Article from ROAPE Volume 21 Number 61
Women ‘Tradition’ & Reconstruction
This article discusses the tension between the ANC's commitment to gender equality and its engagement within the new government with what I term ‘the politics of traditionalism’ . These politics have been most evident in the deadly struggle to out-manoeuvre the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), while convincing it to participate in the elections, a struggle in which the Zulu King has been the pre-eminent (but not the only) representative of the resurgent traditionalism that the ANC has been attempting to defuse and co-opt. The ‘tradition’ being negotiated is fundamentally patriarchal, and the two goals - gender equality and accommodating ‘tradition’ - are, I argue, ultimately incompatible. Further, given the limitations on the way in which gender equality is perceived within the ANC, as well as the absence of a politically powerful mass women's movement on the ground, the ANC-led government will compromise or delay its commitment to gender equality. Discusses: Rural patriarchy; Constitutional gender equality; ‘Women’ and ‘gender’ in reconstruction and development; The politics of traditionalism; Implications for the RDP and the Land Reform Programme.