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Women's representation in the South African national defence force: a case study of the Limpopo province, South Africa

The aim of this study was to explore women representation in the South African National Defence Forces in the Limpopo Province. The Liberal Feminist perspective was employed as the prism through which the objectives of the study were achieved. In that regard, it was established that Sociology offers a distinctive way of seeing and explaining the social world within which we live in, as well as the events and institutions that shape it. Having noted the contribution and participation of women in the defence forces across the globe, the Liberal Feminists' argument is that women have performed well, when under military necessity but still face persistent discrimination including the dismissal after war.  The study employed a qualitative method and an exploratory design and data were collected through six in-depth interviews and one focus group discussion female military officers in different military ranks and analysed through Thematic Content Analysis.

The study found that there are efforts that have been put in place to address issues pertaining to woman representation advocacy. The study also revealed that there are fewer women in the SANDF compared to men and some of the reasons posed include patriarchy and the command element that exist in the military. The study also found that there are also challenges and opportunities associated with women representation in the SANDF. Nevertheless, based on the findings of the study, the researcher developed a conceptual model for women representation in the SANDF.

The study concludes that the dynamics around women representation, which includes the consequence of low representation of women; the dominance of men in the institution; the prevalence of patriarchy; and the incidence of institutional culture, are of paramount importance in understanding the challenges that women face in the military. Moreover, the study proposed areas for future research that emphasized the need to measure the impact of the influence of women compared to that of men. The study concluded by providing recommendations such as the need for the SANDF to embark on outreaches, the importance of information and provision of capacity building to the SANDF by the government.

Full Name
Dr Knightingale Lulu Mmakola