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    Gender, Traditional Authority, and the Politics of Rural Reform in South Africa

    Gilmartin, Mary (2002) Gender, Traditional Authority, and the Politics of Rural Reform in South Africa. Development and Change, 33 (4). pp. 633-658. ISSN 0012-155X

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    The new South African Constitution, together with later policies and legislation, affirm a commitment to gender rights that is incompatible with the formal recognition afforded to unelected traditional authorities. This contradiction is particularly evident in the case of land reform in many rural areas, where women’s right of access to land is denied through the practice of customary law. This article illustrates the ways in which these constitutional contra- dictions play out with particular intensity in the ‘former homelands’ through the example of a conflict over land use in Buffelspruit, Mpumalanga province. There, a number of women who had been granted informal access to communal land for the purposes of subsistence cultivation had their rights revoked by the traditional authority. Despite desperate protests, they continue to be marginalized in terms of access to land, while their male counterparts appropriate communal land for commercial farming and cattle grazing. Drawing on this protest, we argue that current South African practice in relation to the pressing issue of gender equity in land reform represents a politics of accommodation and evasion that tends to reinforce gender biases in rural development, and in so doing, undermines the prospects for genuinely radical transformation of the instituted geographies and institutionalized practices bequeathed by the apartheid regime

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Gender; Traditional Authority; Politics; of Rural Reform; South Africa;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 8826
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Mary Gilmartin
    Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2017 14:26
    Journal or Publication Title: Development and Change
    Publisher: Wiley
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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