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South Africa

  • By: Kim Miller
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The experience of motherhood in South Africa has been profoundly shaped by the history of apartheid and the resultant disparities in living conditions between peoples. During apartheid, the majority of women lived lives marked by racial oppression, poverty, and an absence of rights. Then and now, mothers' lives differed greatly depending on their race, geographic location, and economic status. Because apartheid created enormous and pervasive divisions among women, it is impossible to speak definitively about one kind of motherhood experience. In contemporary South Africa, the majority of mothers continue to feel the effects of apartheid.

Lasting from 1943–94, the political system of apartheid legally divided South African peoples into separate racial groups, where a white minority ruled over an ethnically diverse majority. Black South African women ...

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