Social capital and women's participation in three land reform trusts : a case of mixed blessings.
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Gender equality and the participation ofwomen is emphasised in the South African Land Reform Programme. At the same time, the programme is also premised on the group ownership and management of the land. As such, the land reform is often operationalised through community based legal entities, which usually take the form of Trusts and Communal Property Associations. The Department ofLand Affairs encourages communities to elect women to these bodies, on the assumption that this involvement ofwomen will translate into gender sensitive planning and management on the part of these entities. Through the examination ofthree Land Trusts in KwaZulu Natal, this paper seeks to establish the validity of such an assumption in light of the patriarchy that often exists in rural areas. The focus of the paper is whether the dynamics inherent in these communities, and the entities they have formed, allow women to participate in decision making in a manner sufficient to achieve the ideals of equity inscribed in governmental policy. In addressing this question, the dissertation examines (i) how women are involved in the Trusts (ii) the implications of their involvement (iii) whether the increasingly popular concept of social capital provides a useful tool in understanding the issues that arise around the participation of women in the entities.