Conceptualizing Feminism in Africa: The Challenges facing African women writers and critics


Nkeelah 2006.

There are many African women and writers who have decided to distance themselves from Feminism because of the misconceptions that  have been attached to feminism. These include feminism being anti-male, anti-culture and anti-religion. Yet it is about empowering women.

African writers and critics do want to make it clear that because someone is advocating for women’s rights, it does not mean that they are feminists.

Feminism encompasses distancing women from the idea and practice that they are insubordinate, it promotes the equality of opportunities, it encourages gender discourse and gender relations. It is the conscious process of self-renewal in thought, feeling and action, it is deconstructing the status quo and transforming the existing reality. It is being emancipated from patriarchy and submission to tradition. Yet feminism has been critiqued for being a Western ideology. This is why different kinds of feminism exist, as a means to accommodate all women of different classes, races, geographical positions and who have different sexualities.

African feminism is an example of this. It promotes self-worth, rejects the stereotypes of women, it recognises the potential that women possess and it aims at uprooting the deep-rooted misconceptions that people have about the female sex. Many people struggle with conceptualising this but being female is what your biological sex is and being feminine is the cultural conceptions that people have about gender. But African feminism focuses on the socio-economic development of women. African women are orators and activists.

Patriarchy also operates through religion and culture.

Feminism is a political weapon. It is individualistic and opposes the communal nature of African society.

This read was important not only because it is Women’s month but it gives insight into the different feminisms that exist and is helpful especially to those who believe that only people who identify as female can be feminists.