Project Description

Parliament Watch, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute

The Women and Democracy Initiative takes an intersectional feminist approach to strengthening deliberative democracy in South Africa. The WDI focusses on the realisation of the range of gender and women’s rights, including citizenship and participation rights.

Womxn, Gender and Elections


This project seeks to increase a political focus on realising women’s and gender rights through infusing systematic feminist analysis and strategy into questions of governance and leadership. Elements of the project include setting a feminist agenda for political party manifestos and government, and holding political parties to account against this; increasing feminist analysis of various aspects of election processes; increasing public knowledge for informed political engagement through elections and other mechanisms of participatory democracy; and increasing collective civil society advocacy for responsiveness from political parties to a feminist agenda for women’s rights, LGBTI rights and gender justice throughout national and local election cycles starting in 2019 and working forward to 2021 and 2024 elections, observing key political moments in between elections.

In the build-up to 2019 Elections, the Women and Democracy Initiative considered the three top performing political parties in the last national election – the ANC, the DA, and the EFF as well as Women Forward (WF), a small women-led party that is contesting the elections for the second time on the basis of a women’s agenda.

Using a feminist framework, together with other key social justice issues through a feminist intersectional lens, the Institute considered if the manifestos and track records translate in practical ways for ordinary people, womxn and non-binary people in particular.

The project aimed to take the questions beyond only what the parties are saying on issues commonly defined as gendered or ‘women’s issues’ such as gender based violence and womxn’s representation further, into questions of how parties have addressed a gendered or womxn’s agenda throughout their manifestos from their plans to address unemployment, wages, land and home ownership, social security, education from ECD through to higher education, and health.

Download the reports and analysis here.