I live in a country which The Economist magazine described in 2003 as “the worst place in the world to live”. Now we have made history by electing the first female president in Africa. These descriptions eliminate every other country except Liberia.
I work as the Women’s Rights Coordinator of ActionAid Liberia, meaning that I am the one who angers people, despite my smile, as I bring up taboo topics, demand women’s rights, and hold no apology for this stance. This responsibility entails working with community women on one day, and sitting in a room filled with old men who say “only a virgin can be raped” on another. I am a poetess too and have used poetry to heal my war wounds and exorcise stubborn demons out of my life.
Liberia is a deeply patriarchal society, male dominated and inequitable. Women suffer daily violations of their rights as if it were normal. I come from the background and belief that this anomaly should be deconstructed and challenged to move ahead. In doing this, women must have the ideological and spiritual drive to feel strong in their position. It is in feminism that I have found answers and clarity of purpose. It is in feminism that I have found the description and structure that certifies my feelings, thoughts and outrageous anger. I call myself a feminist because I have no other description for my beliefs.
While working, I also completed graduate school, and wrote a research paper whose premise focuses on the inherent need for feminism in women’s struggles. I will use this document to share information on Liberian society and how the mainstream perceives women contribution to social change. This analysis, I believe, will help both young and old women value feminist reasoning and positioning.
We have a way to go in understanding our united strength, deconstructing the myth of male supremacy and the practice of patriarchy. In Liberia, feminism is considered a derogatory ideology. How do we share the joys and values of this movement that breathes life into our being? Only by lifting the cover from our eyes-male and female- will we know that the world is different and changing.
To build the feminist movement in Africa, we need more women to identify openly as feminists. We need to support documentation of feminist literature. And we need to hold feminist forums nationally as a means of outreaching and being more visible as feminists. Whenever I encounter the intellect of a woman, ready to challenge falsehoods that violate our rights I am inspired. I am humbled when African sisters provide this intellectual ambience!