The transnational factor: The beginnings of South Africa’s women’s movement
Fernandes, Monica Gameiro
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The South African women’s movement had its origins in the Cape, but it also had a strong transnational relationship with countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. The earliest formally created women’s organisation in the country, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), established in 1889, focused on forging a pure society that was liberated from the so-called constraints and perils of liquor. By 1892, the WCTU had formed a franchise department in response to the absence of female enfranchisement in the Cape, therefore promoting women’s national and international suffrage. The WCTU encouraged the establishment of other women’s organisations such as the Women’s Enfranchisement League (WEL) in 1907, which was solely dedicated to the promotion and creation of women’s suffrage. This article aims to understand the international links of the WCTU and WEL as the first two women’s organisations in the Cape Colony. It does so through the framework of transnationalism and also considers the transnational influence on further developments in South Africa’s women’s movement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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