Mozambique and Uganda. They study the rise of what
they call “new women’s movements” that differ from the early period of postcolonial
women’s organising, where organisations were closely associated with the ruling party and
the State. New women’s movements were formed with their own agendas, leadership and
funding. These organisations focus on engagement with institutional politics through campaigns for greater women’s representation in government, for example, demanding quotas,
women’s involvement in policy making and the improvement of women’s leadership skills
(p.81). These organisations attempted to broaden developmental agendas to include political
concerns and aimed to find political solutions for developmental problems. Documentation of
women’s movements and struggles in Africa has also been done by Gisela Geisler (2004:
chapter 6) and in the South African context by Gertrude Fester in South African Women’s
Apartheid and Post-Apartheid Struggles: 1980-2014 (2015).
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