Coalitions for women's rights

Women's rights groups in developing countries have been grappling with the question of how to 'work politically' to win significant reform battles and bring about vital institutional change. DLP-commissioned studies identify lessons from the successes and setbacks of coalitions for women's rights. 

In South Africa, in the early years of the democratic transition, the National Working Group on Sexual Offences (NWGSO) was established to influence the progressive reform of the country's rape laws. It became the largest civil society coalition to have collaborated on legal reform in South Africa. In contrast, a study of women's coalitions in Egypt and Jordan between 2000 and 2010 explores their struggles in countries characterised by authoritarian rule and powerful faith-led movements opposed to structural transformation of gender hierarchies.

These and other DLP studies show that ‘backstage politics’ can be as influential as formal channels of engagement. Informal channels can be particularly useful when closed policy environments undermine the potential of collective action to influence change.

Forthcoming research (by Dr Lucy Ferguson) focuses on Mexico, particularly on the emergence of a strong coalition for gender equality in the tourism sector.

Researchers: Lucy Ferguson, Rebecca Hodes (University of Cape Town), Orly Stern, Mariz Tadros (Institute of Development Studies), and Jenniger Thorpe (Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust),