I live in East London, South Africa. My work is across 26 African countries because I am president of Amanitare Sexual Rights Network. I am also on the board of IWRAW AP and our work is across 122 countries. I work on issues of gender equality and social justice, with specific focus on violence against women, HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health and rights. My personal vision is to work towards a world where all women are free and enjoy all their human rights.
I call myself a feminist I will not accept inequality and I recognise that our society is a patriarchal one in which power, control and privilege are vested in men. This leads to women suffering many forms of discrimination and oppression within their families, communities and society as a whole. Women are full human beings with the ability to determine their own destinies and are entitled to the freedom to control their own bodies, their lives and determine the place they want to occupy in life. Women are full human beings and should be accorded the respect and dignity that comes with being human.
African women across the continent face the challenge of patriarchy which is embedded in every system within African society. It dominates our economic, social, cultural, religious, and traditional systems and serves mainly to oppress women. Our challenge comes from the fact that patriarchy, colonization and our political systems (e.g. apartheid) has robbed us of a true sense of our power as women. Too many women suffer from a lack of self esteem from low self worth and a lack of confidence. Our starting point needs to be to re-establish a strong sense of identity and power among women. Then, It is important that we transfer knowledge and skills to younger people through inter-generational forums and to document our history and share this across the continent. We should also establish a feminist body with a political focus that works to develop young feminists and provide an ongoing feminist critique and analysis of events on the continent. A constant flow of information (using the range of ICTs) to women is needed to build the movement.
I have worked to free myself from oppression at a personal level by seeking to free myself from the notion that I needed a partner in order to be a complete human being. I have resisted relationships in which I am expected to be subservient to a man or where I have to give up my dreams and aspirations in order to be accepted. At a professional level I work to build women’s knowledge and understanding of themselves and of their potential to be change agents in their own lives and in that of other women. I have dedicated my life to supporting women in their journeys of transformation and liberation.
I am inspired by the wisdom, strength, courage and power of my daughter, who as a young adult is making her way through life in a truly amazing way. I am inspired by my two grandsons whose innocence, creativity and intelligence excite me. I am inspired the strength and courage I observe in women every day.