Feminism: What Does the African Culture Say?

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The world generally has been conceived as a ‘man’s world’. This has been evident in the series and chains of political, social, religious, and economic events that have occasioned the world, where women generally are seen as second-fiddle to the men who obviously assume women were created inferior being.

A school of thought came about to oppose this general conception that sees women as second class citizens. This school of thought championed by radical women all over the globe was known as feminism. Feminism according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as the “theory of political, economic, and social equality of sexes”. Feminism entails a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that shares common goals to define and establish the political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes. It incorporates the position that the society prioritizes the male point of view whereas that of the female gender is treated unfairly with contempt in the society.

Gender is about the maleness and femaleness of a person. Whereas gender equality argues for the equal rights of both gender. Feminism therefore holds that the tradition of unfair treatment to the ideas and opinions of women in the society must be stopped and consequently, equal regards must be given to both men and women in the society.

Charles Fourier, a utopian socialist and French philosopher are credited with having coined the word ‘feminism’ in 1837. Subsequently, the word feminism first appeared in France and Netherlands in the 1890s and the United States in 1910. In the western part of the world, Feminism has thrived as an ideology and as a strong movement. Conversely in Africa, feminism could be equated to the primitive stage of W. W Rostow’s stages of development. This is because African culture does not indoctrinate the theory of equality between a man and a woman. For Instance, in most African traditional society, there are very quintessential rituals and traditions that abhors in totality the presence and participation of women. A typical example is the Igbos ancestral custom which does not permit a woman to break a kola nut amongst the litany of other traditions that had been gotten from the African ancestral descent.              

It then goes to say that whether women should be allowed to take part in these ‘forbidden’ ancient customs as feminism proposes remains a hard nut to crack for many scholars. But the fact remains that African culture and ideologies sees feminism as ‘Un –Africa’, this entails that African culture sees women to have some natural condescending roles and obligations they play in the family such as; child-bearing, domestic chores, farming and other peripheral works. This clearly exposes the fact that African culture does not accept the notion of Feminism.

In any event, it is rational to think that women deserve some decency of equal chance and opportunity as the men, and these opportunities should be exposed to the girl-child at a very tender age in order to avoid future discrepancies. Women should be given the equal opportunity as men; the affirmative action should be enacted properly to incorporate women in the society. In the words of Chimamanda Adichie, “a feminist is a man or a woman, who says there is a problem with gender as there is today and we must fix it, we must to better”

A lot of women, as a matter of fact, had taken the world by surprise and shown their remarkable qualities. Women like Teresa May, Margaret Thatcher ,Angela Merkel, Ngozi  Okonjo-ideal, Farida Waziri, Folorunsho Alakija, Dambisa Moyo, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Isabel dos Santos, Chimamanda  Ngozi Adichie, among many others have shown astute character and persistence with laudable character and temerity to change the opinion of the world on the stance of women.

In conclusion, every person should accept that women are as human as men, and must, therefore, be given a chance to express their opinions in society. A woman should not be conceived as a property to be owned or as an inferior type of human. For ages, we have been ruled by men, but today, feminism asks us to give equal chance to women to help build a better world and this must come with acceptance by all. 


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