Coalition Building, Election Rules, and Party Politics: South African Women's Path to Parliament


Britton, Hannah E. 2002. “Coalition Building, Election Rules, and Party Politics: South African Women’s Path to Parliament.” Africa Today 49 (4): 33–67.

Author: Hannah E. Britton


This paper argues that pre-transition mobilization by South African women fostered post transition success in constitutional mandates, party politics, and office holding. Informed by examples of failed postliberation gender movements in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Angola, South African women's groups worked collectively and individually to advance gender equality. Women mobilized around their gender identity to form a powerful multiparty women's coalition, which became a vehicle through which women pushed for inclusion in the Constitutional Assembly. Using this external power-base, women's branches of major political parties compelled their parties' leaders to implement affirmative-action measures for candidate recruitment and selection. These measures, particularly the gender quota of the African National Congress, have pressured all political parties to increase the number of women on their party-lists in subsequent elections.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Constitutions, Quotas, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2002

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