December Issue 2014

Page 141

How important is it for Africa to embrace feminism and the leadership of women? In Africa, we have been disadvantaged for decades by cultural norms, customs and traditions of our societies that became a source of legislation and limited our roles as housewives and mothers. However, women were gradually breaking the chains of patriarchy by being in the frontline of social movements, running farms and businesses, leading community associations and running for political office. Still, we are challenged on a daily basis and underrepresented with limited participation at key leadership positions in public service, politics, governance and other sectors. Yet, the few African women who have made it to the top level of leadership proved that women can lead! So, if we are heading towards democratizing our systems in Africa, it is essential and crucial to start by providing women a central role in the journey of nation building and development whether in the sphere of public life, government or outside. We don’t even need to look up to the Western experience but to learn from examples inside the continent and how women leadership

transformed societies and governance such as in Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya and especially Rwanda. Taher Hadded, a Tunisian scholar and politician, said: “women are half of humanity”. For Africa to embrace feminism, we need first to change the perception of being a feminist, because we do not ask to dominate humanityas man did for decades- but to have equal

opportunities, duties and responsibilities. I think when women and men in Africa make decisions together, the decisions will better reflect and respond to the diverse needs and rights of the entire population. The shortage of women in leadership isn’t only a gender issue because the advantages don’t accrue just to women and children but gender inequality harms the society as a whole. We need to share power in partnership with our men counterparts based on inclusion and collaboration.