Women’s rights in Africa still remain a utopian fairy-tale. African women continue to face domestic violence and heavy labor burdens. Widespread poverty in its turn adds up their concerns.
Regardless thousands of marches and campaigns in the name of equality, women fail to fully enjoy their rights worldwide. Several amendments have changed the situation dramatically. But the global population has a long way to go.
The Dark Continent has made larger steps to avoid human rights’ violation as well. However, women’s rights in Africa are declining. The issue can have various reasons, starting from higher illiteracy level to early marriages.
The famous civil rights movement which took place at the beginning of the 20th century was a good soil to complete all the improvements. Due to it, there is some good news. In 2003, for instance, the African Union adopted the Maputo Protocol which expands legal protection for women’s rights in Africa.
Besides, many NGOs and individual activists go to the bitter end to spread awareness about the importance of human rights. To get wind of the condition of African women’s rights let’s check out the historical ups and downs of Africa and listen to the African iconic female activists.
Overview of Women’s Rights in Africa
Female participation in the legislation is a serious step toward more developed society. Besides, there are provisions on sexual and gender-based violence, economic, social and cultural rights and a principle of non-discrimination in constitutions, policies and in legislation across the continent. Anyway, women’s rights in Africa need further developments.
And the decline is not only about less access to education or healthcare. The figures gained through the research will make everyone speechless. In Africa, 1 in 3 women experiences either physical and sexual violence in her lifetime. More than 36.6% of African women report having experienced physical violence.
These numbers are really big and there is nothing left to comment on after it. The numbers just leave one thing to say: Pull yourselves together, men! You won’t be able to hold the whole sky by yourselves.
Examples of Violations of Women’s Rights in Africa
The legislation is a power to control every transgression. It seems that one can rely on civil and criminal codes. But that is not the case in Africa. Not everyone in Africa can enjoy the protection of laws. Moreover, women take hard times to avoid violations. Shocked?
How about six African countries that have no legal protection for women against domestic violence? Besides, in the ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage, nine are located in Africa.
Early marriages are another violation of women’s rights in Africa. This is quite common, especially in rural areas. Moreover, such practice has a very negative impact on women and girls. But the only justification is based on traditional, religious, cultural or economic grounds.
Anyway, several African countries have amended or abolished laws that discriminate against women. Many legal systems with various customary laws on personal status and family continue to provide the basis for discrimination against women.
Women’s Rights in Africa: Listening to the Most Powerful African Voices
Even though the situation of women’s rights in Africa is far from being called ideal, women in many African countries have increased their representation in local parliaments. But it is not enough. The continent itself is very diverse. This is why the problems become very complex.
However, the presence of women in parliaments has made a difference in the adoption of gender-sensitive policies. Due to the pressure from women, some countries adopted affirmative action policies, such as quotas, to increase the number of women in decision-making positions and boardrooms.
But this goal has been achieved not only due to women politicians. Many African female activists, considering the risks of public failure, brought changes to this continent. Let’s have a look at several iconic African women activists who shaped both African and world history in general.
Activists #1: Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
One can name very few African activists who had a huge impact on everybody. When the second wave of feminism began to take form in the West, woman nationalist, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, started spreading feminist waves in Nigeria.
Through her feministic and democratic socialism, she created “The Abeokuta Women’s Union” and “Women’s International Democratic Federation“.
Through these organizations and movement, Kuti promoted women’s rights in Africa. She stressed the importance of education, employment and to political participation.
Activists #2: Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba is known as the mother of Africa. And this is no coincidence. Mama Africa or Miriam Makeba was an outspoken and visible opponent of South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Makeba was not only involved in radical activity against apartheid, but also in the civil rights movement. She fought for black power as well.
Activists #3: Alice Walker
When she was born after the horrific events of WWII in 1944, Alice Walker grew to become a writer and lead the top of African activists who brought a huge change. She launched the Black Feminist Movement. The movement was later called Womanism.
In her essay “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden,” she defines Womanism as a reaction to a feminism that applies not only to black women into consideration. According to her Womanism is defines as:
Womanist is a black feminist or feminist of color. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered”good” for one. Responsible. In charge. Serious.
Besides the movement, Walker is known for her novel “The Color Purple” as well. The book about overcoming racism and misogyny enforced by the culture of the South. Through her novels and poems, the activist addressed social justice issues such as sexism and violence.
Women Right’s in Africa and Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther-King’s Dream VS Reality
The Civil War in the USA officially stamped out slavery, but the discrimination against Africans remained. For the first time, Africans started fighting for their rights out of Africa. Both black women and men had to confront racism especially in South of the US. By the mid-20th century, prejudice and violence against them had grown bigger. All they could do was to fight for equality.
The civil rights movement was the result of that fight. It was a struggle for social justice that was around nearly two decades. The movement took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s. The blacks wanted to gain equal rights under the law in the United States.
Actually, there are a lot of people who contributed to the movement. However, Martin Luther King’s contribution was enormous. This civil rights activist was influenced by the passive resistance ideas of Gandhi and became convinced that the same methods could be used by African Americans to obtain their civil rights. He just had a dream of equal and peaceful society.
Martin Luther King believed that direct, non-violent protest action would force whites to face discrimination laws. He made it widely accepted that people use peaceful protest to force changes.
Many white people supported him and joined the protests. Protests were often met with police and public violence, however. Unfortunately, many people died, but King did not support using violence as a form of resistance.
More than three decades have passed since the day of his inspiring speech. So what do we have? Has his dream come true? A lot of changes have taken place. But the reality is that women’s rights in Africa are far from being called equal. Moreover, black people still face prejudice and violence.
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