Africa Talks: The future of African feminist activism

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Contributor(s): Professor Amina Mama, Dr Siphokazi Magadla | The coronavirus pandemic has magnified existing inequalities, particularly along lines of gender. In Africa, like in other regions around the world, containment measures including lockdowns, confinement and drastic reductions in sociability have significantly impacted women. Access to paid work and sustainable livelihoods has been significantly disrupted, rates of domestic violence have increased, and access to reproductive healthcare has been seriously curtailed, which points to wider social, economic and emotional breakdowns. But this crisis has also spawned new types of activism and social networks in support of local communities, especially the most vulnerable, with potentially the grounds for long-lasting change. While African women have and continue to set new standards for women’s political leadership globally, many citizens are disappointed by decades of government inaction, where gender and women’s programmes are often underfunded, and international aid overlooks local needs. So how are the current challenges understood? Will grassroots activism be able to address the scale and foster meaningful change? This event examines the long history of feminist activism in Africa and its enduring impact on society from an intergenerational perspective. At this critical historic juncture, speakers interrogate current achievements and fault lines as well as the crucial future of African feminist activism. Dr Siphokazi Magadla is a Senior Lecturer in the Political and International Studies department at Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa. She was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Ohio University, USA. Her PhD examined the state assisted integration of women ex-combatants into civilian life in post-apartheid South Africa. She teaches and researches on post-colonial/civil wars and militarism in Africa; demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration processes in Africa; South African foreign policy; African feminisms, gender and citizenship in South Africa. She was a fellow of the Social Science Research Council’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship Program in 2013-2014, which she currently serves as a mentor since 2017. She is the current Board member and Book Review Editor of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies. In 2018, she served in the Presidential High-Level Review Panel of the State Security Agency. She was awarded the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018. Her most recent publication is Theorizing African Women and Girls in Combat: From National Liberation to the War on Terrorism (2020) in The Palgrave Handbook of African Women’s Studies. She is currently completing a manuscript on women and the armed struggle in South Africa. Amina Mama is a Nigerian-British writer, feminist and academic. Her main areas of focus have been post-colonial, militarist and gender issues. She has lived in Africa, Europe, and North America, and worked to build relationships between feminist intellectuals across the globe. Alcinda Honwana is Strategic Director at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa and Centennial Professor at the Department of International Development. She is also a Visiting Professor of Anthropology and International Development at the Open University, where she held a Chair in International Development. The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (@AfricaAtLSE) promotes independent academic research and teaching; open and issue-oriented debate; and evidence-based policy making. The Centre connects social sciences disciplines and works in partnership with Africa to bring African voices to global debates. Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEAfrica

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