African Feminisms: A New Wave of Activism


Tripp, Aili Mari. 2003. “African Feminisms: A New Wave of Activism." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, August 28-31.

Author: Aili Mari Tripp


Since the mid-1980s and especially after the early 1990s, women's organizations have increased exponentially throughout Africa as have the arenas in which women have been able to assert their varied concerns. Women are organizing locally and nationally and are networking across the continent on an unprecedented scale. They have in many countries been aggressively using the media to demand their rights in a way not evident in the early 1980s. In some countries they are taking their claims to land, inheritance, and associational autonomy to court in ways not seen in the past. Women are challenging laws and constitutions that do not uphold gender equality. In addition, they are increasingly moving into government, legislative, party, NGO, and other leadership positions previously the nearly exclusive domain of men. In these and other ways women have taken advantage of the new political openings that occurred in the 1990s, even if the openings were limited and precarious.

This second generation of activism is markedly different from the earlier post-independence generation of women's mobilization. The reasons for these shifts are varied: the rise of multipartyism and demise of military rule; the growing influence of the international women's movement; shifting donor strategies; the expansion of the use of the cell phone and the internet in the late 1990s; coupled with a significant increase in secondary and university educated women. The article explores the major changes in women's mobilization in Africa by contrasting the current women's movements with those that emerged after independence.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, NGOs Regions: Africa

Year: 2003

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at