I am a Zimbabwean feminist currently living in South Africa. I call myself a feminist because I believe in the equality of all humans and especially equality of the sexes. I have devoted most of my professional and personal life to the fight against the oppression of women. The main way to achieve the liberation and emancipation of women is fighting patriarchy and all oppressive institutions both in the public and private spheres of life.
One of the challenges that African feminists face today is that feminist work is highly diluted by gender- speak. This means that there is less confrontation of issues such as power. African feminists also continue to confront negative labeling such as ‘rebels’ and ‘anti-establishment’ and in some cases being out rightly dismissed as peddlers of ‘Western’ ideas. Another challenge is inadequate resources to carry out serious transformative work to challenge inequalities between sexes. There are seriously negative political, social and economic situations prevailing in any African countries eroding gains for equality and making further work more difficult.
In my own personal and professional life I have addressed these challenges by showing and demonstrating to communities I work and live with that the fundamentals about human rights and human dignity are universal and equally applicable to everyone regardless of sex and the many other diversities that we have as humans. In my previous role as Regional Program Officer for HIVOS, I worked to make resources available for women’s rights work and especially support for young upcoming feminists. Currently I am working as a freelance legal feminist and human rights consultant and continuing to challenge the status quo. In Zimbabwe I have worked with other feminists to challenge the political and economic deterioration of the past ten years.
To strengthen the feminist movement, we need to regularly link and share information through different forums physical and on-line; mentoring and supporting young women feminists; and hold deliberate discussions about power, oppression, feminism and what all this means in the African context.
I am inspired by the chance and possibility of making positive changes to women’s lives. I have seen changes in women through simple interventions such as legal/rights literacy, awareness-raising, and provision of legal aid to abused and battered women. I also have seen changes being made through complex, dangerous political actions such as challenging politicians, structures of patriarchy publicly as well as public condemnation of violations of women’s rights. I am also inspired by other feminists who tirelessly work to make a difference and by the positive changes in their own personal lives. My own life also inspires me- what I have managed to achieve and do because of the work and sacrifices of other feminists including my mom.