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Women have been at the forefront of global nationalist movements. In Latin America, Asia and Africa colonialism and its subjugation of men and women inevitably led to the rise of nationalistic fervour. In both South Africa and India women were at the forefront of the struggle challenging gender roles and creating new spaces for their political activism. This paper adopts a gender lens and engages in a comparative approach to document the role and contributions of women in the nationalist and anti-apartheid movement in India and South Africa respectively. It highlights the similarities and differences in terms of their mode of resistance, political agency and mobilisation. More significantly, it documents the challenges and constraints they endured in different geographical settings, in the context of gender, class, race/ethnicity and religion and how it shaped and defined their political activism and consciousness. This article contributes to narratives on gender and nationalism and how regional and continental histories shape and define women’s participation and opportunities.
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