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Women’s Day lecture and discussion with Tsitsi Dangarembga

Zimbabwean author, filmmaker, poet and activist, Tsitsi Dangarembga, will deliver the keynote speaker and participate in an inter-generational panel discussion that will reflect on and debate Women Activism in Africa, asking the question of whether Feminism is Divisive, unAfrican and anti-Black?

An excerpt from the concept note:

Within the African continent, the history of black women’s activism and resistance is often relayed via the lens of slavery, colonialism and/or apartheid. During the struggle for national liberation on the continent, women’s issues were often dismissed and deferred as it was assumed there were other, more pressing issues such as race and national sovereignty that must be pursued.

In South Africa, the transitional period towards independence ushered in a highly progressive constitution that has been hailed as the best (at least on paper) in terms of gender equality on the continent. However, it was during this same period that women’s collective nationalist activism degenerated as it was assumed that the newly reformed policies and legislations would improve living conditions for women as a favourable, seemingly pro-woman government was put in place. The collective activism such as the one witnessed during the 1956 Women’s March and the in the trade unions were gradually lost.

However, two decades after independence we have witnessed public outrage, protests and resistance by women … Female students within the #Fallist movements at universities exposed various ills such as police brutality, misogyny and rape.

It is against this background that the 2017 International Women’s day celebration seeks to interrogate the different narratives and thoughts about black feminism. This will help steer debate and advance struggle for black women. Is feminism/black feminism a divisive tool used by white supremacists? Why are feminists feared within the black struggle against white supremacy, and what can we learn from this? What role should feminists play within the black radical movements? What forms of resistance should they consider? How should black feminists maintain a balance, if any, in their fight against multiple oppressions without compromising the struggle against white supremacy which continues to be an integral part of the post-apartheid state?

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