Variations in women's participation: An Eastern Cape case study
The study accounts for women's political participation in the Eastern Cape towns of Ginsberg, Zwelitsha and Dimbaza in the 1980s. This period is deemed significant given the marked growth in grassroots movements and civic associations, the emerging political consciousness of local women in various parts of the country and the related increase in collective action among groups of women. It outlines the roles of women within the civics, churches and community-based organisations such as the stokvels and manyano. The on-going study also explores the grievances of women in these areas during this period, the ways in which these were addressed and the women centered organisations that were developed. In addition, the similarities and differences in women's activism in all three towns is addressed. It is also acknowledged that in these parts of the Eastern Cape, although very few women’s organisations were formed as separate and autonomous structures during the 1980s, women played pivotal roles in the struggle. While the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) of the 1970s heavily influenced the political consciousness of women in Ginsberg Township, union activism formed a central component of women’s engagement and political resistance in Dimbaza. In Zwelitsha, women relied on the collective unity of the women’s manyano and welfare organisations, while the fear of police surveillance intimidation meant that although they were deeply discontented and politically conscious, they were somewhat restrained in their organisation.