"Thinking of Women's League as a space for gender activism is a waste of time"

While the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) has denied that its president referred to women as being “too emotional” during debates, the role of the organisation in gender politics has often been questioned.

The Sunday Times reported that Bathabile Dlamini justified the inclusion of men in the league’s delegation by saying the males are there to bolster capacity at the ANC’s policy conference.

She was quoted as saying: "The six men are a resource because sometimes we lose debates because we are emotional so now we want experts to argue,"

Eusebius McKaiser spoke to Prof. Shireen Haseem, the author of The ANC Women’s League: Sex, Politics and Gender, to get her view on the statement and general overview of the organisation.

She is really playing on that patriarchal trope in a very obvious way.

Prof. Shireen Haseem, author

This is the problem with the ANC Women's League, their failure to really develop their own analytical, critical capacity, they have not invested in it, they have no ideas, they have no alternative so I am not surprised that when push comes to shove they go out looking for some rent a crowd analyst....

Prof. Shireen Haseem, author

It's never had a strong position on dismantling patriarchy. It comes out of a tradition of a kind of nationalist, maternalist politics which had its moment, but it had always a complicated relationship with feminists within the ANC.

Prof. Shireen Haseem, author

Read more: 'It's unacceptable for men to represent us', says ANCWL member

We should not waste our time, thinking of the Women's League as a space for gender activism and that we should be foregrounding the voices of a whole range of women, but now there is a young constituency of really smart young women who are taking on patriarchy in a range of spaces.

Prof. Shireen Haseem, author

Click on the link below to listen to the full audio...

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