People in the world over are still struggling to end gender inequality. This is because gender equality is clearly a fundamental human right and essential to achieve peaceful societies for sustainable development. Feminism movement was created to end inequality.
Tanzania is part of the developing nations having feminist movements, since 1993. In December last year, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) Mtandao in collaboration with The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Tanzania launched a forum for critical reflection and action for feminists from diverse societal spheres and backgrounds in Tanzania.
According to FES Website, higher learning institutions, women’s rights organisations, trade unions, private sector, media, knowledge centres, youth initiatives, CSO’s, Creative arts and women Forums (GDSSS) planned to create a continuous safe space where women activists can reflect issues regarding gender equality, women and girl’s rights.
The new challenge
However, it seems feminists are now facing a new challenge if what Candace Owen, a popular US political activist is anything to go by - she pointed out that feminism is a scam. Speaking during USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit recently, she stated that she discovered that feminism is a scam and is not about uplifting women but tearing women down and hence she has changed her stance.
She said a college course — Feminism 101 — made her realize that feminism was not for her and added that feminism is a scam.
“Really, if you want to see something toxic, tell a feminist — who says they support every idea a woman has — tell a feminist that you’re not a feminist and see what happens. See the way that you get treated,” she continued.
“I can’t think of women that are nastier and meaner than the ones who exist under these pussy hats, right?” She added.
She told the crowd about an upsetting comment she read online after having a conversation on the dangers of feminism.
The comment was from a 55-year-old woman who said she fell for the modern day feminist lies, leaving her with no children and forcing her to take medication regularly.
“If there’s anything I could go back and do, I would’ve warned myself against the scam of feminism,” the woman wrote.
She said telling women, ‘You don’t need a man. You don’t need anyone. You should want to do everything by yourself. And if you aspire toward nature, then something is wrong with you. “If you want to see something toxic, tell a feminist who says they support every idea a woman has, tell a feminist that you’re not a feminist and see what happens. See the way that you get treated. That is why I believe feminism is a scam, it’s not about uplifting women. It’s about tearing women down,” She said.
Feminism in Tanzania
Reacting to Owen’s statement, TGNP Mtandao programme officer Deogratias Temba said the challenge that femists might be facing is that some members of the society are not ready to agree with the feminists.
“Feminists don’t want to see women and girls getting trouble of inequality once they get to know they have rights.” He pointed out that feminists are not the problem but some people who have sweeping generalizations about feminism.
“Since feminists get to know their rights, so the mind set of some men is, if one get married to such a person, they fear that she might apply everything to seek her rights in marriage,”he says.
Temba says since feminism gained its momentum during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, which carried the purpose of Action for Equality, Development and Peace, it has changed over the years.
“New changes have passed up to this moment through the movement either legally and mindsets from moral and cultural beliefs and practices including land and property ownerships, social equalities in education and many others. We have currently seen new feminists compared to old ones,” he says with no further elaboration.
Human rights activist, Bahati Mandago says as an experienced woman, most of men have no capacity to receive challenges positively in their relationships, so it doesn’t matter whether a feminists or other woman regardless of the position she has, man will get inferior.
“In such circumstances, the relationship will depend on wisdom from both two sides otherwise such relationship will never get far. For example a woman can decide and do something in the relationship positively but a man will judge a decision taken because of her position, ”she says.
Family and feminism
“Maybe you are living with a husband who is totally holding traditional values but you will never survive in the relationship if you will never internalize your knowledge you got through feminism,”
“No need to apply a legal book to seek rights in relationship when you see you have to balance. Just as we have people put blame on the Bible or reffering to it all the time.
Chadema’s Dar es Salaam Secretary, Mr Henry Kilewo says most of the feminists in Tanzania have failed to separates tasks when they are working on either feminism or family issues.
“Generally, the only challenge I experience is that most of the feminists unknowingly do not to separate issues of movements and family, this will either cost most of them in relationship, they don’t know how to control their tasks.”
“They have to know when they are in relationship and when they are in feminism movement, they have to go back and see such important area that could either save lots of them.”
Hussein Sengasu, 32, from Tabata is not ready to control a feminist and currently is about to get married to a Standard Sßeven dropout.
“I don’t care about her level of education but I believe she is very humble, this is because I got issues with well educated women,” he says.
Human nature vs feminism
Bahati says there is another new challenge to upcoming feminists. It is about the content produced by feminists when mentoring women and girls.
“Most of them are mentoring others by using their own true stories about failed relationships. They try to impose anger, bitterness and confusion so audiences consume content as it is presented, this is too common with many feminists.” Charles Nduku, a psychologist says feminism has made an impact by decreasing demands of men through the equality movement. The movement aims to the point of great sense of equality which is very dangerous to human nature.
Secondly, feminism movement seek to create a great sense of determination which could be a threat to most of men, according to their nature. “But psychosocial perspective says a man naturally always tend to be a leader, they don’t need any assistance, it is culturally constructed how men perceive each other,” he says.
“The problem most of the feminists currently are fighting against nature, that will never win. A feminist who will always fight against the nature of man will survive in a relations with few educated husbands. They have to fight against social contract,” he says.
Generally, Nduku who is newly married says having a common definition of gender equality at the global context could be one of the big challenge to feminists.
“The movement is too common at the global level but the context of gender equality is cutting across the boundaries between one country to another, so it is very difficult to define a women at the global context because we differ how we men perceive women in the society, there is need to agree since from local community, at national level, region before going to global, “he says.