A study which looks at women’s organizations in Africa from various perspectives, including those which seeks “ways of seeing and knowing that move forward a feminist agenda,” and celebrates the experiences of being “woven in the text."
This study is an effort to seek a deeper understanding of women's organizations in Africa, with the belief that understanding informs action. This search proceeds through several phases. First, I discuss how the way we "see" organizations influences how we work with them and create them. Starting with that idea, I develop a rationale for trying to view women's organizations from multiple perspectives, just as we increase our understanding of a sculpture by viewing from various angles and in various lights. Second, I delineate four broad and interconnected ways of seeing women in society, evident in literature relevant to studying African women.
These ways of seeing are:
- woman's sphere and woman's power
- gender-class relationships
- ideology and consciousness
- women's voices
For each way of seeing, I evaluate what it contributes to understanding African women's experience, and discuss the implications it holds for analyzing women's organizations. Finally I discuss what insights the four ways of seeing might offer to those who work with women's organizations.
In looking at women's organizations, and at the frameworks that help us understand them, I am seeking ways of seeing and knowing that move forward a feminist agenda defined in these terms, and celebrate the experiences of being a woman in all their variety.
Center for International Education