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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Fractured sisterhood: the historical evolution of the women's movement in Mauritius
Author:Ramtohul, RamolaISNI
Year:2010
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Issue:18-19
Pages:71-101
Language:English
Geographic term:Mauritius
Subjects:women's organizations
women's rights
plural society
Abstract:This article studies the evolution of the Mauritian women's movement, an issue that has been marginalized in Mauritian historical writings. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with leaders of women's organizations and on press archives, the article traces the historical evolution of the women's movement in Mauritius since British colonial rule. It analyses the influence of historical factors pertaining to the widespread divisions in the Mauritian population on the evolution of the women's movement and the strength of the women's lobby. Mauritius is a plural society with strongly entrenched divisions. The article argues that the evolution of the women's movement was a gradual process because women were initially clustered in religious-based organizations, which focused on education and social welfare. Yet, the situation regarding women's rights was poor as women had no rights within marriage, and in 1977 the Mauritian government introduced new legislation that discriminated against women. The 1970s witnessed the birth of a number of autonomous and semi-autonomous women's organizations, including the Ligue Féministe, the Association des Femmes Mauriciennes, and the Muvman Liberasyon Fam. The article shows that women's dire conditions, the need to improve their civil status and the support of the international women's movement led the different groups to transgress ethnic and religious boundaries and unite under umbrella women's organizations such as Front Commun Organisations Femmes and Solidarité Fam, which formed strategic feminist alliances to fight for women's rights. This collective action led to a strong women's lobby and amendments were made to the civil status Acts, granting women equal rights. Bibliogr., sum. in French and English. [Journal abstract, edited]
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