Eradicating the patriarchal state: promoting women’s socio-economic rights and achieving gender equity in the economic participation of women in South Africa (1994-2017)
This dissertation is a desktop research study that centres on the socio-economic empowerment of women in South Africa. It argues that despite the myriad legislative, institutional and administrative interventions adopted in South Africa since 1994, patriarchy still persists undermining and threatening the welfare and advancement of women in the country. In the study’s theoretical framework, it highlights patriarchy as the root of gender inequality from a theoretical point of view to a practical viewpoint while revealing the mother of patriarchy as being social institutions, e.g. the family, the school and the religious institutions. In pointing out socio-economic factors that affect gender equality, the following are deliberated on: Poverty and inequality; education; access to the labour market and economic participation; access to credit, land and property and the impact violence has on the participation of women in the economy. A discussion on different feminist traditions considers how the above-mentioned factors contribute to the disadvantaged position women find themselves in and narrows them all down to Colonial Feminism as the most applicable theory to be applied in South Africa. In the discussions, various elements are brought into play, i.e. historical and incumbent socio-cultural dynamics that influences the socio-economic empowerment of women. This study interrogates the roles of the Commission on Gender Equality as a section 9 institution of the Constitution (1996) and the Department of Women as an administrative body set out by the president to assist in fulfilling South African targets as far as its international commitments to achieving gender equality. It also acknowledges the influence that civil society has on the said institutions put in place in raising awareness and the application of women’s rights as set out in the Constitution. Through this narrative, the author hopes to liberate women out of their socio-economic disadvantages. This is on the premise that when women are liberated, they are able to make informed and progressive decisions striving for equity so that equality can be a reality.