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Politics of women’s participation and entrenched inequalities in land reform at Hammarsdale, Emophela.

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The post-Apartheid South African government inherited a skewed and bias land discourse, which resulted from the history of land dispossession during Apartheid. The government has since tried to address the land issue through various land reform programmes. Land plays an important role in the lives of African people and contributes immensely to their livelihood. The slow pace of the land reform programme in South Africa has created policy gaps, which has impacted the level of agitation against land inequality in South Africa. Rural women have been on the receiving end of these inequalities, which has resulted in the lack of land rights to access and own land. This is due to the ineffective gender construction in land allocation under traditional authorities. This study examined the politics of women's participation and entrenched land reform inequalities at Emophela. The study adopted a qualitative research approach where data was collected from 20 women participants from Emophela, one representative of the traditional council, one representative of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and one representative from the eThekwini Municipality. The sample was obtained using purposive sampling and semi-structured in-depth interviews with open-ended questions. The interviews were conducted and recorded, and the data were analysed using Nvivo. The research adopted a participatory democratic theory and African Feminism (Nego-Feminism) theory. Based on the focus groups and the interviews conducted, the study found compelling evidence of discrimination experienced by women at Emophela regarding access to land. The entrenched inequalities faced by women on land-related issues affect their level of participation and willingness to participate. Gender-related discrimination is more prevalent in land allocation under the traditional council, sustained by culture and patriarchy. The study found that the women of Emophela are subleasing/ tenants and lack land ownership. Furthermore, women’s land ownership at Emophela is urgent, which places responsibility on the South African government and the Traditional Councils to initiate women's education on land rights in rural areas and provide programs that promote women's land ownership. Women need to own land because it contributes to their social and economic empowerment and places them in a better position to address poverty issues.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.