Dorcas Coker-Appiah

Individual African feminists

I am a long-time resident of Accra, Ghana’s fast expanding capital. I am the Executive Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, a women’s rights advocacy organisation based in Accra. Like most activists, I am also involved in a myriad of other activities. In Ghana, I am on the steering committee of […]

I am a long-time resident of Accra, Ghana’s fast expanding capital. I am the Executive Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, a women’s rights advocacy organisation based in Accra. Like most activists, I am also involved in a myriad of other activities. In Ghana, I am on the steering committee of a network of women’s rights organisations, NETRIGHT. I am also a member of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)- Ghana and I’m chair of the board of the pan-African network Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF). At the international level, I am a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the body of experts elected under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to monitor implementation of the Convention by States Parties.

I call myself a feminist because I believe in the equal rights of women and men. I believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men to achieve their full potential. I believe that having children is a gift from God but not the raison d’être of being a woman, and that as a human being and a woman I have the right to be whatever I want to be and do whatever I want to do. I believe that as a woman, my value is in my being a woman and not as somebody’s wife or mother. These beliefs form the core of my feminist principles.

I think feminists today face most, if not all the challenges that our predecessors faced including enduring socio-cultural norms that prescribe the roles of women as being subservient to men and under men’s authority. Women remain burdened with the role of carrying on the regeneration of our tribes and nations and therefore with men’s attempts to control their sexuality. We are also seeing a resurgence of religious fundamentalism which is eroding the gains that we achieved in the last two decades.

I continue to be humbled by the stories of numerous women whose lives have brought joy and comfort to their families and friends, their sacrifices and the personal struggles which created the space for me and several like me to be where we are today. I am inspired by somebody thanking me for having helped her or him to obtain justice. I am inspired by the little unnamed acts of kindness in this world of materialism and selfishness. I am inspired by the early morning birds that wake me up with their melodious songs, the beautiful flowers and their fragrant scents, the beautiful orange glows of the sunset and the silvery shine of the full moon sliding over trees.


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