I am currently an African human rights and gender consultant living in Mbabane, Swaziland. I work for Women for Women Development Consultancy a company I co-own with a colleague. I have positioned myself to serve in assignments that have added value to the lives of women and their communities.
I call myself a feminist because as far back as I can recall I have been questioning and fighting in overt and subtle ways my disempowerment and that of other women both within my family, and public spaces such as school, church, work environment and politically.
One of the key problems we face as feminists is a depoliticised agenda, most government are seen to be taking on the gender agenda as such feminist agenda is generally regarded as irrelevant because of the view that governments are already attending to all issues around gender inequality and equity. Feminists are also faced with serious misunderstanding and backlash from the very women whose interests they seek to represent. More and more women are of the view that feminism has since been overtaken by events because of international, regional, sub-regional protocols that seek to protect them and constitutions that have to varying degrees entrenched gender equality. To an extent some of the privileges that come with education, urban dwelling with its amenities and luxuries have also contributed to feminism being misconstrued. In addition, the combination of issues that contribute to women’s lived experiences: the widening gap in haves and have-nots of society with women being most affected; HIV and AIDS, lack of access to education and good job opportunities are seen mainly rural women’s issues or sectorally rather than mainstream feminists issues; and continue to put pressure on us to find alternative ways to transform women’s lives. Finally, the lack of resources for feminist organisations to consistently and systematically address the challenges we see around us is another key issue we have to work our minds around.
To really address these challenges, we need to provide spaces for feminist engagement from grassroots levels, upwards with agreed coordinating mechanisms. We also need to mobilise funding for women’s organisations from women themselves. Finally, we need to devise strategies that empower women cross-sectionally, economically, politically and socially.
In my personal and professional life I have since childhood committed myself to contributing to addressing these realities. I have questioned inequality within the family, access to positions at Sunday school, power contestation at university, challenging of laws that affect women who have contracted marriage similar to mine i.e. in community of property profit and loss. See Doo Aphane v. Registrar of Deeds, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Attorney General.
I draw a lot of inspiration from the Charter of Feminists Principles for African Feminists. It can be used for personal empowerment, for organisational strengthening purposes, and also to make African feminism more accessible to a wider audience.
I am inspired by life, which I believe is worth living; as well as my aging mother who is very energetic and able to look at life positive even when she is at her most vulnerable.