Women and Youth in Africa: Is your Silence and Self Censorship Increasing?

According to survey findings by Afrobarometer, civic engagement by African youth is decreasing, especially among young women. Interest in public affairs has declined substantially, from 81% in 2002 to 58% in 2015. Systematic manipulation through social institutions like Education, Politics, and Mass media, is used to maintain status quo. Individuals grow up thinking social action is blocked by government policies, which disconnects the community on the ground from the government leaders. People lose trust and develop a culture of self-imposed silence.

Women and Gender Parity: The Role of Education and Politics

This silence can be traced back to Gender Inequality. Africa’s heavily patriarchal society still supports stereotypes and discrimination towards women and the other gender identities.

Gender Parity is a fundamental human right but it is still challenging for girls and women to access education, employment, and political representation. As a result, women in Kenya are still not receiving equal pay for work of equal value. They are mostly the victims of rape, violence, sex slavery, poor parliamentary representation and child marriage. A defective education system worsens the situation by perpetuating gender stereotypes and forcing people to occupy socially constructed gender roles.

“The gender gap builds up social, political and economic barriers to Social Change for Women.”

Fatuma is a metaphor representing Kenya, which gained independence more than 50 years ago. Fatuma also symbolizes people who don’t raise their voice against social issues affecting them as well as others. We intentionally gave our organization the name Fatuma, which is associated with the female gender. This was a statement in acknowledgment of the gender gap that builds up social, political and economic barriers to change. Just like Fatuma, people have been forced into silence since birth.

Fatuma’s Voice focuses on people who want to foster gradual and sustainable change, using simple and creative avenues like open debates, political art, conscious music, expressive dance and social-issue based theatre. We identify these people through community outreach programs and stimulate their desire to address social issues.

Shailja Patel on the International Women’s Day

Shailja Patel is a Kenyan author, internationally acclaimed poet, playwright and activist. She is well known for MIGRITUDE, which you can BUY HERE, is  a number 1 Amazon Bestseller in Asian Poetry. Through MIGRITUDE, Shailja Patel weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of violence, colonization, and love, to create an achingly beautiful portrait of women’s lives and migrant journeys undertaken in the boot print of Empire.

On the International Women’s Day, she posted the following tweet that traveled around the world and got people talking.

(Do you think it is time for the talk to turn into action?)

Read women.
Cite women.
Credit women.
Teach women.
Publish women.
Present women.
Acknowledge women.
Award women.
Amplify women.
Hire women.
Support women.
Promote women.
Hear women.
Believe women.
Follow women.
Pay women.
Pay women.
Pay women.

Women and Youth in Africa: Migritude by Shailja Patel

Women and Youth in Africa: Is your Silence and Self Censorship Increasing?