Youth-Hood, Gender and Feminist Dissent
Awino Okech ()
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Awino Okech: SOAS University of London
A chapter in Gender, Protests and Political Change in Africa, 2020, pp 13-34 from Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract One way of reading the fact that protests have become a feature of Africa’s political life is to see it as young people’s desire for freedom from Uhuru leaders. Uhuru leaders represent those who took power immediately after flag independence and the generation of leaders who were born at the height of Africa’s flag democracies who have now been co-opted into formal power through a system of patron-client politics. While the streets epitomise a unified approach to the challenges of democratisation, the post-uprising space has led to massive reversals in women’s rights. These public reversals are evident in new laws, which reintroduce conservative interpretations of women’s rights by re-constructing gender roles in addition to the overt violence that women and girls experience in the public protest space. Through examples of feminist protest action organised to challenge violence against women and the misogyny that accompanies it, I illustrate how dissenting feminists carve space to successfully challenge patriarchy one case at a time. I pay attention to the strategies that feminist activists used to build momentum. In doing so, I excavate the patriarchal discourses that sustain and subvert women’s freedom. These patriarchal discourses mobilise youth-hood and modernity as a basis to contest the changing nature of gender power relations. In examining these continuities of violence against feminists in online and offline spaces, the objective is to trace the technologies of violence that patriarchy relies on to reproduce itself and therefore reverse freedoms for women.
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