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Gendered violence and women’s citizenship in Africa
2014-05-23

 
Prof Takyiwaa Manuh

Prof Takyiwaa Manuh celebrated both Africa Day and her birthday with the UFS on 22 May 2014.

Being the guest speaker at the Africa Day Memorial Lecture, Prof Manuh discussed how gendered violence and the lack of women’s true citizenship in Africa still hinder the Pan-African ideal. She asked the question: if African issues get less worldwide attention, how much less attention do African women get?

“Africa Day offers us an opportunity to revisit the Pan-African ideal and aspiration for total national liberation, equality and self-worth,” Prof Manuh said.

“This ideal has envisaged full citizenship with the enjoyment of rights and resources for the people of Africa to live a dignified and fulfilling life. Yet, the conceptions of citizenship that have emerged in several African countries do not fully incorporate women and girls.”

The lecture explored the policing of women’s bodies and sexualities and how their enjoyment of rights is undermined – often under the pretext of culture. Often families, communities, states, religious bodies and culture work collaboratively to mold African women into the patriarchal image of disciplined and virtuous. The epidemic of violence against females negates their fundamental human rights and their claim to full citizenship and protection within their states.

The lecture also reviewed recent efforts including law reform, legislation and actions by activists. “The African Union and the UN need to confront these violations and suggest a robust agenda for more effective exercise of women’s citizenship rights and convergence towards the Pan-African ideal.”

Prof Manuh is currently Director: Social Development Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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