There is a strong feminist scholarship that examines the fraught relationship between feminism and nationalism. The African National Congress (ANC) stands out as a nationalist movement that has gone further than most in transcending the tendency of nationalist organisations to reinforce women's status as secondary political subjects. Yet there has been little analytical attention to how the ANC operates as a political organisation. This article addresses this issue from the perspective of the ANC in exile and women active within it. Drawing on archival research and interviews, the article pays close attention to the workings of the ANC as a political organisation. It excavates the debates on feminism and autonomy within the ANC, and seeks to understand how feminist demands impacted on processes of organisational democratisation. The article identifies three categories of influence on the increasing assertion of women's interests within the ANC. The first relates to internal organisational experiences, and the second to the theoretical debates that flowed from attempts to find a role for women in national liberation. The third influence was ANC women's exposure to, and interaction with, international feminist debates and with women's organisations in post-independence African countries. These influences not only helped re-shape the ANC as a political organisation but also the nature of democracy instituted after the collapse of the apartheid system.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/0305707042000254056
Journal Journal of Southern African Studies
Citation
Hassim, S. (2004). Nationalism, feminism and autonomy: The ANC in exile and the question of women. Journal of Southern African Studies, 30(3), 433–455. doi:10.1080/0305707042000254056