Black Feminism, International and Unchained: A Talk with Ms. Afropolitan Part II Wednesday 07 September, 2011

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It was about this time last year that Beyoncé publicly considered herself a feminist, as a woman who respected her femininity and the power of female communities. Recognizing feminism as a lifestyle and larger commitment to ourselves and each other, Minna Salami adds to Beyoncé’s take: “Feminism is not simply about being an independent or […]

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Minna Salami

It was about this time last year that Beyoncé publicly considered herself a feminist, as a woman who respected her femininity and the power of female communities. Recognizing feminism as a lifestyle and larger commitment to ourselves and each other, Minna Salami adds to Beyoncé’s take: “Feminism is not simply about being an independent or successful woman. It is about recognizing…structures that may oppress women such as the ‘institution’ of marriage or elements of religious doctrine or music videos…My life choices have all been shaped by a conviction that gender structures should not limit personal and professional growth and that every woman should have that right.” We’re all defining what feminism means in our own lives, and as Minna suggests, the diversity of our experiences means that empowerment does not look and feel the same for every woman.

As promised, we continue last week’s discussion with Minna Salami of Ms. Afropolitan discussing African Women’s Decade, her vision of liberated African women and her own inspirations and ventures.

We are one year into the African Women’s Decade. What progress do you think we’ve made so far? What’s your vision of an empowered African woman? What suggestions do you have for how we and our readers can become more involved?

The first year has been successful. African governments have approved the Maputo Protocol, which outlines and puts women at the center of major initiatives that African countries undertake over the next 10 years, which is in itself quite an achievement.

With vast differences between urban and rural lifestyles, I think empowerment can mean very different things to different women. To one woman being empowered means being able to stay at home and look after her children, to another it means the opposite. To simplify, I’d say that if more and more women have the authority to govern over their own lives at the end of the AWD and if more institutions support that vision, then that would be a great success.

The AWD is all about working together; there isn’t some big institution that is monitoring its success. It’s really down to all of us African women on the continent and across the Diaspora to use it as a platform to create change. Ways we can help is first and foremost by staying on track with the developments, organizing fundraisers and supporting grassroots activity in other creative ways, most importantly by raising awareness. A good site to keep on track is Make Every Woman Count.

When it comes to matters of African independence and women’s empowerment, who are your radical inspirations?

Oh my, there are so many! To name a few, I’m inspired by Angela Davis for her rebellion, Gloria Steinem for her spirituality and compassion, Michele Wallace for her insights into black masculinity, Molara Ogundipe for her African feminist theories, Wangari Maathai for her discourse on the abuse of nature and women, and many more. Oh, and I should mention Thomas Sankara, his thoughts on gender equality are a true source of inspiration to me.

What about your own personal passions? Can you tell us about your ventures?

Well, I launched my online shop, MsAfropolitan Boutique, as a tribute to  African Women’s Decade. The aim is to showcase a handpicked range of products made by African Diaspora women on a rotating basis.

Fashions Featured at MsAfropolitan Boutique

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained is making friends with freedom. In order to obtain freedom we need to be in control of our lives, our bodies, and our minds. There are many obstacles in the way of freedom, even abstract things like the media messages we are surrounded by, so to live unchained we need to challenge those obstacles, not confrontationally, but with resolution.

 

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3 Comments

  • Goede informatie, hier kan ik erg veel mee bedankt!

  • Fantastic web site. A lot of helpful info here. I am sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you for your sweat!

  • samakimoto says:

    Empowerment for me is embodied by a Turkana woman from Northern Kenya (East Africa) who, faced with imminent starvation in 2012 due to flash floods that destroyed her crops in 2011, asked for the relief to come in the form of canals to prevent future disaster, because she does not just want maize to eat when she knows she can till the land and feed herself and her family… Her knowledge in the capacity she has … that is powerful.


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