Contributors are invited to submit manuscripts on the above topic from the point of view either of researchers or activists. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to Lou Haysom: or


No later than 28 September 2020


Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 30 years and raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agenda journal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer reviewed journal.

GUEST EDITORS: Amanda Gouws (SARChI Chair in Gender Politics) and Diana Hojlund Madsen (Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden)

Conceptual Rationale:

It has been 25 years since thousands of women came together at the UN Women’s Decade Conference in Beijing, China. It was the Fourth UN Conference of this nature with the first one being held in Mexico in 1975 and the second one in Copenhagen in 1980 and the third in Kenya in 1985. These conferences had been very important for setting agenda’s for gender equality and gender justice through their platforms of action. The involvement of the United Nations (UN) in co-ordinating these conferences on an international level has been significant.

Since 1995 countries have had to report back to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) every 5 years on achievements in implementing gender equality initiatives in relation to the Beijing Platform of Action. This platform includes the following 12 critical areas for action:

⦁ Women and Poverty
⦁ Education and Training for Women
⦁ Women and Health
⦁ Violence against Women
⦁ Women and Armed Conflict
⦁ Women and the Economy
⦁ Women in Power and Decision Making
⦁ Institutional Mechanisms
⦁ Human Rights of Women
⦁ Women and the Media
⦁ Women and the Environment
⦁ The Girl Child

The country report back at the CSW in 2020 was halted by the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic and only a one day procedural meeting was held on 9 March 2020. The declaration that followed this meeting takes stock of the status of women and assesses current challenges to gender equality and women’s empowerment. It recognizes new challenges alongside long-standing ones. These include: the right to education, including in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); women’s leadership at all levels of society; access to equal pay and addressing unpaid care and domestic work; disproportionate effects of climate change and natural disasters on women and girls; violence and harmful practices against women and girls, protection in armed conflict, the right to health, and addressing hunger and malnutrition.

The African regional review is particularly important as it coincides with the reviews of Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development +5 (ICPD+25) as well as Agenda 2030 +5 reviews. The three reviews provide a comprehensive picture of progress made in advancing gender equality broadly and particularly in the population and development arena. The Beijing Platform of Action is also very important in relation to making progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The South African government also wrote a comprehensive report that can be accessed at–Abrideged-.pdf
Very often, however, women’s organizations in civil society write their own shadow reports to indicate difference or contradictions with the official country reports. In South Africa the NGO, IlithaLabantu, for example, held a Civil Society Consultative Forum in February 2020 to consult with civil society organizations.

The COVID 19 pandemic has starkly revealed how global inequalities put the burden of care and social reproduction on women as a consequence of deficient health care systems, poverty, food insecurity and a lack of political leadership and the pandemic may have far reaching consequences for progress on gender equality.

In order to celebrate Beijing +25 there is a need to assess progress that has been made in the last five years/ 25 years, but also since the first UN conference in 1975, spanning a 45 year period. Has gender equality increased/improved? Has women’s empowerment through policies that originated from the UN such as gender mainstreaming contributed to make government policies more gender friendly? Have governments developed and implemented legislation to address the 12 critical areas? Have gender machineries been put in place and what are their achievements?

With this special issue of Agenda on Beijing +25 we call on authors to reflect on the following:

⦁ Progress on the 12 critical areas (different ones can be singled out)
⦁ Gender Mainstreaming as a policy (successes and failures)
⦁ Progress with the creation of gender equality and gender justice through development projects
⦁ The role of the UN as an international organization driving the gender equality process through the Beijing Platform of Action (successes and failures, is it the right organization to drive the process)
⦁ Report backs to the CSW (a serious process or a tea party)
⦁ Implementation, successes and failures of gender machineries
⦁ Comparisons of official country reports and civil society shadow reports
⦁ Transnational co-operation and activism around critical areas
⦁ An Africa regional oversight of achievements and failure
⦁ Assessments whether the Beijing Platform of Action is furthering a feminist agenda
⦁ The fault lines regarding gender equality exposed by the global COVID pandemic (please note that this is not an issue about the pandemic but the pandemic in relation to the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform of Action).

Submission Guidelines for Agenda Journal

The following guidelines are intended to assist authors in preparing their contributions.


Agenda invites contributions from feminist and gender scholars, activists, researchers, policy makers, professionals, educators, community workers, students and members of womxn’s organizations and organizations interested in and concerned with gender issues.

Submissions should contribute to developing new thinking and fresh debate on women’s rights and gender equality in Africa and other developing countries.

Writers need to:

  • Write in an accessible and understandable style;
  • Inform, educate or raise debate;
  • Try to pin down reasons for contradictions and point out differences of opinion;
  • Provide an analysis and an argument;
  • Be logical;
  • Be sensitive to but not uncritical of how gender, class and race affect the reporting of an event;
  • Ensure the introduction encapsulates the contents of the piece and that it attracts the reader’s attention by either making a controversial statement, providing a thought-provoking or new insight into the subject;
  • Utilise a gender or feminist lens.

Formats of Contributions

We publish articles in various formats, which range from 6,000 words for more theorised articles, which form the main reference pieces in an issue, to shorter pieces with a minimum of 1,500 words.

Article (6 000 words max). This should be based on new research and contain analysis and argument.

Briefing  (2 500 – 4 000 words). This is an adaptable format for updates and reflection on a wide range of subjects

Focus (4 500 words max). Focus pieces examine an aspect of a chosen theme in detail

Profile (2 500 – 3 500 words). Profiles look in detail at an organisation, project or legislation, or a person

Report-back (1 500 – 4 000 words). Reports on meetings, conferences workshops etc.

Review (1 500 – 3 000 words). These are typically reviews of books or films

Interview (1 500 – 3 000 words). An interview can be a record of a conversation among a group of people or a one-on-one interview in which the writer asks the interviewee/s questions on a subject

Open Forum (2 500 – 4 000 words). This is a vehicle for debate and argument, airing differences of opinion on a relevant topic

Perspective (1 500 – 3 000 words). This is an adaptable format in which writers are able to use a more personal reflective, narrative style

Poetry. Original work on the theme, in any style, will be considered

Art. Images of original work on the theme in any media will be considered, for publication in black and white.


Written contributions should be submitted in the following format:

File type:             Microsoft Word

Font:                      Arial

Size:                       10 pt

Line spacing:      single

Alignment:          left

Referencing:      Harvard style

All written submissions should include the following:

Abstract:              200 – 300 words (except poetry)

Keywords:          approx 5 keywords (except poetry)

Bio:                        100 – word author biography, including email address

Bio picture:         head-and-shoulders photo in 300 dpi jpeg format

Contributors are encouraged to provide photos and/or graphics to illustrate their submission

Selection and Editing Process

All submissions are peer reviewed. Articles, briefing and focus pieces go through a double blind peer review process, while all other contributions are reviewed by at least one member of Agenda’s Editorial Advisory Group.

Reviewers comment on the suitability of a text for publication in the Agenda journal, as well as provide comments to help develop the piece further for publication if required. Contributors may be asked to rework the paper accordingly. In this case, upon resubmission, the piece will be assessed by the Agenda editors and a final decision made regarding its publication in the journal.

Please note that Agenda reserves the right to edit contributions with regard to length and accessibility or reject contributions that are not suitable or of poor standard.

Please note, as per Agenda’s policy of creating opportunities for new writers, submissions by writers who have published in the journal within the last two years WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.


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