Citizenship, Nationality, Gender, and Class in Southern Africa

Published: 12/Nov/1993
Source: Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

By Rudo Gaidzanwa, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political — Feminists Write International Relations (Winter 1993), Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 39-59


There is an abundance of literature on citizenship as a problematic concept for women in Western political thought.  D. H. Coole and Susan Okin, for example, point out that Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau considered men to be strong, active, and at the head of households, and portrayed women as weak, passive, and suited to the work of bringing up children. In such stories, women and men are seen as dependent on each other: men need women to provide the emotional environment necessary for nurturing good citizens, and women receive protection by individual men within the household. This male-headed monogamous family is assumed to be ideal for the society within which citizenship is exercised. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that these gender biases also pervade Southern African contexts of citizenship. To develop this point, it is necessary to consider at greater length the pitfalls of liberal philosophies of citizenship, turning thereafter to several African examples.

Link to JSTOR website.

Themes: Discrimination, Sexuelle
Regions: Afrique australe
Year: 1992