Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, African History. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 09 March 2021

Women and Apartheidfree

  • Meghan Healy-ClancyMeghan Healy-ClancyDepartment of History, Bridgewater State University


Apartheid, the system of racial and ethnic separation introduced in South Africa in 1948, was a gendered project. The immediate goal of the white Afrikaner men who led the apartheid state was to control black men: to turn black men from perceived political and criminal threats into compliant workers. Under apartheid, African men would travel to work for whites in towns and on mines, but their homes would be in rural ethnic “reserves,” known as “homelands” or “Bantustans.” This vision depended on the labors of African women: while their men migrated to work, women were to maintain their families in the increasingly overcrowded and desolate countryside, reproducing the workforce cheaply while instilling a sense of ethnic difference in their children. “Coloured” (mixed-race) and Indian women were similarly charged with social reproduction on a shoestring, in segregated rural and urban areas. White women uniquely had the franchise and freedom of movement, but they were also constrained by sexually repressive laws.

Apartheid’s gendered vision of production and social reproduction faced continual resistance, and it ultimately failed. First, it failed because African women increasingly moved from rural areas to urban centers, despite laws limiting their mobility. Second, it failed because some women organized across ethnic and racial lines. They often organized as mothers, demanding a better world for a new generation. Both their nationally and internationally resonant campaigns—against pass laws, educational and health care inequities, police brutality, and military conscription—and the fact of their collective organization gradually undermined apartheid. Officials generally underestimated the power of women, and their contributions have continued to be under-appreciated since apartheid ended in 1994, because women’s political style emphasized personal and familial concerns. But because apartheid was premised on transforming how families lived, actions of women in fact undermined the system from its core.

State interventions into the formation and lives of families were central to apartheid: the legal regime of racial and ethnic division that ruled South Africa between the election of Daniel Malan in 1948 and the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, with legacies enduring through the present. From the regime’s inception under the leadership of Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) minister Malan, ideas of racial purity, sexual restraint, and patriarchy were intertwined. Apartheid’s immediate goal was to control black men—turning them from political threats into compliant workers, to ensure South Africa’s development into an industrialized state in which whites would enjoy growing wealth and political hegemony. But apartheid could only work by also controlling women. Apartheid leaders were concerned with black women (a category that includes women classified as African, Indian, or “Coloured”), as well as with white women (both Afrikaners like apartheid leaders, and women from British and other European backgrounds). Officials saw women as central to creating properly ethnicized and racialized subjects, who would fill their prescribed niches in an economy and polity controlled by white men.

Black women undermined the visions of apartheid from its onset. First, many black women refused to be held in place. African women were supposed to remain confined to rural ethnic “reserves” (known as “homelands” or “Bantustans”), cheaply raising compliant workers and ethnic subjects there while their husbands labored for low wages for whites in towns and on the mines. But from apartheid’s start, women increasingly went to town. African women who stayed on the reserves did not all submit quietly to apartheid’s demands, either. Rural women’s organized resistance—in both political organizations and religious groups—was formidable, attracting both state oppression and gradual reforms. As key urban women activists were forced to the countryside in line with apartheid’s strategies of banning activists, the liveliness of rural resistance only grew.

Across South Africa, across lines of race and class, activist women came together to resist apartheid. While they also worked with men, women particularly organized as mothers—a fitting riposte to a regime rooted in restructuring families. Even as their campaigns attracted national and international support, apartheid officials underestimated their impact, generally seeing women as less threatening political actors than men. Since apartheid ended in 1994, women’s contributions to the regime’s collapse have continued to attract less popular and scholarly attention than men’s contributions. Yet controlling personal lives and transforming families were core objectives of apartheid policies. Through both individual and collective action, the gendered life choices of many diverse women therefore undermined apartheid from within.

Male-Led Nationalist Movements and the Roots of Apartheid

In May 1948, the National Party (NP) won the South African general election, inaugurating the era of apartheid: “apartness” in Afrikaans, the Dutch-derived language of the NP’s Afrikaner leaders. The National Party heightened the segregationist policies that had ruled the Union of South Africa since its 1910 formation as a British dominion, ruled by an alliance of British and Afrikaner men. Apartheid added an ideological emphasis on the development of Afrikaners and South Africa’s other ethnic groups, each as a separate volk (people) with distinct racial destinies.1 Very few black men, and no black women, had the franchise in 1948. Whites, who then made up about a quarter of South Africa’s population, therefore determined this election: they included both men and women, as white women had the franchise since 1930, as part of a state strategy to diminish the influence of the small number of black men with the vote.2

Women as well as men generated the ideas that animated Afrikaner nationalism. They highlighted the historical role of Afrikaners—mostly descendants of 17th-century Dutch settlers in the Cape—in bringing Christianity and European civilization to southern Africa. They mourned Afrikaners’ history of oppression on the frontiers of a growing British Empire, particularly Britain’s brutal treatment of women and children in the South African War a half century before. They called for the urgent uplift of poor Afrikaners, to advance their “race”—against the threat posed by the British-descended South Africans who had for the past century and a half exercised influence in politics and the economy on one hand, and against the increasing threats from politically assertive black South Africans on the other.3

The black South Africans who so alarmed Afrikaner nationalists included men and women in the African National Congress (ANC) and similar organizations advocating rights for indigenous Africans, as well as other black people known as “Coloureds” (mixed-race) and Indians (descended from the indentured workers and immigrants who came to Natal from the 19th century). Women played key ideological roles in these groups, stressing their history of protecting their families against the depravities of colonialism and calling for black people to end white domination. But women also struggled against dismissal of their voices by the activist men who led these groups. Women, both black and white, similarly asserted themselves in the male-led Communist Party (CP), which increasingly supported movements for racial equality in South Africa from the mid-1920s through its banning in 1950.4

It was important to the formation of apartheid policies that, despite the role of women at the grassroots of both Afrikaner and black movements, the leaders of the NP and its rivals in 1948 were all men.5 The specter of black men unwilling to submit to white authority, and the inability of the ruling United Party (UP) to make them submit, loomed large in the NP’s 1948 campaign. While the NP achieved its narrow victory with strong support from rural whites, it appealed to white fears of black men in cities. In South Africa, as across the continent in the wake of the Second World War, urban black men were at the helm of organizations that launched boycotts and strikes demanding their rights against white male leaders. The NP particularly feared the potential of activists to spread communism, destroying what they saw as Afrikaner Christian civilization.6 The NP’s solution was to develop a “white man’s country,” headed by Afrikaner patriarchs.7

Legislating Sex and Family: The Foundations of Apartheid

Foundational pieces of apartheid legislation tellingly targeted love and sex—demonstrating how control over sex was critical to the production and maintenance of racial difference.8 In 1949, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act barred marriage between “Europeans” (white South Africans, including Afrikaners, British, and other immigrants from Europe) and “non-Europeans” (African, Coloured, and Indian South Africans).9 It was followed by the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950, which prohibited sex between whites and all blacks. This extended the 1927 Immorality Act, which had already restricted sex outside of marriage between whites and Africans: the word “native” in the original act was replaced by the more encompassing “non-European” here.10 These broadening and hardening restrictions on intimacy revealed officials’ sense that “European civilization” in southern Africa was under siege, and the first place to shore it up was the family home. Interracial sex and marriage would remain illegal until 1985.11

Controlling intimacy entailed categorizing people. In the Immorality Amendment Act, the terms “European” and “non-European” were defined culturally: “‘European’ means a person who in appearance obviously is, or who by general acceptance and repute is a European,” and vice versa.12 Soon after, the Population Registration Act of 1950 established a national register, to categorize each South African more bindingly by race and ethnicity.13 The accompanying Group Areas Act established the country’s firm segregation along racial and ethnic lines, with specific “groups” restricted to specific regions and neighborhoods; black married women’s ethnicity followed that of their husbands.14 This legislation displaced black families from their homes and communities, as mixed neighborhoods such as Johannesburg’s Sophiatown and Cape Town’s District Six were declared “white areas.” Ultimately, some 3.5 million black South Africans would be forced to move under apartheid.15 Families could also be separated when the race of their children fell into doubt.16

The apartheid state’s struggle for control over racial reproduction manifested in family-planning policies that urged white women to have children while encouraging black women to limit family size. Puritanical, DRC-influenced ideas of women’s chastity discouraged the pursuit of sexual pleasure and agency for all women. While abortion was illegal for all South African women, spectacular court cases concerned white rather than black women. Intrusive policies, supported by many employers and the state, required black women to have contraceptive injections to keep their jobs; doctors employed sterilization far more readily for black women than for whites throughout the apartheid years. Black women’s primary modes of employment—domestic service, farm labor, factory work, teaching, nursing, and clerical work—were not conductive to pregnancy, forcing many mothers to send their children to live with distant relatives. Due to black men’s low wages, black women were much more likely to need to work than white women, connecting reproductive rights to labor issues.17

Gendered labor policies were at the heart of apartheid, in intersection with marriage and housing policies. To secure the labor of black men while limiting their presence in towns and cities declared to be predominantly white areas, an existing system of male migrant labor was further entrenched. This system had emerged with the development of diamond and gold mining over the latter half of the 19th century: labor recruiters, chiefs, and rural African families sent young men to work in distant towns, while African women were to support rural families, leading to growing domestic tensions.18 From 1952, African men aged sixteen or older legally had to carry identity documents called passes with them, to justify their presence outside of the rural ethnic “reserves” to which officials consigned Africans.19 As the land in these reserves was insufficient in size and quality, men needed to work in urban areas to support themselves and their families, and to pay taxes. They could generally only reside in urban areas as long as their passes attested to employment by whites, staying in hostels intended for temporary sojourns in segregated areas called “townships.” Exceptions were those who had been born in the urban area where they lived, who had lived in that area legally for fifteen years, or who had worked for the same employer in that area for a decade: such men and their dependents had “Section Ten” rights to live in urban townships as a family, as long as they were not deemed “idle” or “undesirable.”20 Most urban housing was deliberately unwelcoming to families, who were supposed to remain in the countryside, eking out a living by women’s farming, to supplement the low wages received by migrant men.21

In rural areas filled increasingly with African women and children, the authority of male chiefs—both hereditary and appointed—reigned supreme. The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 entrenched chiefly authority to administer “customary law,” a patriarchal system under which African women remained legal minors throughout their lives. Legal minor status meant that African women could not enter into contracts or own homes or other property in their own right; children legally belonged to their fathers or male kin. Customary law collapsed and distorted diverse precolonial African legal systems in which women had generally held more authority, especially as they aged.22 The distorted power of “traditional” chiefs deepened in the 1960s. The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 provided the legal basis for the “gradual development of self-governing Bantu national units” out of the ethnic reserves to which Africans were consigned.23 Ten rural ethnic reserves formed: officials called them “homelands” or “Bantustans,” and in 1970, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act declared Africans “citizens” of their homelands, not of South Africa.24 Reforms in the 1980s allowed for African women’s growing emancipation from customary law: for instance, in 1981 the KwaZulu Bantustan introduced reforms so that adult women, married or unmarried, could legally own property and make other legal decisions, following popular pressure.25 But African women continued to struggle against chiefly authority that privileged men.

As wives, women were generally subject to their husband’s authority. This was true not only for African women, but also for other black and white women; unless they secured a prenuptial contract, the default through most of apartheid was that even privileged white women lost power to make legal decisions upon marriage.26 As mothers, however, women were charged with the critical responsibility of raising a new generation of workers and ethnic patriots. For Africans, this new generation was supposed to see their political futures not in “white South Africa” but in their rural ethnic reserves. African mothers were to send their children to new state schools, in an ethnically differentiated system called Bantu Education, while Indian, Coloured, and white women were to send their children to distinct schools.27

At the crux of apartheid production and social reproduction therefore stood women, whom officials intended to be compliant wives and mothers in a segregated society. But increasing numbers of women refused to stand in their imposed places.

Black Women’s Urban Mobility Challenges Apartheid

Black women had lived in towns and cities long before apartheid, attracted to urban life both by a desire to escape rural familial tensions and by economic necessity. African access to land had been severely restricted since the Natives Land Act of 1913, with clearly declining land productivity by the 1920s, and the rural reserves grew more stressed with apartheid’s forced relocations. Women’s options for formal urban employment were limited, with most consigned to domestic service. But women had long been developing a vibrant informal urban sector: they brewed and sold beer and other foods to male migrant workers and operated bars called “shebeens,” among other jobs. By the early 1950s, more than a fifth of African women were urban, and many of these women lived in ethnically mixed neighborhoods.28

While black women’s urbanity concerned officials before apartheid—especially when they worked as prostitutes—officials had never been sure what to do about it. African men in major cities had been required to carry individual passes before apartheid, although laws varied by municipality.29 But officials had rarely imposed individual passes on women. This was, first, because attempts to do so had engendered resistance, as seen in Bloemfontein in 1913, when hundreds marched against pass laws for black women.30 At a deeper level, officials expected African women to be governed through their men. When laws referred to “natives,” they usually meant African men; African women were seldom singled out as political subjects, as they were legal minors under customary law and thus not proper “persons” in their own rights.31 The language of 1952 pass-law legislation was characteristically vague—first stating that pass laws would apply to “every native” aged sixteen or older, but then shifting to masculine pronouns.32

Officials prevaricated about when and how pass laws would be extended to African women under the terms of the 1952 legislation, facing public outrage about this intrusion into family life.33 Then, in 1955, officials announced that individual passes would soon be issued to African women; women’s organized resistance, discussed in the next section, delayed full implementation of this requirement until 1963.

Yet women kept moving to cities, whether or not they could claim Section Ten rights or passes testifying to their legal right to be there temporarily. Many lived covertly in “informal settlements” of shacks, or with men in migrant labor hostels. They faced frequent prosecution for breaking the law and forced deportations to Bantustans: this risk was especially pronounced for Africans in Cape Town, where most working-class jobs were reserved for “Coloured” men, and where African women had access to few formal jobs outside of low-paid domestic service.34 But women often turned right around after their deportations to catch the next bus into town, despite feeling “like a hare being chased around, hunted.”35 The everyday presence of black families—in urban spaces legally defined as white, where black people were only supposed to appear as necessary to meet white labor needs—powerfully challenged core tenets of apartheid.36 Ultimately, the expense of combatting this unstoppable movement of black families to cities forced apartheid officials to end pass laws in 1986.37 African women’s migration then accelerated, with continually rising numbers of female-headed households.38 Black women’s defiant mobility thus worked to renegotiate relationships between genders and generations.

Amidst this insistent mobility, growing numbers of women in rural reserves were also not fulfilling the roles that officials envisioned. Resistance to the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 surged quickly, and women played key roles in rejecting the cooption of chiefly authority and implementation of new agricultural policies, with organized protests in places including the Western Transvaal area of Zeerust (1957) and the Natal countryside (1959). The latter protests significantly linked urban and rural issues, as women protested both apartheid removals from the interracial urban community of Cato Manor in Durban and intrusive “betterment schemes” and taxes in the rural reserves surrounding the city.39 While the ANC did not initiate these protests, its members were involved in them, and ANC membership increased in their aftermath. Rural women’s engagement in religious groups such as mothers’ prayer unions (manyano), which also boasted linked urban branches, provided another font for growing anti-apartheid organization. Cyclical migration—driven by forced removals and by women’s decisions to return to rural areas after periods of work in cities—kept urban and rural communities linked.40

Anti-apartheid linkages between towns and countryside would only accelerate as apartheid officials increasingly “banned” political leaders to remote districts, to try to eliminate them as national leaders amidst surging protests from the 1950s. This strategy could backfire, as banned leaders connected with people in these rural districts whom they would not otherwise have met. Women often made these connections by engaging in social-welfare work, which seemed less objectionable to officials than overt political organizing. Most famously, during their bannings in the 1970s and 1980s, the Black Consciousness movement activist Mamphela Ramphele and the ANC activist Winnie Mandela organized health clinics, which became centers for spreading anti-apartheid ideas.41 The politicizing role of health care speaks to women’s broader sociocultural style of anti-apartheid organization.

Women’s Collective Organization Challenges Apartheid

The pattern of male leadership of political movements, and women’s influence at movements’ grassroots, persisted through the apartheid years, with women tending to play influential roles in sociocultural wings of the anti-apartheid movement. In the 1950s, women first organized against apartheid as mothers, uniting across lines of race and class. Both the achievements and limits of their foundational strategies set a pattern, which would emerge vividly in the 1960s and 1970s. The pattern was that women would organize most effectively by using discourses of family. But when women raised sensitive issues pertaining to their own family lives that did not fit within activist campaigns, men often dismissed these issues as ancillary to immediate political struggles. Many women would come to share male leaders’ emphasis on family as a strategic political discourse more than an immediate site of political struggle. This was so especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when major liberation movements were forced into exile and key male and female leaders banned, heightening the stakes of eliminating anything deemed a “distraction.” Finally, in the 1980s and during the transition to democracy in the 1990s, women increasingly challenged activists’ sublimation of personal issues in political arenas, using indigenous and international forms of feminist critique.

The Congress Alliance and Federation of South African Women in the 1950s: The Foundational Period

In the 1950s, opposition to apartheid centered in the Congress Alliance: a front of anti-apartheid movements in which the ANC played a predominant role, in partnership with the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People’s Congress, and the white leftist Congress of Democrats. The Congress Alliance was a “multiracial” organization because it comprised those racially distinct affiliate organizations. In the mid-1950s, two major nonracial member organizations—comprising both black and white members—joined the Congress Alliance: the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). Women played important roles in the SACTU, as unions provided a distinctive forum in which women could unite as workers across racial lines.42 And female trade unionists played central roles in the 1954 launching of FEDSAW—as did women from the ANC.

FEDSAW’s first president was Ida Mtwana, former president of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL); her better-known successor as FEDSAW’s leader, Lilian Ngoyi, also served as president of the ANCWL. Both women worked in the garment industry, and their activism characteristically emphasized issues of work and family. On one hand, the women often spoke of women’s commitment to anti-apartheid struggle as necessitating that they move away from domestic responsibilities. For instance, Mtwana declared at FEDSAW’s founding meeting, “Gone are the days when the place of women was in the kitchen and looking after the children. Today, they are marching side by side with men in the road to freedom,” in political meetings and in trade unions. But Mtwana went on to stress that women’s public activism was rooted in their responsibilities as mothers: “We cannot sit down and fold our arms when attempts are being made to hold our progress and that of our children . . . If we do not fight now, it will be too late, and our children will curse us for our callousness.”43

Such invocations of familial responsibilities should not be taken narrowly as statements about individual women’s lives, but broadly as skillful public discourse. Several key FEDSAW leaders—including Miss Ida Mtwana—were unmarried or childless themselves. Black women drew upon the public leadership they exercised as mothers in their communities to forge ties across racial lines, appealing to white women through appeals to a shared moral economy of motherhood. Discourses of motherhood therefore demonstrated black women’s rejection of apartheid ideas of white women as “empire builders” and black mothers as social problems, and reflected black women’s bold political imagination of a shared community of mothers with a responsibility for creating an anti-racist world.44

Unifying maternal discourses were an achievement, because divisions between black and white women ran deep. After all, the major space of interracial encounter was domestic service, where black women tended intimately to the needs of white “madams” and their children for low pay, often living away from their own children to stay in the backyards of their employers.45 Moreover, white women had won suffrage in 1930 at the expense of black men’s loss of their limited franchise, something that black activists did not forget.46 Making connections across racial lines—including among African, Coloured, and Indian women, who increasingly lived in separate communities—was a great challenge.

Despite tensions, FEDSAW succeeded in uniting women as mothers against apartheid policies that divided black families and communities: centrally, against pass laws and Bantu Education. In June 1955, FEDSAW participated in the Congress Alliance’s Congress of the People in Kliptown, Johannesburg, where FEDSAW issued a list of “What Women Demand,” beginning with claims to rights such as paid maternity leave, child care, and contraception “FOR ALL MOTHERS OF ALL RACES.”47 Famously, FEDSAW then organized multiracial delegations of women to march on the seat of the apartheid government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria. FEDSAW and COD member Helen Joseph was inspired by a liberal white women’s organization, Black Sash, which had been “haunting” apartheid officials by surrounding them with groups of women wearing the eponymous black sashes, signs of mourning against apartheid policies.48 With her comrades in FEDSAW, Joseph incited more powerful, multiracial activism.

On October 27, 1955, two thousand women followed the symbolic quartet of Joseph, ANCWL president Lilian Ngoyi, Coloured People’s Congress activist Sophie Williams, and the heavily pregnant South African Indian Congress activist Rahima Moosa, bearing petitions to leave for cabinet ministers. On August 9, 1956, a day now celebrated as Women’s Day, twenty thousand women marched with FEDSAW on the Union Buildings, coming from as far away as Cape Town, and leaving thick stacks of individual petitions protesting the extension of passes to women on the doorstep of the prime minister’s office.49 The women, many with children, sang the ANC’s anthem and taunting anti-apartheid songs, then gathered for a half hour of stunning silence, richly documented by journalists and photographers. Such iconic activism delayed implementation of pass laws for women until 1963, but it also led to deepening state repression against FEDSAW activists that made the organization effectively moribund by the early 1960s.

FEDSAW members struggled not only with divisions among anti-apartheid women but also with struggles between these women and officials. They also confronted tensions with anti-apartheid men—tensions amplified by the ANC’s dominance in the Congress Alliance. Men had consistently served as ANC presidents from its 1912 founding, even though women had been full members of the ANC and leaders of the ANCWL since 1943. Significantly, as scholar Shireen Hassim has described, the early ANC “was a political family and it replicated the hierarchical form of a patriarchal institution.”50 The ANCWL’s founding president, Madie Hall Xuma, was the wife of the ANC’s president, Dr. A. B. Xuma. The National Executive Committee (NEC) was all male prior to Lilian Ngoyi’s election to it in late 1956, recognizing her impressive work in FEDSAW. The NEC mediated between the party’s membership and the state, while the ANCWL focused on the everyday social and economic needs of its membership; both oversaw the ANC Youth League, which pushed party elders leftward. Women in both the Youth League and Women’s League often chafed against the restrictions of male party leaders, who encouraged women to engage in educational campaigns rather than confronting authorities with further protests after 1956.51 Men’s attitudes reflected both a protective impulse, and patriarchal assumptions that women should remain marginal to politics.52 Above all, Congress Alliance men often failed to see women’s discussions of family issues that did not fit into the central activist platform as matters of politics. For instance, they responded to FEDSAW women’s discussions of family planning with what scholar Cherryl Walker has characterized as “jocular dismissal.”53

Anti-apartheid men’s dismissal of women’s discussions of family planning was profoundly ironic, for two reasons. First, intimate issues of family were actually central to issues of apartheid governance, which hinged on control of racialized bodies and homes. Second, activist men relied upon women’s deft public rhetoric of motherhood to bring more activists into the anti-apartheid movement; they acknowledged anti-pass issues as central to the movement.54 Yet most activists were no more ready for open discussions about real tensions of sexuality and family than were puritanical apartheid officials. Other matters of oppression loomed too large. Reticence about public discussion of sexuality applied to both male and female activists. Most had been raised in religiously conservative homes and schools where intimate matters were treated delicately, were Communists who saw gender issues as subordinate to class issues, or were both Communists and Christians. Anti-apartheid activists’ reliance on rallying familial discourses, but discomfort talking about family tensions that did not fit within the central anti-apartheid platform, would deepen with state repression in the 1960s and 1970s, as the need for activist discipline (already significant in the 1950s) grew.

Navigating the Personal and the Political, at the Height of the Anti-apartheid Movement

In April 1960, officials banned the ANC and a rival organization, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), after women and men’s rising anti-pass activism and escalating police violence against protestors. From this point until February 1990, the major liberation movements went underground, with key leaders in exile, imprisoned, repeatedly detained, or personally banned. All of these assaults on leaders were profoundly disruptive to family life.55 Women lost organizational autonomy in the interest of streamlining underground operations: in 1969, the ANCWL was replaced by the ANC Women’s Section, which Hassim describes as turning into “the movement’s social worker.”56

Iconography of women and families played an integral role in an increasingly global anti-apartheid movement. This movement was shaped both by new armed wings of the ANC and PAC launched in 1961, and by a transnational civil-societal campaign encouraging boycotts and diplomatic pressure on the apartheid regime that grew stronger after South Africa left the British Commonwealth in 1961. Within South Africa, women’s social and cultural work fueled a new movement called Black Consciousness, rooted among students and workers across the country from the late 1960s. Black Consciousness activism would explode in a wave of student protests against Bantu Education in 1976, which began in the Johannesburg township of Soweto but turned into a national schools boycott after police massacred student protestors. After 1976, new waves of activists—especially youth—fled South Africa, and the country’s international pariah status worsened.

Women were a minority of armed combatants plotting sabotage from across South Africa’s borders, but both the iconography and presence of women has attracted attention—particularly from scholars of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK, or Spear of the Nation). Conspicuous in MK’s propaganda were images of what scholar Kim Miller has called “moms with guns”: women with babies on their backs, weapons in hand, and fury in their eyes.57 Female MK members could experience a thrilling sense of equality with men, particularly in cases where women held rank, and women performed critical roles smuggling weapons into South Africa. But women were also confronted with sexism and harassment from their comrades, the product of the very male-dominated atmosphere of MK camps.

Most troubling for many MK women were the ANC’s policies on pregnancy and childrearing, which reflect the essential contradictions between discourses and realities of family in the anti-apartheid struggle. Pregnancy was supposed to be forbidden for MK women, with some forcibly fitted with IUDs. MK women did inevitably become pregnant, however, especially after new waves of young activists flocked into MK camps from 1976, and as the camps faced prolonged periods of minimal activity, plotting and training for many military expeditions that never occurred. Pregnant women would be sent to the ANC’s Charlotte Maxeke Mother and Child Centre in Morogoro, Tanzania—which they understood as a punishment, as this remote exile-within-exile took them away from camps in the frontline states. By the late 1980s, the Women’s Section complained to the party officials of years of demanding day-care facilities near MK camps so that women could be mothers while preparing as soldiers, without result: “We seem to travel in a dead end street with marriage and babies being at the end of the street. There is not and can never be a contradiction between marriage and having babies on one hand and fighting on the other.”58 Yet MK women could only be “moms with guns” in propaganda.

Women had more space in the cultural wings of the global anti-apartheid movement, as ANC president O. R. Tambo particularly supported the deployment of eloquent and engaging women in exile: women were central to the Mayibuye Cultural Ensemble in London, and Barbara Masekela led the ANC’s Arts and Culture wing in the 1980s, for instance. South Africa’s most prolific, globally influential anti-apartheid novelist was a middle-class white woman in suburban Johannesburg, Nadine Gordimer. Black woman artists in exile, like Miriam Makeba and Lauretta Ngcobo, generated support for the anti-apartheid movement in the United States and Europe.

Within South Africa, educational institutions became important sites for young women’s anti-apartheid thought and organizing. Inanda Seminary, a high school drawing some of the brightest African girls from around the country to its campus near Durban, was an especially lively site during the 1970s. There young women met visiting activists like Steve Biko, a radical medical student at the nearby University of Natal, and Fatima Meer, an Indian academic-activist based at that university. While black women remained severely underrepresented in higher education compared to black men or whites, black girls’ high school attendance was rising dramatically during the apartheid years, such that by the early 1980s more black girls than black boys would be in high school. This was an outcome of apartheid policies promoting the education of black female teachers and nurses to work in new Bantustan schools and clinics, as officials saw women as both cheaper to employ and more politically tractable.59 As the cases of banned activists setting up politically vibrant rural clinics make clear, women’s work in social professions could give them an entrée to anti-apartheid organizing. Such work could be particularly politicizing as women were confronted directly with apartheid’s violence, especially in clinics and social work.60

The Black Consciousness (BC) movement, while helmed by men like Steve Biko, was undergirded by the work of young women in clinics, schools, and journalism, working to unite black women and men—African, Indian, and Coloured—to end apartheid.61 Yet women in BC, like women in the liberation movements in exile, ran up against frustrating gendered limitations. As Mamphela Ramphele notes of her time as a leader in the South African Students’ Organisation, the key BC group until its 1977 banning: “I became quite an aggressive debater and was known for not suffering fools gladly. Moreover, I intimidated men who did not expect aggression from women. Soon a group of similarly inclined women, Vuyelwa Mashalaba, Nomsisi Kraai, Deborah Matshoba and Thenjiwe Mthintso, became a force to be reckoned with at annual SASO meetings. Ours was not a feminist cause at that time—feminism was a later development in my political consciousness—but an insistence on being taken seriously as activists in our own right amongst our peers.”62 Attempts at organizing BC women, such as Fatima Meer and Winnie Mandela’s Black Women’s Federation in 1975, similarly attempted to develop women’s self-assertion while shying away from the label “feminism.”63

Hassim’s Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa has most vividly shown how often anti-apartheid activists—particularly women of color—resisted calling themselves feminists, or discussing issues of gender inequity within their movements in public from the 1970s. It was not only that feminism was often rejected as an imported, “white” ideology without indigenous roots. That critique reflected the overrepresentation of white academics in South Africa’s second-wave feminist groups, the dramatic differences between the conditions of white and black women’s lives, and global moves of African American and “Third World” women toward less individualistic ideologies like “womanism.” As state oppression grew more pervasive in the 1980s—with prolonged “states of emergency” of military rule by mid-decade—feminism could seem a divisive distraction that activists should not indulge.

Yet Hassim has also shown how individual women’s connections of their experiences with those of other women could lead them, like Mamphele, to feminist consciousness. This happened as women grew involved in a resurgent wave of grassroots organizations—called township “civics”—as part of the United Democratic Front (UDF), a new, aboveground coalition of anti-apartheid groups stressing non-racialism and democracy from 1983. Three major regional women’s groups formed: the United Women’s Organisation in the Western Cape (UWO), the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW), and the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW). These groups were inspired by FEDSAW, which ANC activists were then trying to reestablish within South Africa. An emerging challenge facing women in these movements was how to connect personal issues with the political system that shaped them and that they shaped—against many activist men and women’s tendencies to sublimate intimate issues. Activist Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande recalled, “NOW comrades were asking, ‘Why write about rape all the time?’ These were seen as weird issues to focus on. They said people should speak about the state of emergency, not about wife battering . . . Even I don’t remember once challenging a NOW meeting to speak about these issues. I just felt overwhelmed by the fact that it wasn’t appropriate.”64 In Natal in particular, the brewing civil war between UDF activists and the Zulu nationalist group Inkatha (sponsored by the apartheid government) put discussion of such issues on the backburner for many activists in the 1980s. But growing sexual violence was a significant part of Natal’s political violence, laying the groundwork for the province’s high rates of HIV/AIDS after the democratic transition.

Throughout the anti-apartheid struggle, women were routinely underestimated and ignored as political actors. Officials’ underestimation of women could open up valuable political space. Women running politically lively clinics and schools, for instance, were not seen as threatening, while male-led political groups attracted more censure.65 Yet the neglect of core issues of gendered inequality as apolitical—by many male and female activists—left lingering contradictions after apartheid’s end. The democratic transition in 1994 was in some respects remarkably progressive on gender and sexuality, with a constitution enshrining equality and unprecedented rights for LGBTQ citizens; but ANC leaders’ compromises with chiefs meant that women living under customary law could not realize this equality. Moreover, everyday gendered inequities—in issues from employment, to pervasive sexual violence—plague post-apartheid society. While South African women undermined apartheid from its gendered core, they have yet to realize core rights of gendered citizenship.

Discussion of the Literature

Work in this field began to emerge in the 1980s. Scholars, many of whom were also activists, began to develop an anti-apartheid feminism that acknowledged the harm done by a national liberation movement that could not fully grapple with gendered oppression during its long struggle. Marxism was influential in this early work. Scholars working during the late apartheid years were therefore concerned with (1) how gendered oppression had been integral to the racial capitalism that anti-apartheid activists were fighting, and (2) how feminism and nationalism were linked. The second theme will be explored in detail here, as it has recently been attracting more attention from a new wave of scholars.

On the first point, Belinda Bozzoli’s 1983 essay, “Marxism, Feminism and South African Studies,” examined the “patchwork quilt of patriarchies” through which the migrant labor system foundational to apartheid had developed.66 Probing gendered histories of domestic service, factory work, nursing, and mining followed.67

Walker’s Women and Resistance in South Africa, first published in 1982 with a second edition in 1991, was the germinal study connecting the gendered foundations of apartheid rule with women’s development of strategies of collective resistance. The book emerged from Walker’s University of Cape Town thesis, drawing upon archives, activist memoirs, and interviews about the Federation of South African Women. But it also offers a deeper history of women’s urban migration, rural struggles, and links with male-led organizations, extending far beyond FEDSAW. Walker raised two central questions that shaped subsequent scholarship. First was the question of how apartheid-era South African women’s organizing was both emboldened and constrained by the movement for national liberation out of which it emerged. Second was the question of how, why, and to what consequences motherhood has united South African women.

In the first edition, Walker contended that both FEDSAW women’s lack of organizational autonomy and tendency to unite as mothers limited their feminism, seeing women as bound to both patriarchal politics and patriarchal homes. In the preface to the second edition, she backed away from seeing maternal appeals as primarily conservative, following pointed critiques of this approach as reductive and predicated on Western understandings of family life as a refuge from the public sphere. Hassim’s 2006 Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority pursued the question of women’s organizational autonomy more fully, extending her examination to the ANC in exile, women’s grassroots organizations in the 1980s, and the democratic transition. Like Walker, Hassim adjudged that the subordination of South African women’s organizations to the increasingly pressing needs of its national liberation movement ultimately constrained the gender-transformational potential of the democratic transition.

Nomboniso Gasa’s essay on 1950s women’s organizing in her 2007 edited volume, Women in South African History, challenged the theoretical premises of both of Walker’s central questions, as well as Julia Wells’s maintenance of the position that the “motherist” politics driving anti-pass protests were fundamentally conservative.68 “At the heart of the earlier struggles is the fact that African women were homeless by state design,” Gasa argued. “Their struggle against the pass laws, which were a tangible way of infringing their rights, was, in fact a struggle to be in the public domain at the same time as a struggle for free movement.”69 Building on Gasa’s intervention—and on the questions about motherhood Walker posited in her own auto-critique—scholars have begun to address the histories of motherhood in southern Africa that gave maternal politics very different meanings for black and white women, and to examine how family tensions played out politically during the liberation struggle.70

The most important counterpoint to Walker’s and Hassim’s argument that female activists’ lack of autonomy from that national liberation movement limited their feminism remains Zine Magubane’s extensive 2010 essay, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990: A Theoretical Re-interpretation,” in the Road to Democracy series. Revisiting Walker’s and Hassim’s sources and examining additional interviews, activist memoirs, and archives of FEDSAW and the ANC, Magubane argues that autonomy was not a viable option: groups like FEDSAW derived strength from their roots in political groups and trade unions.71 Further, she contends that black women’s emphasis on motherhood did not entrench patriarchy, but rather asserted black women’s moral leadership over white women in a growing popular struggle. Drawing on women’s own conceptions of their activism, she shows how political motherhood in FEDSAW, and in subsequent movements influenced by FEDSAW, was an ideology rooted in black women’s experiences of not only caring for their own children, but also taking community leadership roles on the basis of their maternal authority.72 New scholarship is only beginning to grapple with the challenges and opportunities that transformations in the political meanings and everyday experiences of family brought to women, and to men, during apartheid and in the transition to democracy.73

Primary Sources

National and provincial archives, with a searchable online database, contain information on both foundational gendered legislation and protests against key policies such as pass laws. The most revealing archives document anti-apartheid resistance, however. Compared to anti-apartheid men, relatively few women have extensive personal archives. The University of the Witwatersrand’s Historical Papers do contain some (such as those of Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, and Hilda Bernstein of FEDSAW) and FEDSAW’s organizational archives; key sources, including the FEDSAW papers, have been digitized. Other major collections include the ANCWL papers housed at the Mayibuye Archive, at the University of the Western Cape, and the central ANC Archives at the University of Fort Hare; both of these collections regrettably lack complete, searchable online databases at the time of writing. Campbell Collections at the University of KwaZulu-Natal contains archives for women’s organizations such as the Natal Organization of Women. Many women have published memoirs of their anti-apartheid activism and imprisonment,74 and extensive oral histories have been collected on women’s experiences of exile.75 Prominent women have also authored collections of essays and creative writing reflecting critically on the apartheid years.76 Other published primary sources include Shula Marks’ collection of letters between a troubled schoolgirl and her benefactors in apartheid’s early years, and an anthology of regional writing.77 Key feminist anti-apartheid periodicals may be found in JSTOR’s Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa collection.

Further Reading

  • Berger, Iris. Threads of Solidarity: Women in South African Industry, 1900–1980. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.
  • Bernstein, Hilda. For Their Triumphs and Their Tears: Women in Apartheid South Africa. London: International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, 1978.
  • Bozzoli, Belinda. “Marxism, Feminism and South African Studies.” Journal of Southern African Studies 9.2 (April 1983): 139–171.
  • Bozzoli, Belinda, and Mmantho Nkotsoe. Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migration in South Africa, 1900–1983. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1991.
  • Cock, Jacklyn. Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation. Johannesburg: Ravan, 1980.
  • Gasa, Nomboniso, ed. Women in South African History: Basus’iimbokodo, bawel’imilambo/They Remove Boulders and Cross Rivers. Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council Press, 2007.
  • Hassim, Shireen. Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.
  • Hassim, Shireen. The ANC Women’s League: Sex, Gender and Politics. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2015.
  • Healy-Clancy, Meghan. A World of Their Own: A History of South African Women’s Education. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014.
  • Hunter, Mark. Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2010.
  • Joseph, Helen. Tomorrow’s Sun: A Smuggled Journal from South Africa. London: Hutchinson, 1966.
  • Klausen, Susanne M. Abortion under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Kuzwayo, Ellen. Call Me Woman. London: The Women’s Press, 1985.
  • Lee, Rebekah. African Women and Apartheid: Migration and Settlement in Urban South Africa. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009.
  • Mager, Anne. Gender and the Making of a South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945–1959. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.
  • Magubane, Zine. “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990: A Theoretical Re-interpretation.” In The Road to Democracy in South Africa, vol. 4. Edited by South African Democracy Education Trust, 975–1036. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 2010.
  • Mandela, Winnie. 91 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013.
  • Marks, Shula. Not Either an Experimental Doll: The Separate Worlds of Three South African Women. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.
  • Marks, Shula. Divided Sisterhood: Race, Class, and Gender in the South African Nursing Profession. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1994.
  • Mashinini, Emma. Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life. New York: Routledge, 1991.
  • Ngcobo, Lauretta, ed. Prodigal Daughters: Stories of South African Women in Exile. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2012.
  • Ramphele, Mamphela. A Bed Called Home: Life in the Migrant Labour Hostels of Cape Town. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1993.
  • Ramphele, Mamphela. Across Boundaries: The Journey of a South African Woman Leader. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1996.
  • Walker, Cherryl. Women and Resistance in South Africa. Cape Town: David Philip, 1982.
  • Wells, Julia C. We Now Demand! The History of Women’s Resistance to Pass Laws in South Africa. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1993.


  • 1. Saul Dubow, Apartheid, 1948–1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 10–13.

  • 2. Cherryl Walker, Women and Resistance in South Africa (Cape Town: David Philip, 1991), 23.

  • 3. Marijke Du Toit, “The Domesticity of Afrikaner Nationalism: Volksmoeders and the ACVV, 1904–1929,” Journal of Southern African Studies 29.1 (2003): 155–176.

  • 4. Meghan Healy-Clancy, “Women and the Problem of Family in Early African Nationalist History and Historiography,” South African Historical Journal 64.3 (2012): 450–471.

  • 5. Natasha Erlank, “Gender and Masculinity in South African Nationalist Discourse, 1912–1950,” Feminist Studies 29.3 (2003): 653–671.

  • 6. Dubow, Apartheid, 7–8.

  • 7. Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 354.

  • 8. See also Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002; 2010).

  • 9. Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No. 55 of 1949. An amendment in 1968 further prohibited marriages between South African men and foreign women of other races.

  • 10. Immorality Amendment Act, Act No. 21 of 1950.

  • 11. Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act, Act No. 72 of 1985.

  • 12. Immorality Amendment Act, Act No. 21 of 1950, Section 3.

  • 13. Population Registration Act, Act No. 30 of 1950.

  • 14. Group Areas Act, Act No. 41 of 1950, Section 2 (b) (ii).

  • 15. Laurine Platsky and Cherryl Walker, The Surplus People: Forced Removals in South Africa (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1985).

  • 16. As in the famous case of Sandra Laing in the 1960s: Judith Stone, When She Was White: The True Story of a Family Divided by Race (New York: Hyperion, 2007).

  • 17. Barbara B. Brown, “Facing the ‘Black Peril’: The Politics of Population Control in South Africa,” Journal of Southern African Studies 13.2 (1987): 256–273; Zine Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990: A Theoretical Re-interpretation,” in The Road to Democracy in South Africa, vol. 4, ed. South African Democracy Education Trust (Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2010), 975–1036, 1025–1026; and Susanne M. Klausen, Abortion under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

  • 18. Belinda Bozzoli, “Marxism, Feminism and South African Studies,” Journal of Southern African Studies 9.2 (April 1983): 139–171.

  • 19. Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act, Act of No. 67 of 1952.

  • 20. These were known as “Section Ten” rights, because the Native Laws Amendment Act modified Section Ten of the Natives (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act of 1945. See Native Laws Amendment Act, Act No. 54 of 1952, Section 27.

  • 21. Harold Wolpe, “Capitalism and Cheap Labour-Power in South Africa: From Segregation to Apartheid,” Economy and Society 1.4 (1972): 425–456; and T. Dunbar Moodie and Vivienne Ndatshe, Going for Gold: Men, Mines, and Migration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

  • 22. Bantu Authorities Act, Act No. 68 of 1951; Harold Jack Simons, African Women: Their Legal Status in South Africa (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968); and Hilda Bernstein, For Their Triumphs and Their Tears: Women in Apartheid South Africa (London: International Defense and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, 1985), 28–30.

  • 23. Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act, Act No. 46 of 1959.

  • 24. Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act, Act No. 26 of 1970.

  • 25. KwaZulu Act on the Code of Zulu Law, 1981, Section 16.

  • 26. Matrimonial Property Act, Act No. 88 of 1984.

  • 27. Bantu Education Act, Act No. 47 of 1953.

  • 28. Walker, Women and Resistance, 128.

  • 29. Thus the Orwellian name for the 1952 Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act: it sought to extend uniform laws about identity documents across the country.

  • 30. Julia C. Wells, We Now Demand! The History of Women’s Resistance to Pass Laws in South Africa (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1993); and Nomboniso Gasa, ‘‘Let Them Build More Gaols,’’ in Women in South African History, ed. Gasa (Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council Press, 2007), 129–152.

  • 31. Linzi Manicom, “Ruling Relations: Rethinking State and Gender in South African History,” Journal of African History 33.3 (1992): 441–465.

  • 32. Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act, Section 2.

  • 33. Walker, Women and Resistance, 126–130.

  • 34. Rebekah Lee, African Women and Apartheid: Migration and Settlement in Urban South Africa (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009).

  • 35. Zodwa from Cape Town, quoted in Mamphela Ramphele, A Bed Called Home: Life in the Migrant Labour Hostels of Cape Town (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1993), 18.

  • 36. Anne-Maria Makhulu, Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015).

  • 37. Abolition of Influx Control Act, Act No. 68 of 1986.

  • 38. Mark Hunter, Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2010), 84–102.

  • 39. Walker, Women and Resistance, 230–235.

  • 40. Belinda Bozzoli and Mmantho Nkotsoe, Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migration in South Africa, 1900–1983 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1991); and Luli Callinicos, “Testimonies and Transitions: Women Negotiating the Rural and Urban in the Mid-20th Century,” in Women in South African History, ed. Gasa, 153–184.

  • 41. Saleem Badat, The Forgotten People: Political Banishment under Apartheid (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013), 204–215.

  • 42. Iris Berger, Threads of Solidarity: Women in South African Industry, 1900–1980 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 153–169.

  • 43. Report of the First National Congress of Women, Held in the Trades Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 17th 1954,” Federation of South African Women Papers, Historical Papers, Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand, File AD1137-Ac1.6.2.

  • 44. Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990,” 1020.

  • 45. Jacklyn Cock, Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation (Johannesburg: Ravan, 1980).

  • 46. Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990,” 984–985.

  • 47. What Women Demand,” Federation of South African Women Papers, Historical Papers, Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand, File AD1137-Ea2-001.

  • 48. Mary Ingouville Burton, The Black Sash: Women for Justice and Peace (Auckland Park: Jacana, 2015). White women would later organize influentially as mothers fighting their sons’ forced conscription into the apartheid military: Jacklyn Cock, “‘Another Mother for Peace’: Women and Peace Building in South Africa, 1983–2003,” in Women in South African History, ed. Gasa, 257–280.

  • 49. Helen Joseph, Tomorrow’s Sun: A Smuggled Journal from South Africa (London: Hutchinson, 1966), 63–85. The multiracial delegation was captured in an iconic photograph by Jurgen Schadeberg.

  • 50. Shireen Hassim, The ANC Women’s League: Sex, Gender and Politics (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015), 29.

  • 51. Shireen Hassim, Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), 26–27; and Wells, We Now Demand! 117.

  • 52. Nomboniso Gasa, “Feminisms, Motherisms, Patriarchies and Women’s Voices in the 1950s,” in Women in South African History, ed. Gasa, 207–229.

  • 53. Walker, Women and Resistance, 260.

  • 54. Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990,” 999–1000.

  • 55. Hilda Bernstein, ed., The Rift: The Exile Experience of South Africans (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994); and Lauretta Ngcobo, ed., Prodigal Daughters: Stories of South African Women in Exile (Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2012).

  • 56. Hassim, Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa, 87.

  • 57. Kim Miller, “Moms with Guns: Political Agency in Anti-apartheid Visual Culture,” African Arts (Summer 2009): 68–75.

  • 58. Hassim, Women’s Organizations and Democracy, 90; Raymond Suttner, “Women in the ANC-Led Underground,” in Women in South African History, ed. Gasa, 233–255; and Rachel Sandwell, “‘Love I Cannot Begin to Explain’: The Politics of Reproduction in the ANC in Exile, 1976–1990,” Journal of Southern African Studies 41.1 (2015): 63–81.

  • 59. Anne Mager, Gender and the Making of a South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945–1959 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999); and Meghan Healy-Clancy, A World of Their Own: A History of South African Women’s Education (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014), 120–190.

  • 60. Shula Marks, Divided Sisterhood: Race, Class, and Gender in the South African Nursing Profession (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1994); Simonne Horwitz, Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto: A History of Medical Care, 1941–1990 (Wits University Press, 2013); and Ellen Kuzwayo, Call Me Woman (Johannesburg: Picador, 1985).

  • 61. Leslie Hadfield, Liberation and Development: Black Consciousness Community Programs in South Africa (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2016).

  • 62. Mamphela Ramphele, Across Boundaries: The Journey of a South African Woman Leader (New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1996).

  • 63. Hassim, Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa, 61.

  • 64. Hassim, Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa, 58.

  • 65. Healy-Clancy, A World of Their Own.

  • 66. Bozzoli, “Marxism, Feminism and South African Studies.” This was developed further in Women of Phokeng.

  • 67. Cock, Maids and Madams; Berger, Threads of Solidarity; Marks, Divided Sisterhood; and Moodie and Ndatshe, Going for Gold.

  • 68. Wells, We Now Demand!

  • 69. Gasa, “Feminism, Motherisms, Patriarchies,” 214.

  • 70. Cherryl Walker, “Conceptualising Motherhood in Twentieth Century South Africa,” Journal of Southern African Studies 21.3 (September 1995): 417–437; Judith Stevenson, “‘The Mamas Were Ripe’: Ideologies of Motherhood and Resistance in a South African Township,” Feminist Formations 23.2 (2011): 132–163; Healy-Clancy, “Women and the Problem of Family”; Arianna Lissoni and Maria Suriano, “Married to the ANC: Tanzanian Women’s Entanglement in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle,” Journal of Southern African Studies 40.1 (2014): 129–150; and Sandwell, “‘Love I Cannot Begin to Explain.’”

  • 71. Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990,” 979–1004.

  • 72. Magubane, “Attitudes Towards Feminism among Women in the ANC, 1950–1990,” 1009–1036.

  • 73. Mark Hunter, Love in the Time of AIDS.

  • 74. Including Joseph, Tomorrow’s Sun; Kuzwayo, Call Me Woman; Ramphele, Across Boundaries; Emma Mashinini, Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life (New York: Routledge, 1991); and Winnie Mandela, 91 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013).

  • 75. Bernstein, ed., The Rift; Ngcobo, ed., Prodigal Daughters.

  • 76. See, for instance, Nadine Gordimer, Living in Hope and History (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999).

  • 77. Shula Marks, Not Either an Experimental Doll: The Separate Worlds of Three South African Women (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).