Breaking out of internal colonisation

January 29, 2007 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

Many thanks to Susan Willett for posting this comment on the article about women and civil society published on openDemocracy before the World Social Forum began

I have been a peace activist/academic/feminist for the past 30 years and am only too aware of the ways in which women are marginalised in all manner of national and international forums. Gender inequality even thrives within NGOs and civil society organisations that should know better. But I have to say there is some truth in the words of Candido Grzybouski when he states that women are ‘a minority created by ourselves’. All to often womens groups/oprganisations/and womens officers in NGOs promote women as victims- the victims of poverty, the victims of violence, the victims of war, the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, the victims of global inequality etc etc. Men are also victims of these social and political evils but this is not what defines their gender identity or politics.

I have witnessed little progress for women in fighting these issues in the last three decades because we seem to have absorbed the ideology of victimhood into feminist identity and praxis. Little wonder that men are not interested in attending feminist workshops at forums like the WSF. There are only so many years that you can listen to a discourse of woes. As women we need to break out of this form of internal colonisation and empower ourselves in positive practice that changes the world around us. This means abandoning our self created ghettos where we bemoan our fate and create narratives of victimhood and elite discourses that only initiates with PhDs can understand. Rather we should be engaged in the mainstream to bring our voices to bear on the policies and practices that marginalise us, to fight for positions of leadership, to influence events at a local national regional and international level. The practice of fighting for equality and recognition in ones own life is as much a part of feminist politics as is campaigning to improve the plight of others.

The personal is still political – this is where we most acutely experience discrimination, insult and abuse. It is through the aquisition of personal power and confidence that we can most easily change power relations between men and women. Institutional inequality and gender discrimination persists despite reams of legislation because we have not yet purged our sense of ourselves as a minority.

Be strong in yourselves Sisters and the world is yours for the taking.

Susan Willett

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Entry filed under: Diversity and equality, Real democracy, Self-determination.

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