I live in Lagos, Nigeria. For the past 35 years, I have been an activist for social justice; I helped to build the radical student’s movement in the country in the 1980s and I’m active in the pro-democracy and working class struggles. I am the founding Director of Community Life Project (CLP), which is a Non-Governmental organisation promoting participatory, holistic grassroots development. We work on issues of health, livelihood and governance. The majority of our people are marginalised from the development and governance processes and public policies and programmes don’t often serve their interest. Through advocacy and training, we help government agencies become more participatory and responsive. More importantly, we build the capacity of grassroots people to have personal agency and take independent action to improve their quality of life. We provide the knowledge and skills necessary for people to find their voice and use it to make government more democratic and accountable.
I am a feminist because I believe in the full person-hood of women. I am angry that society allows women to be treated as second-class, subordinate beings. I work from a women’s rights and human rights perspective.
The need to fundamentally improve the status and living conditions of the majority of African women is the major challenge facing us as African feminists today. While the work of women’s movements all over the world has resulted in some gains for women everywhere, the majority of women in Africa still lack access to education, healthcare, financial capital and land. As African feminists we have to devise ways and means to positively transform this situation over the next two decades. Secondly, our movement is still largely elitist and dominated by those of us who have been privileged to receive good formal education. It is most desirable to open the space a lot more for the participation of young girls and to synergise our work with the struggles of women at the grassroots. In addition to this, we need to encourage programmes challenging patriarchal and macho values that target men, boys, and women gatekeepers in our communities. We have the advantage of the African Feminist Charter which is a tool that can be used to engage the Ministries of Women Affairs all over Africa. We should also get buy-in from large women’s networks, including faith-based women networks.
In my personal and professional life I have tried to raise my children without sexist prejudices and to instill feminist consciousness in them. I ensure that grassroots women are a significant part of my social network and that we work with, organised, trade-based, self-help women’s groups.
I am inspired by the success of past struggles for women’s rights, class and racial justice such as the struggle for universal adult suffrage, majority rule in South Africa, access to land by Cuban peasants. They help me not to feel overwhelmed by the forces of injustice and oppression. I am inspired by the sun-set, the sheer immensity of the ocean, blooming flowers and the shedding of leaves by trees, little wonders and beauties of creation. They are reminders that the world renews itself and bring hope that change will definitely come to women and all the downtrodden peoples of the world. I only need to stay feminist, keep going and never quit.