Contributors are invited to write on the topic above from either a research or an activism perspective. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience.  Please submit abstracts to / or


Deadline extended to February 28, 2019


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:   Dorrit Posel and Daniela Casale

Conceptual Rationale:

Feminist economics: What progress in South Africa’s 25 years of democracy?

Feminist economics is a relatively new area of study within the broad field of economics. Although important feminist critiques of economic theory and policy were published in the 1970s and 1980s, feminist economics as a discipline really came into its own in the early 1990s with the establishment of the International Association for Feminist Economics and its flagship journal Feminist Economics.    

A key feature of feminist economics is its recognition of the important work that is done beyond the market or the paid economy, in the unpaid economy, and the implications this has for economic decisions and outcomes. Feminist economics lifts the veil on the ‘black box’ of the household and the non-market dimensions of economic life, broadening the scope of economics to recognise that caring labour and work undertaken in the home are integral to the functioning of the paid economy(even if these activities are not captured in estimates of economic output or GDP). The home is where children are raised and where labour power is replenished. Without the work of social reproduction, there could be no paid economy. Feminist economics challenges the traditional economics assumption that non-market human relationships are governed solely by altruism; it recognises the roles that self-interest and power may play in decision-making and resource allocation; and it considers the nature and consequences of power in the household.[1]

An important distinction drawn in feminist economics is that between the biology or sex of men and women and their ‘gender’, which refers to the social construction of norms, roles and expectations of men and women. For example, throughout the world, the provision of caring labour and household work continues to be gendered, with women responsible for performing the bulk of this work even though an increasing share of women also participates in the paid economy. Studies in the feminist economics tradition explore and question the implications of this responsibility for women and men, in terms of differences in their access to employment, the nature of and returns to their employment, their ability to negotiate and implement decisions in the household, and their economic and non-economic well-being.

While feminist economics critiques of economic theory and policy initially focussed on valuing women’s work in the household, intra-household resource allocations and gender discrimination in the labour market, the discipline has expanded over the decades to encompass a wide range of topics. These include the gendered implications of social and fiscal policy (or gender budgeting), the differential effects of globalisation, trade liberalisation and neoliberal policies on women and men, the gendered impact of the global financial crisis, gender and environmental justice, and many more.


Progress in South Africa: How far have we come?

At the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995, South Africa committed itself to the Beijing Platform of Action and thereby undertook to advance the goal of gender equality. The country has also ratified the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the objectives of which are to eliminate discrimination against women.

Considerable progress has been made in South Africa since the democratic transition. In the labour market, a raft of legislation has been introduced that seeks either to protect women directly or to offer some protection to vulnerable types of employment in which women are dominant. This includes equal opportunity legislation and the introduction of minimum wages for domestic workers and farm workers. Over recent decades, women’s share of employment has also increased, the difference in average earnings between men and women has narrowed, particularly among low-wage workers, and women’s representation in high-skilled occupations has grown (although they remain under-represented). The social security system has also expanded considerably, offering some support for the elderly and for the caregivers of children, the large majority of whom are women.


How far is there still to go?

However, there is still a long way to go in addressing gender inequality in the economy, and tackling the structural and institutional constraints that women face. While more women are employed compared to 25 years ago, women remain considerably more likely than men to be unemployed, and on average women continue to earn significantly less than men. Women also remain under-represented in certain high-paying occupations, particularly in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). With low and falling marriage rates, women are often the primary breadwinners in their household as well as the primary caregivers to children. Notwithstanding the considerable expansion in social assistance programmes, gender differences in labour market status translate into higher poverty rates among women than men. Because children in South Africa are far more likely to be living with their mother than their father, the economic vulnerability of women in turn has significant implications for the economic vulnerability of children.

Given the legacy of apartheid, and the intersection of race, gender and locality, there are also marked differences among women. African women are much more likely than other women to be poor or to be excluded from the labour market, with African women living in rural areas disproportionately affected.[2]


Special issue on “Feminist Economics: What progress in South Africa’s 25 years of democracy?”

In this special issue of Agenda, we invite contributions that reflect on how feminist economics adds to our understanding of the South African economy; that take stock of the progress made towards greater gender equality in the economy and the differences which persist; that analyse existing social and economic policies from a gendered perspective; and that consider the kinds of interventions which would further reduce gender inequality.


Possible broad research areas include:

  • Teaching feminist economics at higher education institutions
  • Gender differences in education
  • Families and household formation
  • Motherhood and work
  • The economies of care
  • Gender differences in the labour market: persistence and change
  • Self-employed women: survivalists or entrepreneurs?
  • Women and migration
  • Gender and the fourth industrial revolution: opportunities and challenges
  • Gender differences in well-being (including poverty, food security, health outcomes, and subjective well-being)
  • Inequalities among women (for example, by race, class, sexuality, motherhood, marital status, locality)
  • Gendered analysesofsocial and economic policy in South Africa (including gender budgeting)
  • Feminist theory on the capitalist market economy
  • Gender equality and economic growth


We welcome submissions using a variety of approaches, including, for example, case study analysis, qualitative research and quantitative methods. We require authors who intend to submit work using quantitative techniques (such as econometric analysis) to limit technical discussion and focus rather on presenting the findings of their work in an intuitive manner. Papers should be written so that they are accessible to a wide readership which includes a multi-disciplinary audience.


References cited


Agarwal, Bina (1994) A field of one’s own: Gender and land rights in South Asia. Cambridge University Press.

Budlender, Debbie (2001) “A survey of time use: How South African women and men spend their time.” Pretoria: Statistics South Africa.

Budlender, Debbie (2016) The introduction of a minimum wage for domestic workers in South Africa. Conditions of work and employment series; No. 72. International Labour Office, Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch, Geneva: ILO.

Burns,  Justine, Keswell, Malcolm and Leibbrandt, Murray (2005) “Social assistance, gender and the aged in South Africa”. Feminist Economics 11: 103-115.

Bruce, Judith (1989) “Homes divided”. World Development 17(7):979-991.

Casale, Daniela (2004) “What has the feminisation of the labour market bought women in South Africa? Trends in labour force participation, employment and earnings, 1995-2001”. Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics 15(3-4): 251-275.

Casale, Daniela and Posel, Dorrit (2002) “The feminisation of the labour force in South Africa: An analysis of recent data and trends”. South African Journal of Economics 70(1): 156-184.

Casale, Daniela and Posel, Dorrit (2005) “Women and the economy: How far have we come?”Agenda 64: 21-29.

Casale, Daniela and Posel, Dorrit (2011) “Unions and the gender wage gap in South Africa”. Journal of African Economies 20(1): 27-59.

Ferber, Marianne and Nelson, Julie (1993) Beyond economic man: Feminist theory and economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Elson, Diane (1991) Male bias in the development process. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Folbre, Nancy (1994) Who pays for the kids? London: Routledge.

Gradín, Carlos (2018) Occupational gender segregation in post-apartheid South Africa. WIDER Working Paper number 53.

Grün, Carola (2004) “Direct and indirect gender discrimination in the South African labour market”. International Journal of Manpower 25(3/4): 321-342.

Nelson, Julie (1996) Feminism, objectivity and economics. New York: Routledge.

Ntuli, Miracle and Wittenberg, Martin (2013) Determinants of black women’s labour force participation in post-apartheid South Africa. Journal of African Economies 22(3): 347-374.

Posel, Dorrit (2014) “Gender Inequality”, in H. Bhorat, A. Hirsch, R. Kanbur and M.Ncube (eds). Oxford Companion to the Economics of South Africa, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 303-310.

Posel, Dorrit and Muller, Colette (2008) “Is there evidence of a wage penalty to female part-time employment in South Africa?”South African Journal of Economics 76(3): 466-479.

Posel, Dorrit and Rogan, Michael (2012) “Gendered trends in poverty in the post-apartheid period, 1995 – 2006”. Development Southern Africa 29(1): 97-113.

Waring, Marilyn (1988) If women counted: A new feminist economics. London: Macmillan Press.


Contributions are accepted in any form, prose (both theoretical and practical), poetry, narrative, interviews, and visual arts. 


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.


[1]Feminist economics spans a vast literature. Some of the earlier seminal texts include Agarwal (1994); Bruce (1989); Elson (1991); Ferber and Nelson (1993) Folbre (1994); Nelson (1996) and Waring (1988).

[2]Studies which have explored the gendered nature of the South African labour market and access to resources in the post-apartheid period include: Budlender (2001, 2016); Burns et al. (2005); Casale (2004); Casale and Posel (2002, 2005, 2011); Grün (2004),Gradin (2018); Ntuli and Wittenberg (2013); Posel (2014): Posel and Muller (2008); Posel and Rogan (2012).

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