Talking about African feminism in 2020 it can encompass a number of things, including political philosophy, women writers and cultural production itself – which means the processes of creating cultural practices, values, and shared understandings. The definition of feminism is, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes,” and African feminists today are calling for the same thing as their global counterparts: freedom and liberation.
Wikipedia breaks down the definition of African feminism even further, citing different types of feminism from the continent as:
- Motherism – the Afro centric alternative to feminism involving the “dynamics of ordering, reordering, creating structures, building and rebuilding in cooperation with mother nature at all levels of human endeavor.” A motherist is someone who is committed to the survival and maintenance of Mother Earth and someone who embraces the human struggle.
- Snail-sense Feminism – a theory proposed by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo. This feminism encourages Nigerian woman to work slowly like a snail’s movement in her dealings with men in the “tough and very difficult patriarchal society they live in.” and;
- African Womanism – is grounded in African culture and Afrocentrism and focuses on the experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of African women.
Also, as Africa is not a monolith (one homogenous thing)African feminism is not one thing, as Professor Amina Mama, points out, “The continent has seen many civilizations, and long histories of trade and exchange with the rest of the world, including the recent stories of imperialism and colonialism, feminism takes multiple forms, rooted in struggles that predate and can therefore transcend the structures of modern states, to address the patriarchal legacies of capitalism at multiple locations. “
Something all African feminists do have in common is that they are brave leaders, making real changes in the African continent and throughout its Diaspora. In this, our third article on African Warrior Women, we feature four Warrior Women feminists who inspire us to never settle for being treated as less than equal to a man.
“I call myself a feminist because I believe in the power of women and our collective ability to effect change. Growing up with a single mother and several aunties and female cousins, I saw how the women around me managed every aspect of life – career, love, children, and all other societal obligations – with strength, tenacity, versatility, a sense of humour and a forward-looking vision. Juggling motherhood, work and all the different aspects that come with being a woman, I am experiencing first-hand this beautiful story of being a whole woman. As whole women we are free to bring all of who we are – our fears, tears, triumphs, gifts, faith and talent to all that we do, recognising that what we do is just as important as how we do it.” MaameAfonYelbert-Obeng
Maame was born and raised in Ghana, surrounded by a single mother, several aunts and female cousins. From the early childhood she saw how strong and brave women had to be. This made her feel greatly proud of her gender identity. For the past 12 years, Maame has been working on changes to improve lives of women and girls across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).Maame considers herself as a Whole Woman with a great variety of important roles: she is a mother, mentor, activist, musician, wife, sister and a woman of faith.One of her aims is to share the beautiful story of this self-identification, with other females.
“Women MUST be protected in their everyday lives from any form of violence, regardless of their age, class and social status.” 50/50 Group, Sierra Leone
“It is our right to be free, to move around freely, to feel safe wherever we are and to be protected by the state.” 50/50 Group, Sierra Leone
Aisha Fofana Ibrahim is a feminist scholar, researcher, activist and founder of the 50/50 Group in Sierra Leone. She is currently the Director of the INGRADOC at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Her work covers a wide range of issues including women’s experience of war, their role in post-conflict reconstruction and the lack of opportunities for political participation. Aisha tries to change the way people think about women’s leadership. Aisha spends her time focusing on overcoming barriers that limit females’ entry into politics.
“I am a feminist because I know no other way to be. I am a feminist because I care. I am a feminist because I just am. I am committed to fighting against every form of injustice, but particularly the kind that creates inequality between men and women.” ZawadiNy’ongo
Zawadi’s role in the African feminist movement is one of great value. For over 15 years she has been an advocate for women’s rights and for about nine years – a leader in the field of sexual and reproductive rights.Zawadi’s family is quite famous: her father Anyang’ Nyongo’ is a politician and her sister Lupita is a Hollywood actress.
Zawadi’s most successful project is the is the #1MilliForJadudi campaign which raised over $71,000 in a couple of days, to help a 24 -years-old brain cancer patient Emmanuel Otieno to get surgery in India. “I am a feminist because I care”, she says. She really cares not only about women but those who really need support.
“Whether you call yourself an entrepreneur, activist, or changemaker, I am here to serve you and help you achieve greater fulfilment, freedom and success.” Shamillah Wilson
“Perhaps the greatest service we can do for ourselves during these times, is to surrender to uncertainty. It requires us to embrace not knowing, and rest assured that even with not knowing we can do our best with whatever we are faced with.”Shamillah Wilson
Shamillah is a Life Coach and Founder of Project Ignition established to provide young people with a variety of opportunities to reach their greatest potential and grow into activists. Her participation in the feminist movement is followed by the same aim – she wants to let more women take part in different spheres of life, especially, in entrepreneurship. Working as a consultant on females’ rights, HIV/AIDS and sexual rights helps her to achieve this goal. Shamillah believes that feminism is not about the separation of personal and professional, but it is about the way you live your life.
Matoyana Media is a champion and supporter of female entrepreneurs, in 2018 we created a “Fearless Women” video and podcast series, interviewing 23 entrepreneurial-minded women, asking them to share their stories about how they work at being fearless in their businesses and lives.
Last year we tapped into our inner-warrior and produced a modern-day Warrior Women series, representing African women from around the continent, of all ages, races and career types. How activism has shown up in your life, particularly during the CODID-19 pandemic. Under the banners of equity, inclusion, liberation, justice, solidarity, resiliency and interdependency these are the type of activists we’re seeing more of – which one (or more) are you?