Women Representation in the Military: The Case of the South African National Defence Force, Limpopo Province

  • Knightingale Lulu Mmakola Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Limpopo, South Africa
  • Sello Levy Sithole School of Social Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Keywords: Women; Military; Combat; Gender Mainstreaming; Feminist Qualitative Methodology


Promoting gender equality and women empowerment is a long standing item on the development agenda nationally and internationally. It is also item number five of the 2030 millennium development goals; gender equality, ending all discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic right but a human right. Research has proven that empowering women and girls helps economic growth and development. Empowering women is necessary for women’s enhancement in society and the workplace, the military is no exception. This paper argues on the gender mainstreaming policies in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and whether they are adequately implemented to ensure equal representation of women in all military ranks including combat. The researchers used Liberal Feminist Theory (LFT), which advocates for women’s right to be seen and acknowledged as human rights. The researchers employed a feminist qualitative research methodology and exploratory design. Snowballing sampling technique was used to select participants in the SANDF military air-force base in Hoedspruit, Limpopo and saturation was reached after the fifteenth participant for in-depth interviews. Data was analysed using Thematic Analysis (TA). Findings in the study revealed that women in the military are of the view that the military is making strides in ensuring an equal representation between men and women, however women view themselves as less represented than their male counterparts, regardless of the policies put in place. Results also revealed that that the lack of representation of women in the military is due to the SANDF not being meant for women. The paper therefore concludes that women are not equally represented to their male counterparts in the military and that there is need for improvement towards this in senior and management positions within the SANDF. The study recommends that the SANDF as a government institution could also create a sense of urgency to all the units in the quest to ensure equal representation of women. Creating a sense of urgency not only will ensure that more women can be part of the military, but will also create an awareness of the necessity for women to join the army.


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How to Cite
Mmakola, K. L., & Sithole, S. L. (2023). Women Representation in the Military: The Case of the South African National Defence Force, Limpopo Province. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 6(9), 67-82. https://doi.org/10.47814/ijssrr.v6i9.1593