Written by: Déborah Marie Estelle
Translated by: Mathilde Domont
At a time when the social and political contexts in Ivory Coast are influenced by culture, tradition and religion, themselves characterized by patriarcat, the feminism in Ivory Coast is hardly accepted as a term and from the point of view of its objectivesEquality between men and women in rights and dignity and the freedom of women and methodsRefers to the means and tools used to achieve the objectives; note that the methods are evolving according to the context and the objectives. This analysis on the origin and evolution of the feminism in Ivory Coast highlights these challenges.
The beginnings and evolution of the feminism in Ivory Coast
In 1949, Ivorian women organised a huge historical Participation sociale et promotion de la femme en Côte d’Ivoire : une lecture des organisations féminines Pacôme Cyrille Guiraud. P39 march in the town of Grand-BassamCity located in the southeast of the country, for the release of political prisonershttps://rezoivoire.net/ivoire/patrimoine/2248/la-marche-des-femmes-sur-grand-bassam.html#. The pre-independence cultural and political environment was already opposed to the presence of Ivorian women in politics but their initiative promoted the creation of women divisions within political parties. In 1976, the Ministry for the Status of Women was createdPacôme Cyrille Guiraud. op. cit., p. 39. Women entered in political offices and in the National Assembly in 1981 and in 1986. From the 1990s, they freely joined political parties and led feminine divisions Ibid. Then, they gathered within a “Women’s CommitteeA women’s organisation that had managed to become influential in politics through its actions for black human freedom” for the fight and emancipation of the African Man. Anne Marie RaggiFormer secretary general of the women’s committee of the PDCI-RDA sub-section of Grand-Bassam (1946-1974), Anne-Marie Raggi was the initiator of the shopping strike and the emblematic figure of … Continue reading and Marguerite SacoumA political figure and heroine of the Ivorian anti-colonial movement, she was one of the main organiser of the Grand Bassam march are the important characters of this initiative. At the beginning, fighting for the freedom of the African Man was a goal, without having in mind that women should then lead another fight for the liberty of the Ivorian woman. “After commun struggles for independence, Ivorian men fooled the women and didn’t take into account their issuesInterview conducted on 25 October with Bintou Traoré, Ivorian feminist activist and journalist”, claim Bintou Traoré, a journalist and feminist Ivorian.
Quest for freedom for the woman and the equality between women and men in Côte d’Ivoire began after independence. There was thus the creation of the Association of Ivorian Women (AFI) to prepare women to hold every position of decision both in the public and private sectors. The AFI assigned itself a central purpose, the social and economic emancipation of the Ivorian woman. The 1960s to 1975 was marked by the presence of the first generations of instructed women.
Gradually, women organisations were created in rural and urban areas like the Ivorian League of Secretaries (LIS) in 1980, the Association for the Improvement and Development of the Living Conditions (AMCAV) in 1986 and the Association of the Women Leaders of Corporations (AFCECI) in 1988, which took actions in every area to improve living conditions of women: income-generating activities, literacy and vocational training, improvement of women’s legal status and health through fertility control. Other Ivorian organisations, such as the Association of Women Lawyers of Ivory Coast (AFJCI) have campaigned for changes in legal texts in favor of gender equality and for access to justice for women victims of violence of all kinds. While all these initiatives have contributed to the emancipation of women and the development of equality in Ivory Coast, it is important to note that they have not been done officially under the banner of feminism.
Feminism in Ivory Coast was first claimed by Constance Yaï, presidente of the association for the defense of women rights, who for many years fought to ensure the triumph of respect and gender equality. She also contributed to the initiation of the law repressing violences against women, whose has been forced to marriage, female genital mutilation or sexual assault. She was also the first to denounce rapes during political unrests that Ivory Coast knew in 2000. Since then, feminism in Ivory Coast has been evolving and coming up to sociocultural constraints, strongly influenced by the patriarchal system which conveys a gender division of the roles, which is based on two principles: principle of separation and principle of hierarchy. The first assigns men primarily to the productive sphere and women to the reproductive sphere. The second principle always places men above women in all sectors of activity and in society.
Feminism in Ivory Coast: between negation of the concept ; sociocultural realities and Western influences
The word “feminism” has a pejorative meaning in a many spirits because it is seen as a purely Western movement, an imported doctrine whose purpose is to destroy African traditions and customs. Marie-Ange Latte, Ivorian feminist interviewed within the framework of this article, think that feminism in Ivory Coast is strongly influenced by Western feminism. She also support that the clarification of the objectives and methods of feminism should require an appropriation by women and this implies trainings on the concept in order to avoid some slippages. She confirms: “Feminism in Ivory Coast must reinvent itself by combining our morality as African and the concept of feminism strictly speaking”.
In the majority of traditions and in the doxa in Africa, the man is considered superior to the woman and he has the right to exercise his domination on her, sometimes violently. Feminism is commonly understood as an ideology which do not only want to liberate the woman but also usurp the power of the men to put it in the hands of women. However, movements of liberation of women in Africa have existed since the colonial period. Their torch-bearers didn’t define themselves as feminists but were leading actions which aimed to deconstruct patriarcal conceptions and to give a more important case middle to the woman within the society.
Nowadays in Ivory Coast, in the age of the evolution of mass media and the Internet, the feminist struggle takes a different form. Ivorian women undertake more and more of their involvement.
“Feminism 2.0.Feminism 2.0 is a term to describe the struggle for equality and the changing role of women in society through the internet and digital tools” or “cyberfeminismThe term cyberfeminism was proposed by the Australian collective VSN Matrix in 1991 in the “Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century”. The group aims to bring women into electronic … Continue reading” shift the lines in Ivory Coast
In the online activist sphere, feminist activism has come to occupy a prominent place. This movement has spurred digital practices aimed at combating the sexism, racism and militarism encoded in the computer structures of the internet. Thus, through social networking and blogging, feminist activists in Ivory Coast are not only influencing policies, mores, and social thoughts built on stereotypes against “the African womanIn reference to the hashtag “the real African woman” who set the internet alight in 2020 ». Source : … Continue reading” but also sexist behavior that was long tolerated. So far, the achievements include the categorisation of “domestic violence” as a criminal offense; the disuse of the term “paternity” in favor of “parenthood” in the civil code, and the possibility for women to add their name to the birth certificate of their children.
However, the deconstruction of the rape culture, the political participation of women, the sexual education and the empowerment of the young girls remain the focus of attention of the feminists activists, evidenced by their different involvements.
Indeed, Ivorian feminists are involved, within organizations or activist only, for gender equality in politics, the right to sexual health and reproduction, against violences based on gender and for a leadership and empowerment of the women within society. This includes Carelle Laetitia GoliBlogger and feminist activist committed to the involvement of young girls in politics. She is the initiator of the Côte d’Ivoire Women’s Political Academy to train young girls in … Continue reading involved for women’s training in politics through her political academy and her blog “Heroin from around herehttps://heroinesdici.com/” ; Emilie TapéYoung blogger and feminist, she has been campaigning since 2018 through her blog les minouslibres.com for women’s sexual rightshttps://minoulibre.com/2020/ working for the right to education and sexual health : the NGO Woman Leader for the promotion of the right to education and health for young girl. Since 2020, Woman Leader led an awareness tour called “Young girl, your health mattershttps://www.woman-leader.org/jeune-fille-ta-sante-importe/” in high schools and secondary schools on menstrual hygiene and contraceptives methods for the young girls students. Today, there are more than 6 000 young girls who are beneficiaries of the programhttps://www.woman-leader.org/. There also is the Manowach centre, a listening and advising centre which encourages rapprochement between parents and children and which is also involved in the promotion of women’s leadershiphttps://www.facebook.com/Centre-d%C3%89coute-et-Conseil-Manowach-CEM-M-379506545970805/.
In the momentum of the struggle against gender violences, the NGO OVERCOMEhttps://www.facebook.com/Overcomecenter/ won fame because it is recognized for its involvement against women and young girls’ harassment in all its forms. Furthermore, since 2019, the Ivorian League of Woman’s Rights, a feminist network, made the eradication of sexists and sexual violences against womenhttps://www.facebook.com/LaLigueIvoirienne/ its first goal. It is on the initiative of few social and assistance actions to the survivors of gender violences in Ivory Coast.
Beyond activism for the respect of women’s rights, today, engaging as a feminist in Ivory Coast implies firstly assuming one’s commitment and secondly acting to replace the patriarchal system with a free and egalitarian system in which women and men, girls and boys have the same chances and rights of access to opportunities and public resources; but also that each gender evolves freely in an equitable manner in society.
BECK Carolin, C.B., Activistes féministes en Côte d’Ivoire et au Sénégal, actions, enjeux dynamiques, 2020, URL: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.nawey.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/11/Le-Feminisme-en-C%25C3%2583%25C2%25B4te-D%25C3%2582%25C2%25B4Ivoire.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjnxsefkvTxAhVJVsAKHSG4BxkQFjAAegQIAxAC&usg=AOvVaw3_77E9JJACDW
EPSE Kane, A. K., Le féminisme en côte d’ivoire, Octobre 2011, URL : https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.nawey.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/11/Le-Feminisme-en-C%25C3%2583%25C2%25B4te-D%25C3%2582%25C2%25B4Ivoire.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjnxsefkvTxAhVJVsAKHSG4BxkQFjAAegQIAxAC&usg=AOvVaw3_77E9JJACDW
EQUIPOP.org, Générations féministes en Afrique de l’ouest- paroles de militant.e.s et recommandations pour le forum génération égalité, 2020, URL : https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://equipop.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/GenerationsFeministes.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiD5sKAkvTxAhWcQEEAHYAMCM8QFjAAegQICBAC&usg=AOvVaw18jnSbwQXu41EiQGiRapWh
LOUA, C. (s.d.), Une lecture psychologique du discours féministe chez Fatou Keita et Veronique Tadjo, Akofena, p. 443-460, URL : https://docplayer.fr/198085325-Une-lecture-psychologique-du-discours-feministe-chez-fatou-keita-et-veronique-tadjo.html
To quote this article: Déborah Marie Estelle, “Côte d’Ivoire: le féminisme à l’épreuve”, 07.04.2022, Gender in Geopolitics Institute
The statements in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
|↑1||Equality between men and women in rights and dignity and the freedom of women|
|↑2||Refers to the means and tools used to achieve the objectives; note that the methods are evolving according to the context and the objectives|
|↑3||Participation sociale et promotion de la femme en Côte d’Ivoire : une lecture des organisations féminines Pacôme Cyrille Guiraud. P39|
|↑4||City located in the southeast of the country|
|↑6||Pacôme Cyrille Guiraud. op. cit., p. 39|
|↑8||A women’s organisation that had managed to become influential in politics through its actions for black human freedom|
|↑9||Former secretary general of the women’s committee of the PDCI-RDA sub-section of Grand-Bassam (1946-1974), Anne-Marie Raggi was the initiator of the shopping strike and the emblematic figure of the women’s march on Grand-Bassam on 24 December 1949. She was an honorary member of the national board of the Association des Femmes Ivoiriennes (AFI) since 1974, and president of the AFI of Grand-Bassam until 1984|
|↑10||A political figure and heroine of the Ivorian anti-colonial movement, she was one of the main organiser of the Grand Bassam march|
|↑11||Interview conducted on 25 October with Bintou Traoré, Ivorian feminist activist and journalist|
|↑12||Feminism 2.0 is a term to describe the struggle for equality and the changing role of women in society through the internet and digital tools|
|↑13||The term cyberfeminism was proposed by the Australian collective VSN Matrix in 1991 in the “Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century”. The group aims to bring women into electronic spaces through art. At the same time, the cultural studies scholar Sadie Plant used the term to describe the way she saw technology as feminizing Western society|
|↑14||In reference to the hashtag “the real African woman” who set the internet alight in 2020 ». Source : https://www.jeuneafrique.com/904701/societe/vraiefemmeafricaine-le-hashtag-qui-reconcilie-africanite-et-feminisme/|
|↑15||Blogger and feminist activist committed to the involvement of young girls in politics. She is the initiator of the Côte d’Ivoire Women’s Political Academy to train young girls in politics for their effective involvement|
|↑17||Young blogger and feminist, she has been campaigning since 2018 through her blog les minouslibres.com for women’s sexual rightshttps://minoulibre.com/2020/|