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Women and social policies in South Africa and Sierra Leone

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submitted on 2023-09-11, 11:35 and posted on 2023-09-13, 11:40 authored by Ina Conradie, Abioseh Bockarie

In Development as Freedom (1999), Amartya Sen conceptualises the Capability Approach around the idea of diferent instrumental capabilities. These instrumental capabilities would form a foundational level for individuals to access universal services and opportunities. When a person has access to these institutional opportunities, or to most of them, s/he would be better positioned to make a range of personal decisions about the life s/he would value (Sen 1999). This notion has arguably not been sufciently debated and used by policymakers, and one does not often hear about instrumental capabilities. However, instrumental capabilities form the basis of human development and can be used as a guideline for social policy formu-lation, not least for the development of women in Africa. Once women in Africa have access to most or all of these instrumental capabilities, at a reasonable level, human development and personal and collective realisation of aspirations would indeed be possible. The work of Wolf and De-Shalit (2013) furthermore reinforces these ideas. From a diferent angle, they look at how capabilities create more capabilities and how disadvantage creates increasing corrosion of well-being. We explore these ideas regarding South Africa and Sierra Leone and policies to improve women’s lives in Africa.

Other Information

Published in: Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa
See chapter on publisher's website:



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This chapter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

Geographic coverage

South Africa, Sierra Leone

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