Women’s Attitudes toward Gender Equality and Culture: The Influence of Urbanisation and Education

Williams, Tristanne Jade (2021-03-05)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research investigates gender equality. Gender equality is a globally pressing problem and it is put under pressure by a number of factors. This study will highlight how culture challenges principles of gender equality. The debate regarding culture and gender equality is centred on women‟s rights. While multiculturalism is encouraged by a range of scholars, it has also come under scrutiny because of the perception that some cultural practices infringe on the rights of women and girl children. However, understanding multiculturalism in post-colonial societies is more complex. African customary law plays an important role in the lives of black South Africans, yet, it cannot be ignored that some cultural traditions undermine gender equality. Resolving multicultural conflict is difficult in a country like South Africa, where legal pluralism exists, and where customary law is made subordinate to the Constitution that equally protects gender equality and the right to culture. In their investigation of the rising tide of gender equality and culture, Inglehart and Norris (2003) conclude that glacial shifts are occurring in post-industrial democracies which see a move away from traditional values towards more secular-rational and emancipative values. As South Africa is continuously modernising and industrialising, this study sought to highlight the effects thereof on attitudes. This study seeks to explore women‟s attitudes toward gender equality and culture based on their urban-rural locality and level of education in South Africa. This study hypothesises that urban women are more likely to demonstrate support for gender equality while rural women who are embedded in traditional contexts will show greater support for cultural traditions. Furthermore, this study also hypothesises that women with higher levels of education, who have come to embrace individualistic and emancipative values therefore will show higher levels of support for gender equality. Overall, the data revealed that culture is important to an overwhelming majority of South African women. This is attributed to the colonial and Apartheid history which have reinforced culture and tradition. However, urbanisation and level of education significantly influences women‟s attitudes toward gender equality. It was concluded that rural women who have deep traditional roots tend to be more sympathetic toward cultural practices even though it sometimes conflicts with principles of gender equality, while urban women are less tolerant of cultural traditions which undermine women‟s rights. However, for urbanisation it is important to consider the notion of hybridity as the data revealed that women tend to live hybrid lives, as rural and urban women supported gender equality and cultural traditions to some extent. Furthermore, education proved to have a strong influence on women‟s attitudes. The data revealed that better educated women challenge gender stereotypes and are also less accepting of cultural traditions which do not treat men and women as equal, while less educated women are more tolerant of cultural practices which conflict with women‟s rights. Therefore, urbanisation and education significantly influences women‟s attitudes towards gender equality and culture which may influence policy in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing ondersoek geslagsgelykheid. Gebrek aan geslagsgelykheid is wêreldwyd 'n probleem. Dit word onder druk gesit deur verskeie faktore. Hierdie studie toon hoe kultuur beginsels van geslagsgelykheid uitdaag. Die debat rakende kultuur en geslagsgelykheid het hoofsaaklik te doen met vroueregte. Alhoewel multikulturalisme deur baie aangemoedig word, word dit ook deur baie gekritiseer. Dit is omdat die waardes van sommige kulture inbraak maak op die regte van vroue en dogters. Om multikulturalisme in post-koloniale lande te verstaan is egter kompleks. In Afrika speel gewoontereg 'n belangrike rol in die lewens van swart Suid Afrikaners, maar dit kan nie geignoreer word dat party kulturele tradisies die beginsels van geslagsgelykheid ondermyn nie. Om multikulturele konflik in 'n land soos Suid-Afrika op te los is moeilik omdat daar regspluralisme is en waar, die Grondwet beide geslagsgelykheid en die reg tot kultuur beskerm. In hulle ondersoek na die geslagsgelykheid en kultuur vind Inglehart en Norris (2003) dat daar tans verskuiwings in post-industriële demokrasieë plaasvind. Dus is daar 'n beweging weg van tradisionele waardes na meer sekulêr-rasionele waardes toe. Gesien in die lig daarvan dat Suid-Afrika moderniseer en industrialiseer wil hierdie studie graag die effekte daarvan op houdings en persepies uitwys. Omdat, vroueregte sentraal staan in die kultuur/regte debat, ondersoek hierdie studie spesifiek die houding van vroue teenoor geslagsgelykheid en kultuur in Suid-Afrika, op grond van hul stedelike-landelike ligging en vlakke van onderrig. Die hipoteses van hierdie studie is dat stedelike vroue meer onderstening vir geslagsgelykheid sal bied, terwyl, plattelandse vroue wat in „n meer tradisionele konteks ingebed is groter ondersteuning van kulturele waardes en tradisies sal toon. Nog 'n belangrike hipotese in hierdie studie is dat, vroue met hoër onderrigvlakke meer progressiewe waardes sal hê en dus sal hulle die belangrikheid van geslagsgelykhied beklemtoon, eerder as om kulturele tradisies wat die regte van vroue oortree te aanvaar. Die data wys dat kultuur belangrik is vir 'n groot meerderheid van Suid-Afrikaanse vroue. Dit word toegeskryf aan die koloniale en Apartheid geskiedenis wat kultuur en tradisie versterk het. Maar verstedeliking en onderrigvlakke het 'n sterk invloed op vroue se houdings teenoor geslagsgelykheid en kultuur. Daar is tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat plattelandse vroue inderdaad diep tradisionele wortels het en dus is hulle geneig om kulturele tradisies te aanvaar, alhoewel dit partykeer in konflik is met die beginsels van geslagsgelykheid. In kontras, was stedelike vroue minder verdraagsaam teenoor kulturele tradisies wat vroueregte oortree. Vir verstedeliking is dit belangrik om die konsep van hibriditeit in ag te neem omdat Stellenbosch die data wys dat plattelandse en stedelike vroue kulturele tradisies en geslagsgelykheid tot 'n sekere mate ondersteun. Verder het opvoedingsvlakke 'n groot impak op vroue se houdings gehad. Die data beklemtoon dat vroue met hoër vlakke van onderrig geslagstereotipes uitdaag en ook minder verdraagsaam is teenoor kulturele tradisies wat mans en vroue nie as gelyk beskou nie. Vroue met laer vlakke van onderrig toon meer ondersteuning vir kulturele tradisies, alhoewel dit in konflik is met vroueregte. Dus het verstedeliking en opvoeding 'n groot invloed op vroue se houdings teenoor geslagsgelykheid en kultuur. Dit is belangrik om in ag te neem omdat dit beleidsinvloed in Suid-Afrika kan he.

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