Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

Gambia: Think Feminism

Published Date: 
Friday, June 20, 2014

Some would call me ‘unsexy’,’ uncool’ and brutally hardcore but Yes, I am a feminist and I am not sorry about it. I was born one, I have always been one but maybe I just needed a push to tilt my head above the “surface” and realize that I will be sinking if I don’t defend my identity, my being a woman and the essence of my living.

Three months ago, I represented Think Young Women with a colleague at WLUML –WELDD’s Feminist LeadershipWorkshop and as cheesy as it may sound, it opened my eyes and marked the beginning of a journey that I have no regrets pursuing thus far.
Participants at the Feminist Workshop

I have been an activist all my life but mainly working in the area of children’s rights advocacy until the birth of TYW. Although we have been in the struggle for not too long and still a baby, we have taken giant strides in making our voices heard and joining the band wagon in advocating for the rights and welfare of women globally.

I feel that we all are feminists deep down but it takes a special kind of awakening to realize how amazing and fun feminism really is. Some of us have been lucky to have mothers and grandmas who have been proud and strong women who without even realizing it, were and still are feminists in their own rights but some of us(like I once used to) only know about the crappy stereotypes attached to those of us who without fear call ourselves proud feminists.
To most young women, feminism still remains ugly, radical and an illusion but the motive behind this blog post is to challenge all young women out there to take it upon themselves and find out the beauty and the spirit behind feminism.
Yoga at the beach with sisters from Somalia and London
I must confess that feminism is not a fight against the men folk, it is not a struggle for freedom, it is not a revolution, and it is not as bad as it sounds. Feminism is life itself for all women young and old, it is a way of life, it is the revival of love and support between men and women, feminism is collaboration, a partnership sealed with the promise of respect for humanity and womanhood in particular. Feminism is an acknowledgement of the efforts of women. The belief and the practice of feminism is a liberation of the mind from the perception that women are to be slaves under men, that women are baby-making machines, inferior creatures, helpless and vulnerable.
Having been born and raised in The Gambia, a society where deep rooted cultures and norms are practiced and respected even at the expense of the people, I have come to learn(as you all should) that patriarchy has somewhat played  and cheated on us. We have associated ourselves with a lot of practices that are cultural although harmful and have been blinded with the excuse that they are religious obligations.
Today I will urge us all to know the religions we practice, to study the teachings of our faith and be our own religious leaders, to be our own interpreters, to be the defenders of our own religion and to be able to draw the line between deep rooted traditional practices from religious obligations.   It is high time we know who we are and what makes us! It is time to wake up! It is time for men to accept us as partners! It is time for us to realize we are not fighting against the opposite sex! It is time to realize that we just want to be treated as humanely as possible! It is time to be feminist!
A proud Feminist

Haddy Jonga, is co-founder of Leadership Development for Young Women, Gambia and participant of the WELDD leadership workshop held in Banjul, Gambia March 2014 

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