I currently live in Mali where I work for Ashoka. My role is to support social entrepreneurs and their organisations, also known as Changemakers. The work I do is based on the assumption that every problem, every issue in any community can be solved by engaging people to find innovative solutions to these problems. Using this philosophy, we support these processes by making visible the initiatives and facilitating networking among Changemakers to ensure that they are able to realize their objectives sand find opportunities for collaboration where possible. The philosophy is also based on the idea that given that new problems are constantly born, we need to equip everyone from childhood to have the capacity and the sense of responsibility to act and bring about change and justice. I also write and publish books and other educational materials for children. My role is to inspire and nurture the minds of children to become leaders and changemakers ultimately.
I am a feminist because I believe that women have different ways of being and relating and can ultimately drive the positive change we need to transform our world. I realize that some fundamental things need to change for the positive for most of society, including women, men, children and many categories of people that suffer injustice. However, I do believe that feminism has the potential to bring about justice, peace, happiness and joy in the public and private life.
Feminists everywhere share some of the same challenges, but in Africa, we have the added form of racial marginalization including the ones coming from our white sisters and the internalize ones from our black sisters. We also face the challenges of poverty that is born from exploitation and injustice.
If we want to change our reality, we have to socialise our children, male and female, to be feminist such that they develop the qualities of empathy, self-confidence and courage to bring about the desired change.
When I am working to defend women’s rights in West Africa, I have to deal with the fact that men and women in many of our communities are suffering under blatant form of injustices and exploitation. I have to deal with the fact that the expectation is that we also defend other issues in our communities.
It is therefore challenging to be a feminist daughter, wife, mother, and worker. In all parts of my life, the struggles are present and constant. I have to make sure that I stay true to my beliefs. Whilst at the same time honouring my commitment to stay joyful and alive in relationships with other people inside and outside of my community. To engage with institutions that are not feminist, I do my best to learn from my failure to laugh at myself and remain optimistic. I also ensure that I engage with people and institutions that are supportive.
On a daily basis, as I see people coming up with great ideas and dedicating their life to bring about change, I am humbled and inspired. Personally, working with children and relearning from them the qualities we lose as we grow older, gives me hope and joy.