Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Marybeth Gasman

Abstract

This dissertation is structured as a critical policy analysis employing historical methods. It examines how the post apartheid government's economic growth and development polices have informed the higher education system and how this has changed women's financial, occupational, political, social, and educational prospects in South Africa. Through the telling of this history, the paper provides understanding of the relationship between economic growth and development, higher education, and women within the social, cultural, and political context of the country from 1994 to the present.

This is also a story about the lives of South African women. It examines how South Africa's patriarchal culture, the apartheid system, and the 1996 constitution and other government gender specific initiatives have influenced the lives of women, especially Black South African women. What this study does is to bring understanding as to why, despite one of the world's best written and designed policy frameworks for women's empowerment and gender equality and a constitution based on non-sexism, a significant number of women continue to live in poverty, have higher incidences of HIV/AIDS, are increasingly victims of rape and violence, and continue to experience low graduation rates. By recognizing and understanding why women continue to face significant challenges, thirteen years after the establishment of a national framework for women's empowerment and gender equality, we can chip away at the poverty, low graduation rates, and violence that are still pervasive in South Africa.

This study did not attempt to find the answers or solutions to the pressing economic, education, and gender issues facing South Africa today. The primary focus is on understanding the relationship between economic growth and development and higher education policies and how they have changed women's prospects. Although race is often the lens used when examining the country's past and current opportunities and challenges, this study takes a different perspective and looks at the country through the framework of gender.

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