This book traces the history of women’s political involvement in Southern Africa, in anti-colonial struggles and against apartheid, analyzes the post-colonial outcomes and examines the strategies that have been employed by women’s movements to gain a foothold in politics.
It looks in detail at the experiences of women both in and with the women’s wings of political parties through the early years of independence up to today, discusses the successes and failures of national machinery for the advancement of women and analyses the activities of women’s movements over time. Extensive material from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa is compared and juxtaposed, as women politicians and women’s movements learned from each others’ experiences over time.
The study also critically addresses the uneasy relationship between the women’s movements and the state, and between women activists and women politicians as they have negotiated cooptation, integration and exclusion. Based on an extensive literature review and innumerable interviews with women politicians and activists as well as fieldwork, and spanning half a century and half a continent, the historical depth and geographical spread of the study put it in a class of its own.