Communicating feminism to the community: the continuing relevance of feminism fifty years after 9 August 1956
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The history of women in South Africa is the history of their oppression due to patriarchy - a system of domination which still persists in South Africa, and has done so since precolonial times. However, in the case of black women, it has been justly argued that under apartheid they suffered from the triple oppression of racism, sexism and classism which characterises the country's history. Although opposition to patriarchy has not so much been in evidence among black women in this country, they do indeed have a history of strong opposition to the politicisation of race. This article traces the historical development of feminism in this country, focusing on African feminism(s) and its multiple manifestations. The role of feminism in the liberation struggle is then explicated by first describing the variety and diversity of patriarchies, followed by an exposition of the surfacing of political consciousness among women in this country. The article concludes that 50 years after the momentous event of 9 August 1956, an active and feminist voice in civil society is still needed due to factors such as the fact that the struggle for gender equity has to a large extent become a state-led venture, and because of what is perceived as a hardening of patriarchies.