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A blogger’s intentions

December 29, 2010 4 comments

This is a blog on global perspectives of feminism, for lack of a better word. Uhuru means freedom in the Swahili language. Lady Uhuru seemed like a perfectly apt name for a blog focused on such a topic. This blog will be an exploration and reflection on how the notion of feminism is perceived and how it manifests throughout the world, particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries. How can I, as an American woman living in the UK, possibly do such a topic justice? I don’t claim I will be able to, but my intention is to write about issues relevant throughout the world in the most informed fashion possible, backed up with research, contact with other bloggers, and with guest blogger posts.

I’ve been inspired to start this blog, in part due to the many friends I have in the US and the UK who identify as feminists and also in part due to my experiences with how ‘feminism’ and ‘gender’ are perceived in places I’ve worked, particularly Malawi and Kenya. There is often still a rejection of the words feminism and gender by rural women in places such as Malawi. Both gender and feminism are considered foreign imported notions (this is clearly demonstrated by a phrase I heard frequently when I was working in Malawi: “before gender came to Malawi…”) – a notion reserved for the elites in the cities at the Ministries of Gender throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Although westerners view many Sub-Saharan African countries as rife with intense gender differentiation, ‘gender’ is still considered imported by many – the concept of gender as a discrete concept did not exist in the worldview (or indeed, the language) of many societies prior to contact with westerners. In the small town where I worked in Malawi, many rural women view the notion of feminism as an intention to enhance the status of women whilst actually lowering the status of men.  As a self-identified feminist from ‘the West,’ I was astonished by this attitude and it soon became clear that my own views on the meaning of feminism were just that – they were my OWN – and that the empowerment of women throughout the world would take a different form. Perhaps a form I wouldn’t like, agree with, or understand.

Hence, it is my intention to explore different issues throughout the world related to ‘feminism’ and ‘gender,’ down to the different interpretations and prioritisations of the notions themselves. And indeed, all of the grey areas in between.

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