Kathambi Kinoti

Individual African feminists

I live and work in Nairobi, Kenya. A lawyer by training, I have extensive experience in the field of women’s rights. I am a writer and researcher, passionate about women and Africa. For the past few years, I have worked as the Women’s Rights Information Coordinator of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), […]

I live and work in Nairobi, Kenya. A lawyer by training, I have extensive experience in the field of women’s rights. I am a writer and researcher, passionate about women and Africa. For the past few years, I have worked as the Women’s Rights Information Coordinator of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and currently I am a founder trustee of the Young Women’s Leadership, an organization that works towards the holistic empowerment of young women..

I am a feminist because I yearn for and work for rights and justice for women everywhere. I embrace feminist theories that trace the cause of women’s inequality to patriarchy, and I believe that for fundamental change to occur, we must dismantle patriarchy.

As African feminists, the list of issues and challenges that we are confronted with is extensive. Whilst, there are countless efforts across the continent to address these challenges, we fall short as African feminists in sharing our work and telling our multiple stories. This often leads to our wonderful work being told by others, or even misrepresented and sometimes appropriated by other actors. To find appeal and connection to women across the board, we have to take seriously this challenge to make our work known, accessible and connect it to women where they are. Whilst the African Feminist Forum through the Voice Power and Soul publication is attempting to do this, more of us need to be challenging the discourse about African women and African feminism.

At another level, the backlash against women’s human rights defenders, against the gains that feminists have made seems to be increasing in certain contexts. It always seems like we are moving two steps forward one step back. The consequences of voicing out and confronting injustices need to be borne in mind when we develop our strategies. And of course, to achieve our goals we need enough money, but there isn’t enough of it finding its way to the feminist movement on the continent. What we need is more funding; more sharing of strategies and stories; and greater celebration of African feminists. We could also make better use of the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists by sharing it to more widely, including with movements in other regions, and translating it into other languages so that it can be accessible to more women. Finally, in our organisations, we need to find ways to operationalize it so that the principles we hold so dear do not remain a utopia only, but becomes living practice (with the challenges that come with it) in more feminist organisations in the region.

At a personal and professional level, my contribution has been to write to about the challenges, and to explore and share what has worked in different countries, regions or communities. I am deeply inspired by positive and uplifting stories as it is an affirmation that it’s not all doom and gloom in the world. I am also energised through creativity, beauty and ultimately justice.

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The 'African Feminist Ancestors Project' seeks to document the rich history of African women's struggles for autonomy and change. Click on the button below if you would like to contribute details of an African Feminist Ancestor to this project.

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