22 August 2009

ANC Women’s League

[CU for Monday 24 August 2009]

“…a matter of central importance – the relationship between the FSAW and ANC; the relationship between the women’s movement and the senior partner in the national liberation movement...

“Their main fear was that, if the FSAW were constituted on the basis of an individual membership, it would compete against the ANCWL to the detriment of the latter. In taking this position, the ANC revealed a degree of ambivalence towards the FSAW that it would never entirely overcome.”

With these words of Cheryl Walker’s, we left the matter of the Federation of South African Women (FSAW or FEDSAW). Today we come up-to-date with the ANC Women’s League. The Short History of the ANCWL on its web site recalls the formation of FEDSAW as the major turning point for the League:

“Organisationally, the Federation of South African Women, formed in 1954 as an umbrella body, helped the ANCWL's activities to spread. It was the first indication that the ANCWL wanted to be involved in improving the lot of women nationally, and not only within their own organisation. Federation brought together from the ANCWL, Coloured People's Organisation, Transvaal and Natal Indian Congress of Democrats.

“The impact of women's activities led the male leadership to recognise the potential of the women's struggle.Thus started the integration of women into ANC structures. In 1956 ANCWL President Lilian Ngoyi was elected the first women to join the ANC NEC.”

[Lilian Ngoyi was President both of the League, and of the Federation, at that time.]

See the document linked below for more of this history, and for relevant points from the current (2003) ANCWL constitution. Here are some of them:

  • The Women's League is based on the policies and principles of the African National Congress.
  • [Members must] Combat propaganda detrimental to the interests of the ANC and defend the policy and programmes of the ANCWL and the ANC;
  • The Women's League is an integral part of the African National Congress and is part of its mobilising machinery.
  • The ANCWL shall receive an annual budget, together with the supplementary grants for specific projects and tasks from the office of the Treasurer General of the ANC.

Tomorrow we will look at the Progressive Women’s Movement (PWM) and ask: Is the PWM supposed to be a subsidiary, or junior partner, of the ANCWL, and therefore of the ANC? Or is it a wider movement, open to all women, of which the ANCWL is only one part? To what extent have the problems and tensions of the FEDSAW period been solved, or have they not been solved? To what extent have those problems re-appeared?

Click on this link:

ANCWL Short History, and points from 2003 ANCWL Constitution (1396 words)


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