Theoretical Exploration on Improving Women Inclusiveness and Participation: A Study of South African Foreign Policy Decision-Making
The objective of this study was to theoretically explore ways that could improve the inclusiveness and participation of women in South Africa foreign policy decision-making. This was based on the continuous under-representation of women in both the political sphere and the decision-making positions of South African foreign policy. To achieve this objective, this study adopted a literature review approach to research, wh'ich assisted in revealing the magnitude of gender disparity that has existed in the political and democratic scene in South Africa. Previous literature revealed a significant dominance of the male gender in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, thereby revealing the negligible number of women participating in foreign policy decision-making. Although it was identified that the current minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation is a woman, questions have been raised from the opposition parties as to how much decision-making freedom she has without the interference of other political stakeholders in South Africa. In line with this scenario, this study identified and adopted the Intersectionality Theory and Kanter's theory, in the context of improving women’s inclusiveness and participation in South African foreign policy decision-making. The fundamental challenges of women’s inclusiveness and participation in decision-making positions were identified as custom and laws, religious practices, financial constraints, political impediments, women’s perceptions of politics, and family responsibilities. Hence, it was recommended that to improve the inclusion and participation of women in South African politics, which paves way for improving representation in foreign decision-making, policymakers should employ the theoretical findings and application of this study. The movements and activism, gender quotas, electoral and political leadership systems and women empowerment were also recommended as factors that could improve women’s inclusiveness and participation in both the political sphere and South African foreign policy decision-making.
Keywords: Women and Politics; Inclusiveness and Participation; Foreign Policy; Decision-Making