Volume: Volume 25 (2021) Special Issue
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Carmine Rustin
South Africa is a much better place to live in today than before 1994. Having witnessed a largely peaceful transition from a pariah apartheid State to a democratic State where equality is guaranteed before the law, the country offers rights and justice for all. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa , 1996 set out to rectify the injustices of the past and eliminate the various forms of discrimination that were the hallmarks of an apartheid State. Gender equality was a focal point in the reforms introduced in legislation and government programmes in a new democratic society. In this article I explore what these gendered legislative reforms and measures have meant to South African women, and whether these measures have brought about a positive change in their lives. Framed within a feminist epistemological and methodological approach, I draw on the results of a qualitative study of South Africa women. The results form part of a larger mixed methods study employing both qualitative and quantitative components. Qualitative individual interviews as well as focus groups were conducted. For the majority of women interviewed, the promulgation of legislation was viewed as positive and progressive. Women are now recognised as full citizen, have access to various opportunities, and experience more autonomy and choice. However, participants raised numerous shortcomings in legislation, and challenges that they experienced in their daily lives. For some of the participants, the transformative changes anticipated in the social and economic spheres have not been realised.
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