Women, Equality and Citizenship in Contemporary Africa


Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

Thursday 12 Mar 2020, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Aula B
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Robtel Neajai Pailey
Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey (credit: Kate Lloyd)
Kate Lloyd

In this first of two keynote lectures co-sponsored by CERES research school and the International Institute of Social Studies, Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey will argue that while African women’s concerns about their subjective roles as equal citizens were often sidelined during nationalist liberation movements, the post-independence era has presented more meaningful opportunities for women in the continent to demand equality of access to citizenship rights, resources and representation.

Citizenship laws in different parts of Africa explicitly discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, race, and religion, with women bearing the brunt of these inequities. In particular, African women have faced structural, institutional and cultural barriers to ensuring full citizenship in policy and praxis, with contestations in the post-independence era centring around the fulfilment of citizenship rights embedded in law, practice and lived experience.

In contemporary times, a number of local, national, continental and transnational developments have shaped the contours of the battle for women’s citizenship equality, including

  • the prominence of domestic women’s movements;
  • national constitutional reviews and revisions processes; electoral quotas;
  • female labour force participation;
  • feminism as a unifying principle of gender justice.

Although African women have managed to overcome some constraints imposed on them not only by patriarchy, but also by histories of slavery, colonialism, structural adjustment, land dispossession, militarism and neoliberalism, this has certainly not been the panacea for achieving full equality of citizenship or gender justice.

This event is open to the public - no registration required.

More information

This lecture is the first of two lectures held to mark the opening of the CERES PhD Training Course and the move of CERES to the International Institute of Social Studies.

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