I am a human rights lawyer and I am currently working for UNDP in New York. I am a feminist because I believe as a human rights activist that there is a serious emergency for women and girls to be respected and for them to have the same opportunities as men and boys in all spheres of society. But, most importantly, I am a feminist because I am angry, not ready to compromise and prepared to stand up against any violation of women’s and girls’ rights anywhere in the world. I believe that it is time for accelerated action as women of the world have been patient for long enough. I feel like the feminist community is the space for well thought through, critical and effective change. I am a feminist with not a single maybe, if or but.
I think African feminists face challenges within and outside the movement. Within the movement there is a lot of unnecessary ego fights and distrust that make us weaker. There is also a lack of serious commitment to accountability and to empowering as well as giving space to younger women. I think that African Feminists should urgently become versed, visible and lead several critical development issues to influence all policies and programme that affect women and girls in Africa. As a Francophone African I also feel that the movement is evolving at two speeds depending on where you come from and that sometimes Francophone (and also Lusophone) sisters are left behind. Sometimes it feels like the leadership of the movement is nearly exclusively exercised by Anglophone sisters.
Outside the movement I think the greatest challenge for us is to be understood by our families and communities and too many times I have seen how lonely and isolated some of the sisters are. Finally, I feel like there is too much interference from other regions (especially the US and Europe) in our fora while we get very limited access to theirs.
Coming from a very traditional community, I am seen as an alien because I choose to oppose and strongly voice concerns about inequality and harmful practices in my own family and community. I believe that change start with us and our closest relationships and that it can only come from daily actions using a zero tolerance policy at all moments. I also try to show my family and community that there are other values that they have that I hold and respect and that I am not rejecting our culture. In my work I always try to support, give visibility and encourage dynamic, professional and innovative initiatives. I am also trying to participate in the rejuvenation of the movement by encouraging young women like me to participate actively. Finally, as I am bilingual, I always try to assist Francophone sisters to voice their priorities to our Anglophone sisters and I also participate actively in the revitalisation of the feminist movement in Francophone Africa.
I am inspired by any victory against patriarchy, by older sisters who have managed to stay true to themselves and empower and mentor others and by those who stand up and speak up when they are alone. I am inspired by the strength and courage of women who overcome adversity, who are vibrant, honest and committed to continue working towards societal change at all levels with not a single maybe, if or but.