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Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


The purpose of this study is to explore how South African civil society organizations (CSOs) influence government policies that are put into place to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV). The project seeks to determine what strategies for influencing these policies have been the most effective and had the greatest impact, what factors have contributed to the organizations’ successes in influencing these policies, what challenges have been experienced in attempting to influence these policies, and what best practice for civil society actors attempting to influence such policies might be. The research focuses on the experiences of seven women working that currently work or have worked for various CSOs and coalitions attempting to influence GBV prevention and response policies in South Africa. The examined organizations include MOSAIC, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Sonke Gender Justice, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the Shukumisa Campaign. Oral interviews with staff members from these five organizations, as well as two interviews with anonymous participants with years of experience working with various CSOs in the sector, were the primary method of data collection for this project. These interviews were supplemented by desktop research on GBV policy and public participation in South Africa. Through these research methods, this study interrogates how civil society has influenced GBV policy in South Africa, and how, drawing on learnings and insight in this regard, it might have a greater impact in the future, shining a light on the issue of GBV, participation in the policymaking process by survivors of GBV themselves, and nonprofit effectiveness in policy influence in South Africa.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Gender and Sexuality | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Policy | Women's Studies


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