Strategic Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships as a Tool for Achieving SDG 5 on Gender Equality in South Africa


  • Olebogeng Selebi University of Pretoria
  • Karen Landsberg University of Pretoria
  • Mamosa Makaya University of Pretoria



gender equality, women and girls, multi-stakeholder partnerships, SDG 5, SDG 17


South Africa faces several socioeconomic issues—gender inequality being one of them. This issue cannot be addressed by government alone and requires the involvement of other stakeholders. This study provides valuable insights into existing multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in South Africa aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.5 (gender equality through support for women in leadership). The aim of this qualitative research study was threefold. Firstly, it investigated the focus areas of existing strategic MSPs driving the achievement of SDG 5.5. Secondly, it aimed to understand the collaborative approaches within these partnerships. Finally, it determined how existing relationships could be improved. This was a generic qualitative study. Twelve professionals (from 12 organisations) participated in the semi-structured interviews. The findings were analysed using thematic analysis. Several findings came to the fore—one of which related to the involvement of men as a key driver of gender equality in South Africa.


Al-Mandhari, A., M. El-Adawy, W. Khan, and A. Ghaffar. 2019. “Health for All by All-Pursuing Multi-Sectoral Action on Health for SDGs in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.” Globalization and Health 15 (1): 64. DOI:

Arora-Jonsson, S., S. Agarwal, C. J. P. Colfer, S. Keene, P. Kurian, and A. M. Larson. 2019. “SDG 5: Gender Equality—A Precondition for Sustainable Forestry.” In Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People, edited by P. Katila, C. J. P. Colfer, W. de Jong, G. Galloway, P. Pacheco and G. Winkel 146–77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:

Basco-Carrera, L., E. Meijers, H. D. Sarısoy, N. O. Şanli, S. Coşkun, W. Oliemans, E. Van Beek, Y. Karaaslan, and A. Jonoski. 2018. “An Adapted Companion Modelling Approach for Enhancing Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation in Complex River Basins.” International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 25 (8): 747–64. DOI:

Blersch, C., and A. Chang. 2018. “Gender in Civil Engineering—Building an Equal Future.” Civil Engineering = Siviele Ingenieurswese 9: 52–55.

Botha, D. 2017. “Barriers to Career Advancement of Women in Mining: A Qualitative Analysis.” South African Journal of Labour Relations 41 (1): 15–32. DOI:

Bullough, A., F. Moore, and T. Kalafatoglu. 2017. “Research on Women in International Business and Management: Then, Now, and Next.” Cross Cultural and Strategic Management 24 (2): 211–30. DOI:

Cachia, M., and L. Millward. 2011. “The Telephone Medium and Semi-Structured Interviews: A Complementary Fit.” Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 6 (3): 265–77. DOI:

Caelli, K., L. Ray, and J. Mill. 2003. “Clear as Mud: Toward Greater Clarity in Generic Qualitative Research.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2 (2): 1–13. DOI:

Coe, I. R., R. Wiley, and L. G. Bekker. 2019. “Organisational Best Practices towards Gender Equality in Science and Medicine.” Lancet 393 (10171): 587–93. DOI:

Creswell, J. W. 2012. Educational Research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.

De Beers. 2020. “AWOME (Accelerating Women Owned Micro-Enterprises).” Accessed April 27, 2020.

Deshpande, A., and R. A. Bhat. 2019. “Women and Sustainable Development Goals—Agenda 2030 (Gender Inequality and Women Health Issues from Indian Perspective).” Scholedge International Journal of Business Policy and Governance 6 (4): 30–42.

EU (European Commission). 2012. “Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Improving the Gender Balance among Non-Executive Directors of Companies Listed on Stock Exchanges and Related Measures.” Accessed February 19, 2020.

Fenske, J. 2010. “The Causal History of Africa: A Response to Hopkins.” Economic History of Developing Regions 25 (2): 177–212. DOI:

Harwell, M. R. 2011. “Research Design in Qualitative/Quantitative/Mixed Methods.” In The Sage Handbook for Research in Education: Pursuing Ideas as the Keystone of Exemplary Inquiry, edited by F. C. Conrad and R. C. Serlin, 2nd ed., 147–64. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. DOI:

Haywood, L. K., N. Funke, M. Audouin, C. Musvoto, and A. Nahman. 2019. “The Sustainable Development Goals in South Africa: Investigating the Need for Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships.” Development Southern Africa 36 (5): 555–69. DOI:

Horan, D. 2019. “A New Approach to Partnerships for SDG Transformations.” Sustainability 11 (18): 4947. DOI:

IAEG-SDGs (Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators). 2019. Global Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/71/313 E/CN.3/2018/2 E/CN.3/2019/2. Accessed March 1, 2020.

Kabaseke, C. 2018. “Equality or Pipe Dreams: Gender and Inclusive Development under the African Union’s Agenda 2063.” Journal of Comparative Law in Africa 5 (2): 73–97.

Kalaitzi, S., K. Czabanowska, S. Fowler-Davis, and H. Brand. 2017. “Women Leadership Barriers in Healthcare, Academia and Business.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 36 (5): 457–74. DOI:

Kaur, M., J. Jauhar, and Z. Mohaidin. 2017. “Factors Causing Female Inequality in Malaysian Organisations: A Conceptual Model.” Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal 9 (4): 361–73.

Kothari, C. R. 2004. Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques. 2nd rev. ed. New Delhi: New Age International Publishers.

Leach, M., L. Mehta, and P. Prabhakaran. 2016. Sustainable Development: A Gendered Pathways Approach. New York, NY: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Accessed June 14, 2023.

Madsen, S. R., and R. T. Scribner. 2017. “A Perspective on Gender in Management: The Need for Strategic Cross-Cultural Scholarship on Women in Management and Leadership.” Cross Cultural and Strategic Management 24 (2): 231–50. DOI:

Mesmer-Magnus, J. R., and L. A. DeChurch. 2009. “Information Sharing and Team Performance: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94 (2): 535–46. DOI:

Mohr, J., and R. Spekman. 1994. “Characteristics of Partnership Success: Partnership Attributes, Communication Behavior, and Conflict Resolution Techniques.” Strategic Management Journal 15 (2): 135–52. DOI:

Musau, Z. 2019. “African Women in Politics: Miles to Go before Parity Is Achieved.” Africa Renewal, April 8, 2019. Accessed February 19, 2020.

Neerukonda, M., and B. Chaudhuri. 2018. “Are Technologies (Gender)-Neutral: Politics and Policies of Digital Technologies.” ASCI Journal of Management 47: 32–44.

Nel, D. 2017. “Multi-Sector Stakeholder Partnerships as a Mechanism for Creating Public Value.” African Journal of Public Affairs 9 (9): 63–79.

NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development). 2018. “Promoting Women Participation in Local Governance.” May 25, 2018. Accessed February 2, 2020.

Onditi, F., and J. Odera. 2017. “Gender Equality as a Means to Women Empowerment? Consensus, Challenges and Prospects for Post-2015 Development Agenda in Africa.” African Geographical Review 36 (2): 146–67. DOI:

Ozoya, M. I., P. A. Edewor, C. T. Iruonagbe, A. E. Idowu, I. A. Chiazor, T. O. George, and M. E. Egharevba. 2017. “A Chronological Overview of Women Empowerment Initiatives in Nigeria.” IFE PsychologIA: An International Journal 25 (1): 304–17.

Rindfleisch, A., A. J. Malter, S. Ganesan, and C. Moorman. 2008. “Cross-Sectional versus Longitudinal Survey Research: Concepts, Findings, and Guidelines.” Journal of Marketing Research 45 (3): 261–79. DOI:

Roy, C. K., and H. Xiaoling. 2022. “Achieving SDG 5, Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls, in Developing Countries: How Aid for Trade Can Help?” International Journal of Social Economics 49 (6): 930–59. DOI:

Sachs, J. D., G. Schmidt-Traub, M. Mazzucato, D. Messner, N. Nakicenovic, and J. Rockström. 2019. “Six Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” Nature Sustainability 2 (9): 805–14. DOI:

Sengupta, S., and S. D. Roy. 2018. “Data Equality to Gender Equality: Responding to 2030 Agenda.” ASCI Journal of Management 47: 111–25.

Shen, H., Y. Gao, and C. Zhang. 2019. “Managing Conflict and Trust as Coopetition within Alliance Partnerships in an Emerging Economy.” South African Journal of Business Management 50 (1): a467. DOI:

Sloan, P., and D. Oliver. 2013. “Building Trust in Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships: Critical Emotional Incidents and Practices of Engagement.” Organization Studies 34 (12): 1835–868. DOI:

Spraul, K., and J. Thaler. 2019. “Partnering for Good? An Analysis of How to Achieve Sustainability-Related Outcomes in Public–Private Partnerships.” Business Research 13: 485–511. DOI:

Stats SA (Statistics South Africa). 2017. “Women in Power: What Do the Statistics Say?” Stats SA, August 21, 2017. Accessed February 17, 2020.

Stats SA (Statistics South Africa). 2019. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Country Report—South Africa. Pretoria: Stats SA. Accessed April 19, 2020.

Stephens, A., E. D. Lewis, and S. Reddy. 2018. “Towards an Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for the SDGs: Gender Equality, Environments and Marginalized Voices (GEMs).” Evaluation 24 (2): 220–36. DOI:

Stibbe, D., S. Reid, and J. Gilbert. 2019. Maximising the Impact of Partnerships for the SDGs: A Practical Guide to Partnership Value Creation. New York, NY: The Partnering Initiative and UN DESA. Accessed January 11, 2020.

UN (United Nations). n.d. “Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.” Accessed April 11, 2020.

UN (United Nations). 2023. “The 17 Goals.” Accessed April 27, 2023.

UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme). 2023. “GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals.” Accessed April 27, 2023.

Van Staden, A., N. Ahmed, Y. Getachew, I. M. A. Gledhill, M. Kanjere, and S. Khuluse-Makhanya. 2019. “‘Gender Shouldn’t Matter Because We Are All Scientists Here’: A Narration of the Panel Discussion at the 2nd International Women in Science without Borders Conference.” South African Journal of Science 115 (3/4): #5865. DOI:

World Bank. 2019. “Global Uncertainty Continues to Slow Growth in Africa’s Economies.” Press release, October 9, 2019. Accessed March 4, 2020.

Yakovleva, N., D. A. Vazquez-Brust, F. Arthur-Holmes, and K. A. Busia. 2022. “Gender Equality in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Ghana: Assessing Progress towards SDG 5 Using Salience and Institutional Analysis and Design.” Environmental Science and Policy 136: 92–102. DOI:



How to Cite

Selebi, Olebogeng, Karen Landsberg, and Mamosa Makaya. 2023. “Strategic Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships As a Tool for Achieving SDG 5 on Gender Equality in South Africa”. Gender Questions 11 (2):24 pages .



Received 2022-01-12
Accepted 2023-05-02
Published 2023-12-01