FEMINISM AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF THE AFRICAN WOMAN A CASE OF LESOTHO

 

Dr Palesa Mosetse & Mr Tankie Khalanyane (National University of Lesotho)

In the book, "PUBLIC POLICY TRANSFORMATIONS
IN AFRICA, Edited by, Joseph Misati Akuma, Enna Sukutai Gudhlanga andEzekiel Mbitha Mwenzwa

Introduction

The 1960s saw the intensification of women’s movements in the western world which had started in the 19th century, where women were asserting their inclusion into the governance issues of their countries. Women were claiming equality in rights as men under the liberal ideals of democracy and
equality of citizens. They were highly influenced by the French Revolution of 1789 where the French Republicans guillotined the king for not embracing and espousing liberal democratic ideals of equality, fraternity and brotherhood. The Western women were also influenced by the Civil Rights Movements in America where Afro-Americans were fighting for recognition and inclusion as free citizens with inalienable rights like the
rest of the citizens of the country. Having achieved universal suffrage in their respective countries in the West, the proponents of women’s movements, especially feminists became eager to widen their movement and include all women across the globe.

This chapter therefore argues that Western feminism cannot empower an African woman and in particular a Mosotho woman because due to its universalizing tendencies like any other modernity projects, feminism ignores the specific context in which women live, it does not address pointedly the problems faced by Basotho women and it uses Western lens
only in analyzing women’s issues. In order to address the central argument of this chapter, it deals with the concept of power and empowerment and the various strands of feminism. Finally, the role of women in Africa and in particular Lesotho is articulated and arguments on why feminism cannot empower women in Lesotho.