Resolution/Position Paper of the African Internationalist Conference on African Women


There is less than a month left until the African Internationalist Conferences on African Women in Washington, DC (March 21-22) and London, England (March 28-29), and the time to register is now. Visit apspuhuru.org/aiwomensconference.
 
These conferences will attempt to gather African women and men from all over to establish the African National Women’s Organization. We will have forums that focus on the issues faced by poor and oppressed African women and will provide avenues for these women to join the African liberation struggle.
 
It’s important to note that these conferences are being held during a month designated as Women’s History Month, which serves to highlight the contributions of women to events in history.
 
All over the world, conversations on the forward progression of women will take place. Most of these discussions, however, will happen without recognizing how imperialism and colonial domination have distorted the role of women and impacted the progress of Africans and other oppressed peoples.

There is no such thing as women “in general”
 
There is an ideological struggle being waged that seeks to single out African women’s oppression as a gender issue rather than a colonial one.
 
We recognize, no matter how vile they may be, the contradictions that occur between men and women within the oppressed African nation can be “resolved through education and persuasion, unlike the contradictions between African women and our whole nation and imperialist white power, which can only be resolved by the defeat of imperialism and the total emancipation of our whole people,” as stated in Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s Political Report to the Fifth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party.
 
We also recognize that there is no such thing as women “in general.” There is a difference between the women of the oppressor nation and women of the oppressed nation.
 
The former often reconciles differences with the men of their nation as a way to further exploit the women and men of the oppressed nation.
 
In many cases oppressor nation women use the contradictions present in the oppressed nation to deepen the colonial agenda by dividing the African nation up along gender and class lines.
 
Feminism affirms women’s rights under white power colonial domination
 
Much of feminist theory can be linked to Johann Jakob Bachofen’s work, Mother Right which compiles documented examples of the role of women in the ancient world.
 
In it, Bachofen attempts to provide evidence of how all society transitioned from a matrilineal to a patrilineal system of inheritance through religious edicts, political declarations and societal reconstruction, which essentially rendered women the property of men as a means to secure inheritance rights, which previously could only be determined through the mother.
 
Pre-colonial African life, culture and rights
 
Cheik Anta Diop, however, examined the work of Bachofen in “The Cultural Unity of Black Africa” and determined that there is no definable evidence that supports the hypothesis of matriarchy as a phenomenon in Europe.
 
Diop, in fact, separates the world into two cradles of civilizations—the Northern Cradle, which was patriarchal and the Southern Cradle, which was matriarchal.
 
Diop also provides evidence that refutes the basis of Bachofen’s thesis that sexual promiscuity, which led to uncertainty about paternity, is what rendered a society matrilineal.
 
Diop determined that the woman who enjoyed a sedentary life, typical of the Southern Cradle, “owes her social rank and her esteem exclusively to the structure of the society which allows her to play a leading economic role,” not promiscuity.
 
This conclusion made by Diop helps us to understand what was taken away from African people at the time when Europeans began their encroachment on the African continent.
 
When Europeans began implementing colonial rule over Africa, African women had rights to land and inheritance that were determined through the mother.
 
It was colonial policies that reshaped African social norms, as explained in W.O. Maloba’s book “African Women in Revolution” when he states that “unlike the pre-colonial period where in many parts of Africa women who farmed had rights over land, under colonialism the imposition of private ownership of land left most women without their ‘customary right’ to land.”
 
African people in the Americas had been held as slaves for over 200 years and had no right to land, money, property or our own bodies. We could be bought and sold at a moment’s whim and it was white women along with white men who enjoyed the fruits of our free labor.
 
As white women grappled with gaining rights in white society, they still had African women in their kitchens and as wet nurses for their babies. Their call for a women’s liberation was a call for the liberation of white women on the pedestal of the oppression of the entire African nation.
 
This is the foundation for modern day feminism which focuses on patriarchy as the main opposition to white women’s liberation.
 
The liberation of African women and of the entire African nation cannot be summed up the same way. Ours has always been a struggle against colonial domination.
 
Besides having the same biological functions as white women, African women share hardly anysimilarities in the struggle to be free of oppression.

African women’s struggles cannot be separated from the struggles of the entire African nation
 
Certain sectors of our population have taken feminism on as their own. Black feminism developed as a way to align the white bourgeoisie with the black petty bourgeoisie.
 
It is essentially an integrationist solution that allows the black petty bourgeoisie access to resources previously inaccessible to them.
 
When black feminists conclude that patriarchy is the main contradiction for African women, they liquidate the role that the entire white nation has had in our oppression.
 
Within black feminism, conversations about oppression are often led by bourgeois intellectuals who take the discussion out of the realm of African poor and working class women.
 
Black feminist activism is centered on confirming the value of African women within this capitalist society, instead of destroying this system of exploitation.
 
Black feminism claims to understand the effects of imperialism and colonialism on African women. Patriarchy, however, is still viewed as the ultimate contradiction that African women need to struggle against.
 
This is in direct opposition to the African Internationalist perspective that believes that in order for women to be liberated we must be full participants in the revolutionary struggle against colonialism and imperialism. The entire African nation must work together to overturn imperialism—the system that oppresses us.
 
All of what’s been said provides the ideological basis for this conference. It is the duty of all those who love African freedom to champion this attempt to bring the masses of African women into political life.
 
We cannot have liberation for our people with half our nation obscured in mundane tasks that prevent us from participating in our own liberation.
 
Join with us, register for the conferences and give your financial support. Visit apspuhuru.org/aiwomensconference.
 
Contact us anytime by emailing aiwomensconference@apspuhuru.org,or calling U.S. 202-642-4672 or Europe 07723-067-486.
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