Gendering the State: The Social Dynamics of the Gender Machinery in South Africa

This paper discusses the women’s movement in South Africa up until 1994 and how feminist activists helped shape the terms of the political transition by focusing their aims on engendering a gendered state. It then provides a brief overview of women’s representation in various levels of the state as a result of the consensus on the need for gender transformation. The paper shows that these achievements in representation have not translated into widespread material transformation of gender relations in South African society and also discusses the broader political economy conditions in which this lack of widespread transformation should be understood. The paper concludes that a political feminist women’s movement, which was demobilised in the early 1990s, is necessary to reignite momentum from below to struggle for meaningful women’s liberation in post-apartheid South Africa.

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