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Changing Women's Exclusion from Politics: Examples from Southern Africa

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This article analyses different dimensions of institutional politics, such as women's representation in government and state structures such as National Gender Machineries, as well as the impact that institutionalization has had on women's organizations. To improve women's representation in government the acceptance of quotas to increase the number of women in legislatures has made a difference, but it is still unclear if women's presence leads to power and policy influence. National gender machineries have not really changed conditions of inequality due to their cooptation by the state and their general dysfunctionality. The reliance on institutional politics has lead to a fragmentation and in some cases a demobilization of women's movements that has a negative effect on keeping governments accountable for women's equality. I conclude by arguing that direct action should shift to the transnational level, where feminist solidarity on that level can lead to changes on a local level.


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Affiliations: 1: Political Science, University of Stellenbosch P O Box 1053, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa


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