Political Resistance and Citizenship Agency: Exploring the Experiences of Black African Zimbabwean and South African Women

Keywords: resistance, citizenship, Black African women, Zimbabwe, South Africa


This article addresses how marginalised black African women in South Africa and Zimbabwe understand themselves as citizens, express agency and practise political resistance. Little research has been done on this topic in Southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe, making this study particularly relevant. Literature relating to citizenship, agency and the political resistance of women in non-Western society is also discussed. Focus is placed on a case study analysis of women who live in Zimbabwean and South African townships and who self-identify as members of the Ndebele and Zulu ethnic groups respectively. In-depth interviews, which consisted of closed and open-ended questions, were conducted with these women, and each participant also completed a form requiring them to provide socio-demographic information. Content and relational analysis was used to analyse the responses of the participants. The results indicated that these black African women participated politically in invented spaces that typically exist outside of the public political sphere. The women use everyday resistance strategies to negotiate their relationship with the state. These resistance strategies were found to be framed in terms of the women’s daily economic struggles and the structural challenges they faced.

Author Biographies

Belinda Maswikwa, Stellenbosch University

Department of Political Science

Amanda Gouws, Stellenbosch University

SARChl Chair in Gender Politics

Department of Political Science

Sarah Frances Gordon, Stellenbosch University

Sarah Frances Gordon, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow in the field of gender and politics in the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Cape Town. Her primary research interests include: gender, politics, identity, violence against women, HIV/AIDS and other critical social issues. She has several years of community work and social activism experience in the field of trauma and violence against women. 


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How to Cite
Maswikwa, Belinda, Amanda Gouws, and Sarah Frances Gordon. 2019. “Political Resistance and Citizenship Agency: Exploring the Experiences of Black African Zimbabwean and South African Women”. Politeia 38 (1), 22 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6689/3178.