Saturday, 29 AUGUST 2015
District Six Museum Homecoming Centre
15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
13h30 – 15h30
You are invited to join us in honouring the women of the 1980s with the launch of the book, ‘SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN’S APARTHEID AND POST-APARTHEID STRUGGLES: 1980-2014′ by Gertrude Fester
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Former Constitutional Court Judge, ALBIE SACHS
For further information and to be invited to the book launch, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
TITLE: South African Women’s Apartheid and Post-Apartheid Struggles: 1980-2014
PUBLISHER: Scholars’ Press, Saarbrücken, 2015.
WRITER: Gertrude Fester
The first section examines grassroots women’s non-racial political activism (Western Cape) during the 1980-1994 phase to achieve citizenship. This is captured through analysing the United Women’s Organisation, UWO (1981-1986), United Women’s Congress (1986-1990) and Federation of South African Women (Western Cape, 1987-1990). These organisations had more than 6000 members at any one time. Despite apartheid, membership ranged from Gardens to Guguletu, Manenberg to Macassar. Members were domestic workers, students, housewives, university lecturers, professors, lawyers, factory workers, etc. The UWO was central to the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and for the first few months of its existence here, the UDF used the UWO’s Mowbray offices.
Through tracing the history of women’s political agency and resistance, this study argues that women profoundly contributed to the New SA. Motherhood was the legitimate space granted to them by liberation movements but women transformed motherhood into empowering public roles, affirming demands for citizenship. These aforementioned ANC-supporting structures later broadened out into strategic alliances in order to maximize women’s intervention as negotiations loomed. This illustrates the shifting nature of women’s resistance, what forms they took and how they pragmatically and strategically changed over time. Subsequently the Women’s Alliance was formed and thereafter an even broader structure, the Women’s National Coalition.
This narrative of women’s struggles asserts that despite patriarchy relegating women’s issues as secondary, women’s focussed struggles united diverse women to effective intervention. This culminated in the gender-sensitive constitution.
A secondary focus examines transition from apartheid to ‘women-friendly’ SA. By comparing the demands of The Women’s Charter for Effective Equality (1994) with the 1994-2014 reality of women and by analysing what women themselves state (200 interviews), women’s citizenship is assessed.
The penultimate chapter outlines progress of 20 years of freedom. Many critical challenges remain. The question, within this context, asks whether women in government have contributed to radical transformation of women’s lives.
This study concludes that the achievement of feminist citizenship is uneven. Despite the impressive constitution, the sporadic implementation of gender-sensitive policies, poverty, high levels of violence against women and children and the negative impact of culture and religion are some of the obstacles to women’s comprehensive citizenship. The above is all told from an ‘insider-outsider’ perspective as Gertrude was a leader in all the above struggles.
REVIEW BY SHIRLEY RANDELL
‘I commend Professor Gertrude Fester’s book to all feminists and human rights activists around the world who are interested in the struggle of women in Africa for human rights. Gertrude is in a unique position to write on feminism in South Africa having lived and worked in the women’s liberation struggles through the anti-apartheid movement, been imprisoned for her efforts, privileged to serve in the Mandela Government and lead significant organizations since then. She chooses to focus on grassroots women and women’s organizations and through her insightful interviews their stories become alive for us. Her book is a brave history that will be feasted on by scholars for years to come. ‘
Prof. Shirley Randell AO, PhD, Hon.DLitt
Founder and former director of the Center for Gender, University of Rwanda.
Currently- Pre-service Secondary Training Program Specialist
Ministry of Education, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The book is available at:
SOON TO BE AVAILABLE AT BOOK STORES IN CAPE TOWN!