What Does Feminism Mean to You? Three African Youth Activists Speak Out

The Fourth Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights took place in February of 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopa, and was attended by more than 300 advocates, funders and policymakers working on sexuality and reproductive health and rights in Africa and throughout the world. In this video– the first in a 3-part series– panelists on a talk show discuss the roots and role of feminism in Africa.

Priscilla Usiobaifo: If men are the head and I’m the neck, the head rests on my neck. So without my neck, the head can’t stay.

TEXT: The International Women’s Health Coalition present The Moremi Talk Show, a special panel event held at the 2010 African Federation on Sexual Health and Rights (AFSHR) Conference.  Featuring thee African youth leaders: Temitayo Oyedemi of Nigeria, Priscilla Usiobaifo of Nigeria, and Clara Nkewmi of Cameroun. Moderated by Amy Oyekunle of Nigeria.

Episode 1: What Does Feminism Mean to You?

Clara: Feminism? It’s just all about justice, equality, respect, and dignity for women.

Amy: What does that mean? We heard that word, break it down for me. We’ve heard about equality, but there are many men who already doubt, so what does it mean? I mean there are many men that say, “Ok look, women can never be equal, you can’t do the same roles, you can’t do the same things…”

Clara: But what we’re experiencing in our society nowadays is just hierarchy in all societies. But feminism is all about mutuality in the place of hierarchy.

Priscilla: I just see feminism as the politics of equality. And I see it as critically looking at it. And I see feminism from an African perspective maybe because I’m an African. And in most of our societies you can see that patriarchy exists actually it has taken it root there . I see it as a platform by which we are able to address these issues.

Temitayo: I came to realize that HIV has a feminine face.

TEXT: Temitayo is an outspoken advocate for women’s health and gender equity. A survivor of sexual violence, she discovered her status several years ago.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 61 percent of adult (ages 15+) living with HIV/AIDS are female.

Amy: Some say that feminism is a Western concept, something that was imported from America, or something that was imported from the moon. Is that true? Is that what you people are holding on to as your feminism? Is that what you are leading our young women in Africa to be like?

Clara: For me, that should not be any area of concern. Because when we look at our societies, feminism has brought about an awful lot of things: equality, cultural… Women can now go to school, we are respected, we have rights to reproductive health, and all that. I think the most productive thing is for us to start thinking about what feminism is, should, and can be for us men and women in Africa.

TEXT: Feminism: what does it mean to you?



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