This article examines the politics of women's representation in South Africa. It argues that there has been a significant shift since 1994 in the ways in which women's organisations have articulated women's electoral interests. While women's organisations and women within political parties have been outwardly in agreement about the need for increasing women's representation, there are differences in their policy positions with respect to strategies for advancing equality. Within women's forums, these differences have been openly and sometimes acrimoniously debated. The article suggests that there is a dual electoral politics: an external level at which the coherence of women as a group is emphasised, and an internal level at which differences between women are recognised and debated. This dual politics is seen as inevitable in a situation in which women continue to be numerically under‐represented in electoral bodies. The article examines the consolidation of women's gains in representation in the 1994 and 1999 elections, and suggests ways in which women's constituency building may be strengthened.