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Towards a gender analysis of women and development : a case study of the gender division of labour in a rural black community in South Africa

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  • Hm Sociology
  • Design


This thesis examines the topic of the position of women in rural development. This topic has become the focus of extensive international debate at theoretical and policy levels, but for historical reasons remains relatively undeveloped in South Africa. After reviewing a number of contemporary approaches, the thesis argues in favour of the "Gender and Development" approach, and applies this to a case study of the gender division of labour in a rural black community in South Africa. Chapter one reviews the variants of the "Women in Development" (WID) approaches, as well as the claims of "Global Feminism". It is argued that, although Global Feminism began as a critique of WID approaches, it is in fact similar in many respects to the contemporary "empowerment" focus within the WID tradition. Although useful, these approaches are not sufficiently explicit in their theorizing of gender relations in the context of development. Chapter 2 sets out the key elements of the "Gender and Development" approach, which emphasises the complexity of the issue of women's interests, and warns against assuming a commonality of interests amongst all women. Instead, the GAD approach demands a detailed investigation of socially constructed gender relations in specific communities, with a special focus on the gender division of labour. For GAD theorists such analysis is a requirement of development planning which seeks to advance the position of women. Chapter 3 spells out the methodological implications of the GAD approach, and develops a specific research design, influenced by GAD as well as feminist methodology, for the investigation of the gender-specific needs of women in Merino Walk, a rural black community. Chapter 4 presents a brief overview of the general context of rural women in Southern Africa, and a specific history of the Merino Walk community. Chapter 5 presents the results of the research. In the context of this thesis, the results are presented essentially as an illustration of the application of the GAD principles to a specific South African example. The conclusion draws out some of the issues which emerge from the research.

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