African feminist theology

Authored by: Alice Yafeh-Deigh

The Routledge Handbook of African Theology

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138092303
eBook ISBN: 9781315107561
Adobe ISBN:


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There are multifaceted strands of feminism in Africa. Located alongside the broader praxis-oriented frameworks of African (male) liberation theology, global feminist discourse, and feminist theology, African feminism is born out of African women’s unique socio-political and religious struggles against interlocking systems of oppression (gender, class, race, sexuality, etc.). Despite there being numerous multilayered concerns and emphases, African feminism operates from the core premise that both culture and religion oppress African women. Secular and religious feminists alike are thus primarily concerned with gender inequalities and the various institutions that perpetuate violence against women. In their rationalization, advocacy for women’s rights is legitimated by the fact that such oppressions constitute fundamental human rights violations. As former First Lady Hillary Clinton said, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” 1 It is important to note that in this chapter, I focus exclusively on feminist theologies in Africa; my analyses do not encompass the whole of African feminism’s diverse spectrum. I begin with a preliminary note on feminist terminology, including suggested qualifiers such as “womanism” and “intersectional feminism.” I then trace the development of feminist theologies in Africa within the framework of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (the Circle), whose origins and current status also prove pertinent to the discussion.

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