Pan-Africanism and African women

5 Min Read

May 3, 2013 By Maryajoke

A couple of months ago, when I posted about Africans in diaspora,I commented that I felt like a roving reporter. Well, the truth is I haven’t stopped since then; From being a guest speaker and panelist at conferences and workshops, to book launches, and listening to women sharing their experiences to encourage and support attendees and participants.

So why Pan-Africanism? Since the International women’s day celebrations in March ,I have attended two book launches; one by Betty Makoni (Director Girl child network), who is from Zimbabwe, and the second by Fikelephi (who is South African). Fusions of African culture was displayed in both events and this got me thinking. Recently I was a guest speaker at the ‘Women of Power’ conference and again the line up of actresses, lecturers other professionals, including MPs and a Baroness all making a difference to people’s lives through their own life experiences.

Being a gender activist, I get invited to events where women issues are addressed. This in itself is not unusual, but looking back I realize that the line-up often is a representation of Pan-Africanism by heritage (not sure if intentional, will check next time to confirm).

It was actually at the 7th Pan-African Congress that The Pan-African Women’s Liberation Organisation was formed. This opened up the issue of religious and cultural forms which were practised to reinforce the oppression of women. They also demanded that for Pan-Africanism to be relevant in the 21st century the mold of male centeredness reflected in celebration of male African leaders have to be broken. They also highlighted the fact that women have been at the forefront of the Pan African struggle on a day to day basis.

The impact of structural adjustment on African women, African women and the law, increasing survival of the African woman and child and the role of women in cultural development were hot on the agenda.

I believe it is no coincidence that formation of the Pan-African Women’s Liberation Organisation whose aim was to move beyond the state-centered organisations which are usually led by the wives of the political leaders of Africa have led to an emergence of gender activists across Africa, highlighting the plights of women from inequality in education to domestic abuse and at the same time showcasing progress made by women and various achievements in every walk of life from finance to manufacturing and entrepreneurs.

Being a part of group(s) of people where we refer to each other as sisters (and brothers), look out for and support each other, regardless of what part of Africa you are from have provided food for thought and through that the fire for reviving, and being proactive about implementations of relevant agenda on Pan-Africanism.

 Africa on the Blog, I believe is another example. We are so diverse and yet working towards the same goal of everything Africa in one voice. Are we at the forefront of rebuilding and taking Pan-Africanism forward in the 21st Century?

Over to you, one and all. Ideas, comments and suggestions, please.

“Pan-Africanism is a philosophy and movement to unify all native Africans and people of African heritage. It sets aside cultural differences in the struggle against slavery, racism and colonialism. The diverse movements share a common goal of promoting equal rights,self  government  and a recognition of shared experiences”. (Chegg 2013/05)

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