African Feminism Discussion paper July 2022
Introduction | Global: Brief history of feminism | Continental: African Feminisms | African feminism spectrum | Charter of African Feminist Principles for African Feminists | Regional: Southern Africa | Local: South Africa | Feminist organisations in South Africa | Role of young women | Young women led feminist groups in Africa | Challenging harmful cutlural practices | The role of men | Why we still need feminism | The future of African Feminism | Questions for discussion
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There is debate about whether men can be called feminists. At two ends of the spectrum – arguments by pro-feminist men that gender should not be a barrier to their full and active participation, others argue that feminism is rooted in women’s experiences and the movement founded by women for women’s liberation and men have no right co-opt the name. Despite the label, men do subscribe to feminist ideals – which is a world where women and men have equal rights. There is increasing consensus, especially in Africa about the importance of involving me in the struggle for women’s rights and empowerment. It is also disingenuous for any movement for social justice to deliberately exclude supporters of their movement.
As beneficiaries of, and those who uphold patriarchy, men have to be brought along. Men need to be engaged at all level, as fathers, brothers, husbands, traditional leaders, politicians, faith-based leaders to be advocates for women’s equal rights in all spheres of society.
Men can be true allies by understanding their privilege and the ways in which their behaviour and actions perpetuate their dominance in society. They should work alongside women rather than on behalf of women. They should vehemently oppose harmful cultural practices and beliefs that put women and girls’ lives at risk. And they should call out all sexism (subtle and overt) in private and public spaces.