South Africa

Water is Life: Women's Human Rights in National and Local Water Governance in Southern and Eastern Africa


Hellum, Anne, Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Barbara van Koppen, eds. 2015. Water Is Life: Women’s Human Rights in National and Local Water Governance in Southern and Eastern Africa. Weaver Press. 

Authors: Anne Hellum, Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Barbara van Koppen


This book approaches water and sanitation as an African gender and human rights issue. Empirical case studies from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe show how coexisting international, national and local regulations of water and sanitation respond to the ways in which different groups of rural and urban women gain access to water for personal, domestic and livelihood purposes. The authors, who are lawyers, sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists, explore how women cope in contexts where they lack secure rights, and participation in water governance institutions, formal and informal. The research shows how women – as producers of family food - rely on water from multiple sources that are governed by community based norms and institutions which recognize the right to water for livelihood. How these 'common pool water resources' - due to protection gaps in both international and national law - are threatened by large-scale development and commercialization initiatives, facilitated through national permit systems, is a key concern. The studies demonstrate that existing water governance structures lack mechanisms which make them accountable to poor and vulnerable waters users on the ground, most importantly women. Our findings thus underscore the need to intensify measures to hold states accountable, not just in water services provision, but in assuring the basic human right to clean drinking water and sanitation; and also to protect water for livelihoods.


Table of Contents 
Part I Introduction
1. The Human Right to Water and Sanitation in a Legal Pluralist Landscape: Perspectives of Southern and Eastern African Women
2. Turning the Tide: Engendering the Human Right to Water and Sanitation 
Anne Hellum, Ingunn Ikdahl and Patricia Kameri-Mbote
Part II Kenya
3. Human Rights, Gender and Water in Kenya: Law, Prospects and Challenges 
Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Francis Kariuki
4. Not so Rosy: Farm Workers’ Human Right to Water in the Lake Naivasha Basin 
Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Edna Odhiambo
5. Watered Down: Gender and the Human Right to Water and Reasonable Sanitation in Mathare, Nairobi 
Celestine Nyamu Musembi
6. Gender Dimensions of Customary Water Resource Governance: Marakwet Case Study 
Elizabeth Gachenga
Part III Malawi 
7. The Political Economy of the Human Right to Water and Women in Malawi 
Ngeyi Ruth Kanyongolo, Timothy Chirwa, Asiyati Chiweza and Michael Chasukwa
8. Women’s Right to Water and Participation in Practice: Insights from Urban Local Water Governance Systems 
Asiyati Lorraine Chiweza, Ngeyi Ruth Kanyongolo, Michael Chasukwa and Timothy Chirwa
9. Primary Actors on the Back Seat: Gender, Human Rights and Rural Water Governance in Malawi – Lessons from Mpemba and Chileka 
Part IV Zimbabwe
10. Governance, Gender Equality and the Right to Water and Sanitation in Zimbabwe: Contested Norms and Institutions in an Unstable Economic and Political Terrain 
Anne Hellum, Bill Derman, Ellen Sithole and Elizabeth Rutsate
11. Zimbabwe’s Urban Water Crisis and its Implications for Different Women: Emerging Norms and Practices in Harare’s High Density Suburbs 
Anne Hellum, Ellen Sithole, Bill Derman, Lindiwe Mangwanya and Elizabeth Rutsate
12. Securing Rural Women’s Land and Water Rights: Lessons from Domboshawa Communal Land 
Anne Hellum, Bill Derman, Lindiwe Mangwanya and Elizabeth Rutsate
13. A Hidden Presence: Women Farm Workers Right to Water and Sanitation in the Aftermath of the Fast Track Land Reform 
Elizabeth Rutsate, Bill Derman and Anne Hellum
Part V South Africa 
14. Fixing the Leaks in Women’s Human Rights to Water: Lessons from South Africa 
Barbara van Koppen, Bill Derman, Barbara Schreiner, Ebenezer Durojaye and Ngcime Mweso
15. Gender-Equality in Statutory Water Law: the Case of Priority General Authorizations in South Africa 
Barbara van Koppen and Barbara Schreiner
16. Gender, Rights, and the Politics of Productivity The Case of the Flag Boshielo Irrigation Scheme, South Africa 
Barbara van Koppen, Barbara Tapela and Everisto Mapedza

Topics: Class, Governance, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Year: 2015

BRICS Countries and the Construction of Conflict in the Women, Peace and Security Open Debates


Hamilton, Caitlin, Pagot Rhaíssa, and Laura J Shepherd. 2021. “BRICS Countries and the Construction of Conflict in the Women, Peace and Security Open Debates.” International Affairs 97 (3): 739–57.

Authors: Caitlin Hamilton, Pagot Rhaíssa, Laura J Shepherd


The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda is a diverse field of practice comprised of numerous actors, activities and artefacts. Conventional accounts of WPS development and implementation tend to reproduce a narrative that positions states located in the global North as ‘providers’ of WPS, and those in the South as ‘recipients’. This assumption in turn prescribes, and proscribes, forms of WPS engagement and has a constitutive effect on the agenda itself, as shown by post- and de-colonial analyses of the WPS agenda. This article seeks to explore the WPS practices of a group of states that in many ways challenge these North/South and provider/recipient binaries by explicitly positioning themselves as operating beyond and across them: the BRICS countries, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In this article, we explore how constructions of conflict within the WPS practices of BRICS states relate to the acknowledgement of, and commitment to, the agenda more broadly. We ultimately argue that the BRICS' commitment to the WPS agenda is driven more by identity-making geopolitical considerations, including geostrategic interests, than a politics of peace.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Peace and Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, South Asia, Europe Countries: Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation, South Africa

Year: 2021

Perceptions of Gender, Mobility, and Personal Safety: South Africa Moving Forward


Vanderschuren, Marianne J. W. A., Sekadi R. Phayane, and Alison J. Gwynne-Evans. 2019. “Perceptions of Gender, Mobility, and Personal Safety: South Africa Moving Forward.” Transportation Research Record 2673 (11): 616–27.

Authors: Marianne J.W. A. Vanderschuren, Sekadi R. Phayane, Alison J. Gwynne-Evans


Transport users make mode choices based on a variety of factors. These factors are economic or service driven, based on individual roles, habits, and interests, as well as age, life cycle stage, and gender. Analysis reflects different mobility patterns for males and females relating to care activities. Literature suggests that experiences of harassment have a significant effect on user choices. This study examines how South African data compares with international studies. Mode use and trip purposes, distances, and times differ depending on gender and are affected by the experience of harassment, which affects females more than males. Analyzing trip making in South Africa revealed that travel modes, distances, and times are not significantly different across gender. South African females make fewer trips than males, but significantly more care trips. Different modes of public transport score differently regarding potential experience of harassment, with trains performing the worst. The reason mode choice is not significantly different between females and males is assumed to be because of financial reasons. Investigating harassment perception in Cape Town reveals that females experience harassment more often and this influences their choices regarding care trips. These findings have significant implications for transport policy in South Africa and suggest that more nuanced policies are required.

Topics: Age, Gender, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2019

Social Exclusion and Rural Transport: Gender Aspects of a Road Improvement Project in Tshitwe, Northern Province


Mahapa, Sabina M., and Mac Mashiri. 2001. “Social Exclusion and Rural Transport: Gender Aspects of a Road Improvement Project in Tshitwe, Northern Province.” Development Southern Africa 18 (3): 365–76.

Authors: Sabina M. Mahapa, Mac Mashiri


This article presents a case for a reorientation of the way in which rural transport needs are perceived, planned and provided for, with a view to improved targeting of interventions, particularly with regard to addressing the mobility and accessibility needs of rural women. In addition, it seeks to critically appraise the sustainability of poverty alleviation properties attributed to the labour-based road works, especially in respect of their impact on women. It also explores the role that non-motorised modes of transport could play in reducing the transport burden of the Tshitwe community. 

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2001

Marxist-Feminist Theories and Struggles Today: Essential Writings on Intersectionality, Labour and Ecofeminism


Fakier, Khayaat, Diana Mulinari, and Nora Räthzel, eds. 2020. Marxist-Feminist Theories and Struggles Today: Essential Writings on Intersectionality, Labour and Ecofeminism. London: Zed Books.

Authors: Khayaat Fakier , Diana Mulinari, Nora Räthzel



This vital new collection presents new Marxist-Feminist analyses of Capitalism as a gendered, racialized social formation that shapes and is shaped by specific nature-labour relationships. Leaving behind former overtly structuralist thinking, Marxist-Feminist Theories and Struggles Today interweaves strands of ecofeminism and intersectional analyses to develop an understanding of the relations of production and the production of nature through the interdependencies of gender, class, race and colonial relations. With contributions and analyses from scholars and theorists in both the global North and South, this volume offers a truly international lens that reveals the the vitality of contemporary global Marxist-Feminist thinking, as well as its continued relevance to feminist struggles across the globe (Summary from Zed Books).

Table of Contents:

Khayaat Fakier, Diana Mulinari, Nora Räthzel

Part I – Conceptualising

1. Standpoint Theory
Cynthia Cockburn

2. Outside in the Funding Machine
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

3. Contradictions in Marxist Feminism
Frigga Haug

4. Ecofeminism as (Marxist) Sociology
Ariel Salleh

5. The ‘Flat Ontology’ of Neoliberal Feminism
Jennifer Cotter

6. The Byzantine Eunuch: Pre-capitalist Gender Category, ‘Tributary’ Modal Contradiction, and a Test for Materialist Feminism
Jules Gleeson

7. Reading Marx against the Grain: Rethinking the Exploitation of Care Work Beyond Profit-Seeking
Tine Haubner

Part II – Production

8. Marx and Social Reproduction Theory: Three Different Historical Strands
Ankica Čakardić

9. The Best Thing I Have Done Is to Give Birth; The Second Is to Strike
Paula Mulinari

10. Women in Small Scale Fishing in South Africa: An Ecofeminist Engagement with the ‘Blue Economy’
Natasha Solari and Khayaat Fakier

11. The ‘Crisis of Care’ and the Neoliberal Restructuring of the Public Sector – a Feminist Polanyian Analysis
Rebecca Selberg

12. Gender Regimes and Women’s Labour: Volvo Factories in Sweden, Mexico, and South Africa
Nora Räthzel, Diana Mulinari, Aina Tollefsen

Part III – Religions and Politics

13. Religious Resistance: A Flower on the Chain or a Tunnel towards Liberation?
Gabriele Dietrich

14. A Marxist-Feminist Perspective: From Former Yugoslavia to Turbo Fascism to Neoliberal Postmodern Fascist Europe
Marina Gržinić

15. Feminism, Antisemitism and the Question of Palestine/Israel
Nira Yuval Davis

Part IV – Solidarities

16. Women in Brazilian's Trade Union Movement
Patricia Vieira Trópia

17. Argentinean Feminist Movements: Debates from Praxis
Ana Isabel González Montes

18. Marxist Feminism for a Global Women’s Movement against Capitalism
Ligaya Lindio McGovern

19. Marxist/Socialist Feminist Theory and Practice in the USA Today
Nancy Holmstrom 

20. Solidarity in Troubled Times: Social Movements in the Face of Climate Change
Kathryn Russell

Topics: Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Economies, Care Economies, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Intersectionality, Race, Religion Regions: Africa, MENA, Southern Africa, Americas, North America, South America, Europe, Balkans, Nordic states Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Sweden, United States of America

Year: 2020

Energy Archives: Of Rocks, Rubbish, and Feminist Feeling in Aliki Saragas’s Strike a Rock


Strauss, Helene. 2020. “Energy Archives: Of Rocks, Rubbish, and Feminist Feeling in Aliki Saragas’s Strike a Rock.” Subjectivity 13 (4): 254–80. 

Author: Helene Strauss


Taking the film Strike a Rock (dir. Saragas 2017) as a case study, this paper attends to the affective charge of rocks and rubbish—in their material, symbolic, aesthetic and archival forms—as a feminist challenge to violent extractivism’s intergenerational echo. Set in Nkaneng, a township adjacent to the Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, where in 2012 the South African police opened fire on a group of striking miners, the film traces some of the means by which local women have been negotiating enduring forms of political and economic impasse in their communities. This paper tests an anthrodecentric approach to extractive capitalism’s historical exploitation of mineral, mechanical, muscular and psychic energies as a means to accelerating resistance to forms of violence at once human and ecological. It identifies in Strike a Rock’s documentary aesthetics an energy archive that animates resistant, regenerative political modalities of post-apartheid feminist affect.

Keywords: capitalism, extractives, resistance

Topics: Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Energy Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2020

Mine Decline and Women: Reflections from the Free State Goldfields


Sesele, Kentse, Lochner Marais, Deidre van Rooyen, and Jan Cloete. 2021. “Mine Decline and Women: Reflections from the Free State Goldfields.” The Extractive Industries and Society 8 (1): 211–19. 

Authors: Kentse Sesele, Lochner Marais, Deidre van Rooyen, Jan Cloete


The formal mining industry has marginalised women and created masculine and patriarchal societies. But research on the industry’s effect on women is minimal and mostly atheoretical. The finite nature of mining and its volatility makes mining societies vulnerable. The gender issue is under-recognised, particularly the way mine closure affects women. Most of the mine closure research focuses on the mines’ environmental liabilities. This paper assesses African women’s experience of mine decline and closure in South Africa’s Free State Goldfields. The transition to democracy brought equal economic and political rights (formal equality) to African women in 1994, but mine decline has reinforced gender inequalities since the early 1990s. Substantive equality remains elusive. Women were historically excluded from work in the mining industry and very few were employed in the formal mining sector. Closure of a mine makes it even more difficult for them to participate. It reinforces masculine dominance and women’s household roles while also placing pressure on them to support their households financially.

Keywords: mining, domestic labour, gender inequality

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy Regions: Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2021

Going Underground in South African Platinum Mines to Explore Women Miners’ Experience


Benya, Asanda. 2017. “Going Underground in South African Platinum Mines to Explore Women Miners’ Experiences.” Gender & Development 25 (3): 509–22.

Author: Asanda Benya


Women have worked underground in South African mines since 2003. Their inclusion has been lauded by some as a step in the right direction – that is, towards gender equality in employment, as well as challenging gender stereotypes about work and women’s abilities. This dominant narrative, however, fails to acknowledge and address the challenges faced by women in mining. Using participant observation, living and working alongside women miners over the course of a year, I explored these challenges, and analysed their implications. I argue that if the mining sector wants to fully include women in mining, it needs to go beyond using quotas to achieve gender parity in numbers of women and men workers. While access to these jobs is important, retention depends on addressing the masculine culture which is deeply embedded in mining, making this a very challenging environment for women workers.

Desde 2003, las mujeres han trabajado en las minas subterráneas de Sudáfrica. A pesar de que algunos comentaristas han elogiado su inclusión como un avance hacia la igualdad de género en el empleo y como una manera de cuestionar los estereotipos de género vinculados al trabajo y las habilidades de las mujeres, esta narrativa predominante no reconoce ni enfrenta los retos que deben experimentar en la industria minera. A partir de la observación participante, y considerando mis propias vivencias y el trabajo realizado codo a codo con mujeres mineras durante un año, pude examinar dichos retos y analizar sus implicaciones. Sostengo que si se desea integrar plenamente a las mujeres en las actividades del sector minero éste debe superar el uso de cuotas para lograr la paridad de género en términos del número de trabajadores varones y mujeres. Si bien es importante tener acceso a estos empleos, la retención de las mujeres mineras depende de que esta industria enfrente la profundamente arraigada cultura masculina, a partir de la cual se ha generado un entorno difícil para las mujeres trabajadoras.

Les femmes travaillent sous terre dans les mines sud-africaines depuis 2003. Leur inclusion a été louée par certains comme un pas dans la bonne direction – autrement dit un progrès vers l’égalité entre les sexes sur le marché du travail –, ainsi que comme un aspect remettant en cause les stéréotypes de genre relatifs au travail et aux aptitudes des femmes. Cependant, ce fil narratif dominant ne reconnaît ni n’aborde les défis auxquels sont confrontées les femmes dans le secteur minier. En utilisant les observations des participants et en vivant et travaillant aux côtés de femmes mineurs pendant un an, je me suis penchée sur ces défis et en ai analysé les implications. Je soutiens que si le secteur minier veut pleinement inclure les femmes dans les activités minières, il doit aller au-delà de l’utilisation de quotas pour parvenir à la parité entre les sexes pour ce qui est du nombre d’ouvriers femmes et hommes. Si l’accès à ces emplois est important, la fidélisation dépend d’une lutte contre la culture masculine qui est profondément ancrée dans le secteur minier, ce qui en fait un environnement très difficile pour les ouvrières.

Keywords: women in mining, mining charter, masculine culture, transformation in mining, mining occupational culture

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Masculinism Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2017

A Feminist Perspective on Women and Mining in South Africa


Valiani, Salimah, and Nestor Ndebele. 2018. “A Feminist Perspective on Women and Mining in South Africa.” In The Future of Mining in South Africa: Sunset or Sunrise?, edited by Salimah Valiani, 266-97. Woodmead, Johannesburg: Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA). 

Authors: Salimah Valiani, Nestor Ndebele


“[T]his chapter focuses on South Africa – with its century-long history of mineral-based wealth generation and the recent, formal inclusion of women in the mining industry. It is argued that from a feminist perspective, mining thus far has not constituted a positive development experience for women. This is due to the myriad of occupational challenges faced by the still relatively small numbers of female mine workers, and the yet larger numbers of women negatively affected by the mining industry since its inception in the last quarter of the 19th century. Lahiri-Dutt and Macintyre (2006) have identified that women in mining areas in developing countries are typically not seen as active participants in the economy. Attempting to help reverse this misconception, it is further argued here that suboptimal use of female labour, destruction of community wealth and stunted social reproduction are the overall outcomes of mining for women in South Africa. The argument is demonstrated through discussion of the experiences of various groups of women examined by both academic researchers and advocate-researchers: female asbestos mine workers, female underground mine workers, female agricultural producers affected by mining and female artisanal mine workers” (Valiani & Ndebele, 2018, 267).

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2018

Interventions to Promote Gender Equality in the Mining Sector of South Africa


Kaggwa, Martin. 2020. “Interventions to Promote Gender Equality in the Mining Sector of South Africa.” The Extractive Industries and Society 7 (2): 398–404. 

Author: Martin Kaggwa


This research study explored workplace challenges that women in the South African mining sector still face despite progressive gender sensitive regulations. The purpose of the research was to come up with evidence-based recommendations on how to promote sustainable gender equality in South Africa’s mining sector. A survey approach was used for the research, with a total of 2 365 women working in the mining sector being interviewed. The main challenge faced by the women was lack of career progress followed by discrimination in decision making and in remuneration. Women attributed these challenges to their immediate supervisors and company policies. A key lesson from the research was that legislation can be a useful tool in mitigating workplace challenges for women and reducing gender inequality in the mining sector but it is not a sufficient intervention. The study recommends that deliberate steps should be taken to facilitate and impart skills to women that they need to progress up the employment level hierarchy. This should be done while at the same time opening up opportunities of higher responsibilities for women to hold.

Keywords: mining, women, gender equality, South Africa

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2020


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