'Practicing' women's agency and the struggle for transformation in South Africa
In this paper I look at the way in which women in a South African township practice their 'agency' in their personal lives, in their economic activity, and in their community commitments. In the post-apartheid period, women enjoy a supportive policy environment and an extraordinary increase in women's representation in political spaces, yet the ANC led state has not maintained 'invited' spaces for women to engage with the structural conditions of gender inequality at the local level. Nevertheless, we find extraordinary accounts of women creatively 'practicing' their agency. I explore the way in which women push the boundaries of effective agency despite the conditions of oppression that characterise the broader social, economic, and political context. I show how the women face many obstacles to effecting transformative agency, but nevertheless carve out their independence through consciously determining the way in which they carry out their daily activities in collective and individual ways.