I am a feminist educator, theologian and activist and currently working as a grantmaker. For the last 30 years I have worked in jobs that have had women at the centre. I view the world through women’s eyes. I have a fi rsthand knowledge through working with women in many geographies, circumstances, and conditions and I ultimately believe that there is global injustice that affects women’s lives right from childhood. I call myself a feminist because I stand with women on issues of justice. I have worked as an international leader for the last twenty-fi ve years, but always intimately connected with Africa and specifically with the lives of African women.
I am currently working with The David and Lucile Packard Foundation in California as Director of the Population and Reproductive Health Program. Through our grant making we are working towards a future where women have reproductive health choices. The issues that I work on are close to my heart as a feminist.
The biggest challenge for feminists in Africa is the lack of cohesion and space for using our collective power; women who identify themselves as feminists very often work in isolation. Another challenge is overcoming the idea that women’s concerns are somehow smaller than the “big” issues of poverty, bad political governments, or disease. We always have to argue that changing the status of women is part of the solution to all of these things.
I have learned to speak the truth to power both in the private and in the public arena and also to know that if women have to make a change, they also need to have resources including money. I advocate for the empowerment of women with skills and education and decision-making spaces as well as for funding women’s’ own ideas and spaces. I speak out with courage on issues that are important to African women and to the women’s movement as a whole. I live the life of a feminist in my home, and in my religious, social and political spaces.
I am inspired by having seen some big changes in my lifetime, including the overturning of the apartheid system, the fall of the great wall in eastern Europe, the rise to power of women such as President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, and the election of the first African-American president. I am inspired by seeing young women fi nd their own voice and use it. I am inspired seeing my own daughter claim her own voice and identify herself as a feminist at the age of 21.