The forgotten ones: A case study of the obstacles that prevent meaningful participation in democratic governance of farm women in the greater Stellenbosch Area, Ceres & Rawsonville

Saal, Querida Shahida (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research examines the extent of participatory democracy, as outlined in government policy, with particular relevance to the experiences of women living on farms in the Greater Stellenbosch Area, Ceres and Rawsonville. The study is based on the notion that effective and meaningful political participation in South Africa has happened at the exclusion of many of its poor and marginalised citizens, in particular poor women living on farms. The research hypothesis holds that various factors relating to the socioeconomic conditions and political orientations of farm women contribute to their low levels of participation in democratic governance. The research question therefore is: what are the obstacles that prevent women living on farms in the Greater Stellenbosch Area, Ceres and Rawsonville from effective and meaningful participation in participatory democracy? In answering the research question, mixed methods of data gathering were employed. Qualitative methods were used, with data-gathering techniques that included modified participant observation, non-scheduled structured interviews, and a focus group discussion. As relatively little is known of the experiences of farm women, these techniques were all geared towards better informing the researcher about relevant questions for the quantitative component of the research in the form of a survey. From the findings, the hypothesis that farm women do not participate in a meaningful process of participation was confirmed. The main findings in terms of the obstacles that prevent meaningful participation can be discussed in three categories. Firstly, the research indicates that farm women feel that since their opinions are not considered by politicians there is no reason for them to participate in governance. Secondly, because of a lack of capacity and resources critical for optimal participation, the women are also disempowered to not participate in politics. Finally, farm women are tired of empty promises and the abuse of power by corrupt officials. Hence they have become very cynical of processes that are supposed to be participatory, but in effect are not authentic at all. In conclusion, although participation is advanced on the basis of the principle of enhancing democracy, the lived realities of farm women cannot be ignored. Therefore, it is vital that participation in politics be seen from a holistic perspective, relying on both democratic principles and the socioeconomic development of farm women. Through political iii participation, farm women must be empowered to become not only democratic citizens, as envisioned by theorists of participatory democracy, but also capacitated people who live a dignified life.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsingsprojek bestudeer die omvang van deelnemende demokrasie, soos uiteengesit in regeringsbeleid, spesifiek met betrekking tot die ervaringe van vroue wat op plase in die Groter Stellenbosch Area, Ceres en Rawsonville woon. Die studie is gebaseer op die argument dat effektiewe en betekenisvolle politieke deelname in Suid Afrika die meerderheid arm en gemarginaliseerde burgers, en spesifiek arm vroue op plase, uitsluit. Die navorsingshipotese is dat verskeie faktore wat verband hou met die sosioekonomiese omstandighede en politieke oriëntasies van plaasvroue bydra tot hulle lae vlakke van politieke deelname. Vervolgens is die navorsingsvraag: Wat is die faktore wat vroue op plase in die Groter Stellenbosch Area, Ceres en Rawsonville daarvan weerhou om effektief en betekenisvol deel te neem aan die politiek? Gemengde metodes van data-insameling is gebruik om die navorsingsvraag te beantwoord. Kwalitatiewe data-insamelingstegnieke sluit in aangepaste deelnemende observasie, niegeskeduleerde gestruktureerde onderhoude en ʼn fokusgroepbespreking. Aangesien relatief min inligting oor plaasvroue bestaan, is die doel met die tegnieke om die navorser beter in te lig om vrae vir die kwantitatiewe komponent, ʼn opname, te skep. Deur die bevindinge is die hipotese dat plaasvroue nie gereeld aan effektiewe en betekenisvolle deelnemende prosesse deelneem nie bevestig. Wat die faktore wat deelname beïnvloed betref, is daar drie verskillende temas. Eerstens dui die navorsing daarop dat plaasvroue voel dat aangesien hulle opinies nie deur politici in ag geneem word nie, daar geen rede vir hulle is om aan die politiek deel te neem nie. Tweedens is plaasvroue as gevolg van ‘n gebrek aan die kapasiteit en hulpbronne noodsaaklik vir optimale deelname ook geneig om minder aan die politiek deel te neem. Laastens is die vroue moeg van leë beloftes en die misbruik van mag deur korrupte amptenare. Gevolglik is hul nou meer sinies, spesifiek oor prosesse wat veronderstel is om deelnemend te wees maar in werklikheid glad nie is nie. Ten slotte, alhoewel deelname aan die politiek bevorder word op grond van die beginsel dat dit demokrasie verbeter, kan die lewensomstandighede van plaasvroue nie geïgnoreer word nie. Hiervolgens is dit noodsaaklik dat deelname in die politiek vanuit ‘n holistiese oogpunt beskou word, gegrond op beide demokratiese beginsels en die sosio-ekonomiese ontwikkeling van plaasvroue. Deur politieke deelname moet plaasvroue bemagtig word om nie net demokratiese burgers te word nie, maar ook gekapasiteerde mense wat n waardige lewe lei.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4189
This item appears in the following collections: