Redefining the public space: Women's organisations, gender consciousness and civil society in south africa
Politikon , Volume 25 - Issue 2 p. 53- 76
This article addresses the relationship between civil society and the women's movement in South Africa. It argues that civil society is not a gender‐neutral concept, but is founded on the separation between public and private as two distinct arenas in society. Women's movements in South Africa have constantly challenged these boundaries. The article also explores the emergence of a gender consciousness within South African women's movements. The authors argue that while gender consciousness should not be equated with feminist consciousness, the development of feminism is an element in the success of women's movements’ challenges to unequal relations of gender. Finally, the article addresses the changing relations between women's organisations and the state as a result of the creation of the national machinery for women. The authors argue that these new institutions offer opportunities for women's organisations to pursue claims on state resources and advance struggles for equality. However, the restructured state‐society relations which emerge from engaging these institutions also have the potential to limit the terrain of women's political activities to that of the state.