Global Sisterhood or Global Hegemony?: A Theoretical Deconstruction of the Western-led Transnational Feminist Movement in Africa

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Irena Marion Smith


Feminism, as an ideology and a movement, has for decades improved the lives of women around the globe. However, despite feminism’s essentially emancipatory role, its positive effects have not been equally felt or interpreted by all women who have come in contact with it. This paper explores transnational feminist discourses rooted in the Western world and directed at the women of Africa. It argues that when the power imbalances between Western and African women are not properly addressed, feminism can be used to shield existing and re-create harmful, colonial discourses about cultural hierarchy and normativity. It concludes that for feminism to fulfill its full and positive potential, the intersectionality of African women’s identities needs to be addressed and privileged by Western feminists.