A Discourse on the Legacy of Colonialism for Women in Africa
Posted: 23 Feb 2018 Last revised: 11 Dec 2018
Date Written: February 23, 2018
The emerging concept of Gender Based Violence (GBV); the many forms of violence committed against women and girls, is among the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. A 2017 United Nations report on conflict-related sexual violence notes that “sexual violence continues to be employed as a tactic of war, with widespread and strategic rapes, including mass rapes, allegedly committed by several parties to armed conflict, mostly in conjunction with other crimes such as killing, looting, pillage, forced displacement and arbitrary detention” (UN Security Council, 2017, p. 5). The violence that targets women, in turn, undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its victims. In this paper I analyze two perspectives on women in Africa and in the west beyond an analysis of GBV, to focus on a discussion of the role and place of women and how it was framed under colonial governance and the implications that these transformations had on how we make sense of the place of women in society today. I will first discuss and review literature on the impact of colonialism in Africa, followed by a critique of the feminist theory in the west and then provide an alternative discourse on the study of women in the African context. The alternative to the western narrative that dominates scholarship on women’s history in Europe and the United States is offered by Ife Amadiume and Oyeronke Oyewumi’s scholarly contributions. Both scholars offer an alternative which has been ignored in the west and demonstrates that the ideology of the struggle for women in the west has failed to take into account the distinctive socio-historical context of women’s role and their place in African societies.
Keywords: Ife Amadiume, Oyeronke Oyewumi, Colonialism, Gender Discourse, Biological Sex, Feminism, Women in Africa, Gender Based Violence
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