A critical discussion of African Feminism as an exponent of Feminist Theory

Seminar Paper, 2008

6 Pages, Grade: 80 Prozent



1. Introduction

2. Definitions
2.1. Feminist Theory
2.2. African Feminism

3. Differences to other theories

4. Similarities

5. Conclusion


1. Introduction

Feminism isn’t the same everywhere.

As the idea of equality between men and women spread around the globe, a fragmentation could be observed. Not everywhere were the concepts and images, created by American middle-class feminists, as well applicable and appropriate as in their original setting. The development of a Black feminism followed and was further challenged by the emergence of an African subdivision, which introduced new perspectives of colour, race, ethnicity and sexuality to the debate (Maerten 2004: 1).

The question arises if African feminism can be seen as an exponent to feminist theory as for instance liberal or radical feminism. Is the focusing on a particular group of people by region or ethnicity in the same way a valid division of an approach as the dissection for the reason of differing goals?

In this paper the author wants to discuss the position of African feminism within the entire concept. After defining the two major terms feminist theory and African Feminism, a general register of the differences as well as the similarities mean to draw an important comparison between the different perspectives. The final part will provide a review of the mentioned aspects of the debate to lead the reader to a position, where he can draw his own conclusions and opinions from.

2. Definitions

2.1. Feminist Theory

Feminism can be defined as a shared contemplation and advocacy of equality between men and women.

The feminist theory sees its purpose in challenging the assessment of positions and experiences of women, as well as society and social interaction by male bias. It supports women’s rights as well as linked issues. Furthermore it criticises unequal social relations. The understanding of particular social behaviour, the awareness of male dominance and the observation of a situation through various angles and viewpoints have been achievements of the feminist theory.

The feminist perception is moreover divided into a variety of different approaches like the liberal and radical feminism.

2.2. African Feminism

Within the process of fragmentation developed the distinct African feminist theory. It defined its own unique goals as opposing the approach by white American middle-class women. As distinct to black feminism, the new perspective shows that not just African American females have a different starting point than the “original” feminists, but also women from third-world Countries. It therefore justifies the existence of feminisms indigenous to third-world nations and counteracts the evolved ethnocentrism within the concept. Even though the main issues of opposing patriarchy, gender subjugation and exploitation are still being shared, African feminism puts an emphasis on Africa and the particular position and situation of the women on the continent, in spite of their particular ethnic groupings to create a standard agenda (Toure, Cellou Barry, Diallo 2003: 2). This also needs a realistic portrayal of women of non-Western societies to act against the image of passive and voiceless victims in comparison to the illustration of Western females as modern, educated and empowered.

The African approach addresses particularly the gender discrimination in the working sphere as a political imperative imposed and reinforced by development aid, which encourages the employment of women in low level and low skilled jobs. It also demands the progress of spaces for women to contribute in the running of their societies (Maerten 2004: 5). This contains empowering women through admission to assets such as health, education and housing.


Excerpt out of 6 pages


A critical discussion of African Feminism as an exponent of Feminist Theory
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  (School of Governmental and Social Science)
Seminar: Women in Africa
80 Prozent
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
351 KB
African, Feminism, Feminist, Theory, Seminar, Women, Africa
Quote paper
Anna Ihle (Author), 2008, A critical discussion of African Feminism as an exponent of Feminist Theory, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/123938


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