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Mbokazi, Philile  (2007) 'FEMINISM FOR ACTIVISM' – DANGEROUS OCCUPATION ?.  : -.

Feminism is a movement that attempts to end sexism and sexist
exploitation, which manifest in social relations through misogynistic
tendencies and patriarchal values. These values ultimately lead to the
oppression of women in their every day life. Often the word 'feminism' is
misunderstood by ill-advised people who reduce the feminist struggle as a
meaningless attempt by women to be 'equal' to their male counterparts.
Therefore the misconceptions around feminism reflect the socialization in
our society passed on through generations and often reflected in the media,
family and institutions around us.

Feminist are made, not born. One does not become an advocate for feminism simply by having the privilege of having been born a female, one becomes a feminist through choice and action. There are male feminists. The everyday struggle that engulf women in all walks of life propel them to activism that seeks to change their social conditions. The ILRIG Globalization school theme under the banner of 'Feminism for Activist' postulated: "What is personal is Political". Indeed feminists of today seek to advance the thesis as a form of awareness creation among women that the personal struggles they encounter in their daily lives should not be devoid of political realities.

It is critical to mention that feminism is not a "*desperate
housewives club". *One of Africa's celebrated liberation hero, Samora
Machel conceded that 'The emancipation of women is not an act of charity,
the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of
women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its
continuity and the precondition for its victory'.

For Machel the concept was clear, that feminists are not out for
blood, and against men. Simply put, women should have equal rights and
access to full participation in structures of power and decision-making at
all level of governance, political parties and communities. Not as a
privilege but a right. Feminism seeks to create a functional society which
releases the potential of human beings – both male and female. Feminism
seeks to develop an alternative for everyone interested in ending all forms
of oppression.

In Zimbabwe, I derive much inspiration from feminists like Grace
Kwinjeh who have been jailed several times and tortured, but continue
to fight on in the face of much backlash from a solid block of patriarchs in
both the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. As a young South African socialist feminist , I looked with hope
that the MDC a new social liberation movement would have a heart and a place for those of my generation, especially we feminists.

After seeing the attack on Grace kwinjeh for writing an article in
support of the unfairly disbanded Women's Assembly led by trade unionist
Lucia Matibenga, I now feel differently. The attack on Matibenga from a
labour based political party for me a socialist youth speaks volumes on how
complicated our struggle against capitalism and patriarchy has

The women in the MDC are seeing regular instances of sexism and
misogyny, sadly perpetrated by would-be liberators. They have been called
'whores' and all sorts – their sexuality is under attack. Patriarchal
backlash such as this has seen increased cases of femicide –the killing of
women because they are women- especially in South Africa which has the
highest rate in the world.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), found
that; 'one South African woman is killed every six hours by a man she had
chosen to spend her life with. In 50% of all solved murders of women in the
country, it was found that the perpetrator was an intimate partner.'

But t here is hope for Zimbabwe, because the Women Of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) continue to defy crazy Bob's reprisal tactics, steadfastly continuing
the struggle against oppression and exploitation of women irrespective of
the difficult situations they have to endure.

In the Darfur region the technicalities might be different, but it is
the same scenario, women and children are raped and killed everyday. The
Sudanese women stare patriarchy in the face, in the form of Janjaweed*

Women in these situations as well as here in South Africa , are also
the most affected by globalization and neo-liberalism through privatisation
and commodification of public services like water and electricity. For
example, women are naturally care givers through the eyes of society. Thus
women offer the subsidies that the state should be providing. A female in
the rural -urban fringe is left with the task of minding the sick, while her
male counterpart or husband works in the city. Capitalism therefore is
another disruptive force that women have to deal with more than men.

The ultimate goal of all feminists, both *liberal and radical *is to
achieve the following;

There is a need to create space for women to come together.

Centre to challenge and to overthrow sexism and patriarchy.

Turn the personal into political.

Translate individual into collective struggle and action.

The crime used to be the colour of our skin. After the demise of apartheid the unpronounced crime was being a woman whether black or white. Women fought and are recognised as human beings. Women should be involved in movements or better yet encouraged to occupy key positions in leadership,with solid credentials and merit. Ultimately the moral of the story as a *Socialist feminist* is that women's struggles should not be pushed to the periphery but alongside human rights and human development struggles.

Mbokazi is a UKZN based activist & Member of Socialist Student Movement (SSM)

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