Gender equality and happiness among South African women
Rustin, Carmine Jianni
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Have South African women's lives become happier since the transition to democracy? If they are, could this be linked to gender equality? This is the central question of this study. This study explored a group of women’s subjective experiences of gender equality, by which I mean equality on the basis of gender; and happiness, which refers to women’s life satisfaction and their affective state. It further explores whether gender equality and happiness are linked. The study assumed that everything being equal, endeavours to liberate women from patriarchy and towards gender equality enhance women’s happiness. 1994 ushered in a democratic South Africa and numerous legislative and policy changes were introduced that affect women. Considerable gains have been made at the constitutional and political levels for women’s equality and gender justice. This is reflected in the rankings of South Africa on many different indices. Yet, we see numerous challenges facing women including poverty and gender-based violence. This study examined whether the presence of a range of policies as well as affirmative and protective measures for women have impacted on how they experience their lives. In particular, do they feel that they are happy and do they see happiness as linked to gender equality efforts? Given the research question, this study was grounded within a feminist framework. A mixed methods approach utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods was employed.