Truth commissions and gender: A South African case study
South Africa’s gendered past was never substantially addressed by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) despite attempts by women’s groups to ensure its inclusion.. The TRC’s treatment of gender was in part constrained by its ‘gender-blind’ mandate, which ignored the different experiences and interests of men and women. Its shortfalls were further reinforced by the combination of limited time and resources, the lack of a systematic proactive gender strategy, and the lack of sustained involvement and interventions by the feminist community. While interventions by women’s groups and activists led the Commission to take up gender in ad hoc ways, such as through the Special Hearings on Women, the engagement of the TRC with gender remained at best tangential and as such the opportunity to capture a more complete picture of the apartheid era was lost.