Gender Fatigue — a Backlash or Inherent Reality


The gender movement is meeting internal and external pressures that are forcing its deceleration, this new attack of gender fatigue is directed at the application and fundamental structures of the movement. There is opportunity for advocates to respond as a victims or as a students of human relations.


Gender, women, movement, equality, reverse racism, abuse, conflict, African, western, identity, faith, culture, religion, diversity

1. Introduction

The target of this paper is the broader society, bombarded with information on the value of gender policy against the status quo. The paper also targets the Researcher on gender policy and the activist, who thus may be encouraged to have a broader world view in respect to gender issues and the value communal society that influence them. Some may become activists who censure communities for not embracing what they have not adopted as actual value, ethics, and principle.

The community is partly made up of women invited to join a project to gain finance for a project or skills to send their children to school or make a better life, and maybe generally happy with their lives. These women find there is more time spent on informing them that their unhappiness is due to their lack of family control. Although they might take offence with this judgement, they tend to remain silent in order to get the funding they are seeking and leave their feelings and opinion at the door.

Attempts at redefining gender movement by geography, culture and religions influences highlights diversity in gender values that many advocates consider divisive despite their very existence.  The value of the Gender movement stands to be eclipsed by the lack of social sensitivity of its current advocates.

When we use the words climate justice, we have to remember that justice implies that there is injustice. And, injustice implies that there is an imbalance somewhere. So the whole work of creating justice is to get the balance that you need. And this balance is as important for the environment as it is for people.” —Musimbi Kanyoro 

“We can no longer afford to minimise or ignore the contributions of women and girls to all stages of conflict resolution, peacemaking, peace-building, peacekeeping and reconstruction processes. Sustainable peace will not be achieved without the full and equal participation of women and men.”   —Kofi Annan 

2. History  

The questioning of the progress, validity and future of the gender movement has a long-standing history.  ’Today the battle we thought won is going badly against us’, commented Cicely Hamilton in 1935, ‘we are retreating where once we advanced.’1 Her younger colleague  Winifred Holtby, continued to reflect on these challenges seeking an explanation to her question ‘Why, in 1934, are women themselves often the first to repudiate the movements of the past hundred and fifty years, which gained for them at least the foundations of political, economic, educational and moral equality?’2

  • Olive Banks has argued that the movement ‘trapped women in the cult of domesticity’ and failed to ‘survive the combined assault of both the Depression and the Second World War’.
  • Susan Kingsley Kent has pointed to the impact of the Great War on perceptions of gender, suggesting that as early as the 1920s ‘ Feminism as a distinct political and social movement no longer existed’.

What none of these women foresaw in their assessment was the need to redefine Feminism due to:

  • The very basis of feminist’s battle (gender identity) would be questioned,
  • Terminology and expression of Feminism would be elitist and not responsive to the public in different societies,
  • The debate as to the existence of a cult of Feminism,
  • Reverse sexism would attribute against Feminism as being practised at institutional and global levels.
  • That there would be a demand for uniformity of radical gender view by feministic leaders which would lead to the rejection of Feminism in many communities globally.
  • That Feminism would develop a self-criticism, interpreted as aggression,
  • A culture of dissatisfaction and entitlement would result in increased intergenerational frustration and increased aggression from the youth.

Because of the current conflicting “core” principles and interest in gender, this paper recommends that there is a need to redefine gender policies for Africa, in line with the community and its interests.

  • That gender issues would be locally developed, and core principles agreed on issues, i.e. political, economic, educational and moral equality.
  • That curtail sensitive implementation is considered a success rather than failure.

Increased Research that would speak forth the voices of the community in harmony with holistic synergetic institutional (professional) recommendations would aid in the development of an African gender agenda.

The black American democratic caucus quote in its motto of relations:  We have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies only permanent interests.

2.1 The historical and cultural view of Gender Issue  

In the Middle Ages, when European women were practically slaves, African women were reigning over kingdoms and were gatekeepers of commerce and military leaders. Many African societies were matriarchal, with African women afforded sexual and social freedoms which led to less possessive relationships. The major shift in the status of African women, however, came as a consequence of the European attack on Africa, which resulted in slavery and colonialism. Modern Feminism exists in African spaces as a way to deepen contradictions that were born from this attack. Our natural inclination as Africans is to struggle together; however, Feminism shifts us away from our shared struggle of destroying capitalist and colonial oppression, to one focusing on seeking validation from the oppressor. This is extremely harmful to African women who are suffering from imperialist-driven rape, high incarceration rates, theft of our children, sexual exploitation, among other problems. Feminism does not solve these problems; instead, it isolates the plight of women and men in Africa. The reality is that all African society is suffering because of conditions such as poverty, inadequate infrastructure and violence. If we look at our history, these conditions were just as un-African as the bourgeois, band-aid feminism [of today], and are what facilitates the exploitation of women – not patriarchal ideas, as Feminism presupposes. ● Yejide Orunmila, President, African National Women’s Organization

Issues surrounding victimhood, voice, agency, subjectivity, power, gaze, silences, knowledge and nation have often been recast in African feminist theory and need further exploration in Africa today. Many women in South Africa, as in the rest of Africa, eschew the label ‘feminist’ for different reasons but still carry out a broad feminist agenda. Alternative terms for Feminism abound in African feminist theory. Alice Walker coined the term ‘Womanist’ to highlight the racial nature of experience and to unify black women within a different (divided) feminist tradition; one that acknowledges social, political, national and cultural issues in its conception of gender; O’Molara Ogundipe uses ‘Stiwanism’ which is an acronym for social transformation including women.

3. People  

The target of this paper is the broader society, bombarded with information on the value of gender policy against the status quo. The paper also targets the Researcher on gender policy and the activist, who thus may be encouraged to have a broader world view in respect to gender issues and the value communal society that influence them. Some may become activists who censure communities for not embracing what they have not adopted as actual value, ethics, and principle.

The community is partly made up of women invited to join a project to gain finance for a project or skills to send their children to school or make a better life, and maybe generally happy with their lives. These women find there is more time spent on informing them that their unhappiness is due to their lack of family control. Although they might take offence with this judgement, they tend to remain silent in order to get the funding they are seeking and leave their feelings and opinion at the door.

Political scientists ascribe that in order to portray philosophy/cause for membership, there is much outright bribery, severe bullying and synergetic use of collective/common cause. The gender movement has indirectly at its operational base used the carrot (projects, funding, and network) to bribe intellectuals and the grassroots. The result has been numerous programs, organisations and limited local buy-in. Alternatively, the structures have used legal bullying through donors to force movements to change laws some vital other which never operate in the name of gender ploy. It may be time for gender activists in communities to truly reach out and hear what the “masses” are saying and gain developmental progress with gender transformations.

Gender program directors and researchers may take the methodical style of political parties and other social innovative leaders (Gandhi, Mandela, Makeke, Merkel) who understand their communities and the power structure available. The traditional structures and their capacity to impact and transform society may be an invaluable source of imputes for the African can gender movement.

For since men almost always walk on paths beaten by others and proceed in their actions by imitation, unable either to stay on the paths of others altogether or to attain the virtue of those whom you imitate, a prudent man should always enter upon the paths beaten by great men and imitate those who have been most excellent, so that if his own virtue does not reach that far, it is at least in the odour of it. He should do as prudent archers do when the place they plan to hit appears too distant, and knowing how far the strength of their bow carries, they set their aim much higher than the place intended, not to reach such height with their arrow, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to achieve their plan. Machiavelli 

Using Machiavelli’s views to look at the gender movement, it acts as a warning call, all great movements that refuse to build from the ground have become cults seeking blind obedience to the prophetic elites.

3.1 What is gender internationally? 

Each culture creates meanings for the term female and male. These meanings involve a series of expectations regarding how each gender should behave (that is gender roles).  When we speak of gender or sex-role stereotypes, we are speaking of those structured sets of beliefs about the personal attributes of women and men (Ashmore& Del Boca, 1979, p222) 3. Tase’s beliefs are typical in the sense that they imply that gender-linked characteristics not only exist but are also desirable. Children in every culture need to learn their roles and the behaviour that goes with them. With gender roles, as with other roles, the expectations are not always clear, nor does everyone adopt them to the same degree.

  • e. the stereotype is in lower working-class violence in men may be acceptable while in upper classes its assumed differences are dealt with using reasoning powers. Nevertheless, some working-class men disdain violence while some upper-class intellectuals use it.

Stereotypes are not fixed but respond slowly to culture. Because roles are learned, the possibility always exists that they can be unlearned, and the definitions of the role’s thimbles redefined.

Simone de Beauvoir suggests in The Second Sex that “one is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one.” To her, one is born a female. Most activists agree that one is born with a sex/gender. Most are willing to affirm that one is born with a sex, and that being sexed and being human are coextensive and simultaneous. Sex is an analytic attribute of the human; no human is unsexed; sex qualifies the human as a necessary attribute —while gender is the variable cultural construction of sex, the myriad and open possibilities of cultural meaning occasioned by a sexed body (Beauvoir et al. 1987).

  • Some feminist theorists claim that gender is “a relation,” indeed, a set of relations, and not an individual attribute.
  • Others, following Beauvoir, would argue that only the feminine gender is marked, that the universal person and the masculine gender are conflated, thereby defining women in terms of their sex and extolling men as the bearers of body-transcendent universal personhood.

Other advocates of feminism state that the Feminist critique ought to explore the totalising claims of a masculinist signifying economy, but also remain self-critical concerning the totalising gestures of Feminism. The effort to identify the enemy as singular in form is a reverse-discourse that uncritically mimics the strategy of the oppressor instead of offering a different set of terms.

3.2 What is gender in Africa? 

Gender movement must maintain a transformative social philosophy with the aim of universal progress and benefit without seeking war on all fronts. The strategists must know what method to use to gain, without undue collateral damage, so that one does not endanger the winner by creating an environment of failure due to the creation of unnecessary enemies.

The greatest challenge that gender movements in Africa are meeting is that gender policy and gender politics are politically played as part of the funding agenda but do not form the communal reality. On the other hand, African women struggle with legal stereotypes. While the cultural difference in respect to Zuma’s legal case and the interpretation of the law in his favour, one African writer states “the idea that the law can identify conservative cultural practice as belonging to a specific ethnic group (in this case ‘Zuluness or African-ness ’) as authentic cultural production points towards an atavistic understanding that society can live without. This sort of reactionary logic can be seen as forming a trajectory between systems of understanding from colonial times into the present where the otherness of ‘native’ cultures is claimed, projected and disavowed in the construction of knowledge”.

The balance of culture and gender values is a struggle of all gender movements in line with their community relations.

According to Mr. Kajawu (University of Zimbabwe) in the African perspectives on genetics, the constitution of the “seed” and behaviour the background Culture will influence the perspective of:

  • Beliefs
  • Genetic make-up
  • Role of the male parent
  • Role of the female parent

What are the beliefs in African (specifically Shona) cultures of genetics and behaviours?

  • seed “mbeu.”
    • The seed is said to embody all hereditary characteristics: e.g.
    • Intelligence (njere; ingqondo)
    • Cleverness (kuchenjera; ukuhlakanipha)
    • Prudence (kungwara; ukukhalipha)
    • The belief is that they pass from generation to generation
  • Aspects of life
  • Creator “Musikavanhu, mutsvene anoyera

Children come from male species

  • Outstanding characteristics-male ancestors
  • Seed-hereditary characteristics

Female role: fertilising and nurturing the seed; socialisation

  • Health problems (fertility & nurturing) =originate from person’s maternal genealogy
  • Father’s role = spiritual nurturing
  • Individual role = facilitating bodily growth: “nourishment, clothing, and protection”, ..etc..

Phases of bodily growth & personality development “unhu/ubuntu.”

  • Shona culture recognises 8 phases of growth and development in the human life cycle
  • There are stages of bodily growth and dimensions of “ubuntu” personality
Phase Growth and development in a child
● Phase 1 ● The inert/unsouled mind-soul (Embryogeny) phaseconception — 12hrs
● Phase 2 ● Phase 2= intellectualising the mind-soul (Souled life) from about 12 – 24 after birth to puberty
● Phase 3 ● Phase 3 The social growth & development (Adolescence) from puberty until the first conception
● Phase 4 ● Phase 4 The spiritual growth & development (Marriage) from the first conception to parenthood
● Phase 5 ● Phase 5 The behavioural integration (Parenthood) from the birth of the first baby to the birth of the first grandchild
● Phase 6 ● Phase 6 The integrated personality (Grandparenthood) from the birth of the first grandchild to the birth of the first great-Grandchild.
● Phase 7 ● Phase 7 The spirit elder/Great-Grandparent from great-grandparenthood to death.
● Phase 8 ● Phase 8 The ancestor spirit or Transition to Spiritual life Phase.

The dichotomy of health and health problems:

  • Maternal fertility and nurturing environment and Paternal genealogy or spiritual environment
3.2.1. Christian church 

In the African context of gender, it is essential to take into account the religious view of gender identity in Zimbabwe, which is by the majority, a Christian community. The view is that sex is a divine gift from God; the choice of gender is His to place on the child. While cultural bias may also lead parents to desire a son, the standard biblical basis of sex placement is beyond the parent.

There has been a growth of prophetic ministries that waver on the divine gift teaching. They believe that payment may be made financially, through prayer or fasting to seek one’s desire but once given they to submit to Gods divine choice.

The belief is that as a gift from God, a child is placed into the hands/stewardship of the parents and their role is to instruct and direct the child to know God and in fellowship with other believers; to reject one’s sex/gender, would be to reject one’s parents and God.

The acceptance of women in the church in a position of visibility or authority is relative to denominations, with other open-minded based on their interpretation of scripture while others are commanding silence if not outright submission to all masculine authority overall. It is important to note that some female members may be more active in the submission of their fellow sex more than other men.

In churches, the differences between men and women often thought of only in biological and physiological terms. However, the differences are far more complicated when seen in society. It is the term gender that encompasses the socially constructed roles, activities, and behaviours that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. These roles vary according to socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts; and are affected by other factors, including race, age, class, religion, and ethnic groups. Furthermore, gender roles are learned and reinforced through education, political and economic systems, social expectations, legislation, religion, culture, and traditions. (A STUDY GUIDE SERIES ON PEACE AND CONFLICT, FOR INDEPENDENT LEARNERS AND CLASSROOM INSTRUCTORS GENDER, WAR & PEACE-BUILDING).

3.2.2. Community 

Depending on the access to social media, gender option is founded in the society based on cultural and religious doctrine.

  • There are cases of individuals with a more international and open mindset through their work or aligned to funding workshops and personal interests who have followed what has been termed “the international nonprofit view” of gender.
  • Others who attend private schools become associated with a greater social push for diverse sexuality; diverting worldview to their guardians or larger community.

Gender policy in Africa has become a social question affecting the common men and women. As most activities are sponsored by international agencies and their focus is on attaining the appearance of gender-based equality by statistics. Divisions have arisen on the value of gender policy:

Advocates like Rumbidzai Kahari who calls herself a Genderist are arising who seek to define a more inclusive gender policy that does not solely focus on increases in female participation but universal unity and progress.

It is common to note that it’s easier to gain funding for a girl child than it is for a boy child regardless of the fact that the boy may be in greater need of help and more qualified for help except by virtue of sex. The danger of prolonged institutional sexism sponsored by the gender movement has been the increased gender fatigue in the youth.

The antagonistic expression by gender activists towards women who enjoy domestic captivity at some level has limited their strategic efforts from being commonly acceptable the perception that gender activates when female are social antagonists has hindered social impact in areas where there is the greatest need.

Most United Nations agencies and those funded by its arm, in areas of agriculture require input from the community before project initiation, due to recognition that failure to gain communal support will assure project failure. This paper recommends that communal support be viewed as key in areas of gender and that gender issue not be dealt with singularly but in tandem with communal development. A strategic work plan may bring forth greater social unity rather than increase burdens on the target groups.

4. Waves of Feministim movement 

Thus, you must know that there are two kinds of combat; one with laws, the other with force. The first proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first is so often not enough, one must have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to know well how to use the beast and the man(The  Prince,  Niccolo Machiavelli).

Waves of Feminism

  • The first wave refers to the movement to obtain the right to vote, which lasted 72 years.
  • The homes movement of the 1960s and 1970s is generally referred to as the second wave.
  • The second wave appears to have initiated a disintegration of unity from a move of we to me.
  • The increasing trend of stories of women from this wave, who regret despite their personal successes not having a family has relegated Feminism to the back burner.
  • The most recent effort led by women in their 20s and 30s is generally called the third wave flowing to the fourth wave.

Whereas earlier feminists fought for and earned women greater liberation, individualism, and social mobility, the fourth wave furthers the agenda by calling for justice against assault and harassment, for equal pay for equal work, and for bodily autonomy. Fourth-wave feminists often use print, news, and social media to collaborate and mobilise, speak against abuses of power, and provide equal opportunities for girls and women. In addition to advocating for women,

  • fourth-wave feminists believe that boys and men should have greater opportunities to express their emotions and feelings freely, to present themselves as they wish, and to be engaged parents to their children.
4.1 Africa in the Gender timeline? 

An attempt to replicate feminine war strategies in Africa during the third and fourth wave has limited progress on gender policy. Africa’s participation of the second wave of Feminism was largely hinged on the focus of liberalisation from colonialism and seeing independent states. The gender policy rise was a political rise dependent on the aggressive nature of the independence movement. This limited the gender policy impact on implementation outside the interest of women in power and general party policies.

The political, professional and institutional elitism began to be a power play; parliamentarians make laws in error because pushing laws does not change society. Gender activists have aimed at social change through political arm twisting using donor agencies. It is important to reiterate that only the extent of application of a vision co-opted by the community, that donates social integration and thus success.

Radical Feminism in Africa as a philosophy is limited through its desire to battle a war against the foundational culture, sections of the population and the social institutions.

  • The attack against the success of men and women who accept have differing roles in families as husband, wife, children and relatives.
  • The attack on the Standard Family – attack marriage as an institution between men and women.
  • As some radical members despised the very concept of the traditional family,
  • The denigration and comparisons of individuals, i.e. male vs female
  • The devaluing of community players, thus defining women’s contributions more important compared to men.


One quote was penned by the author may speak to the heart of many who desire the progress of women but not at the destruction of the universal concept of men:  Gender movement must be the process of unifying of society from its brokenness, and we accept that that male-female relationships have been broken and only together as humanity may we fulfil our purpose. Learning from the past requires us to do so with acceptance of responsibility and accountability (of actions and omissions). The progress of one sex at the expense of another cannot work, the development of self alone (me and mine) cannot work and is not healthy for the long term as seen during the COVID 19 pandemic. Selfishness does not lift society nor help the individual. We are relational beings, in spirit and biology, we need each other. We must accept the past wounds and unmet needs of our lives and like the Kintsugi artist, allow the conversation to unify us at the point of brokenness and restore us together. 

Being a woman is a gift, but it’s not better than being a man, giving birth to a daughter is an honour, but it’s not greater honour than being the mother of sons, the suffering of women is not universally more important than the suffering of men. To make each other enemies is to destroy us all. To be the eternal victim is to abuse others, to be the eternal hero is to harm oneself. Let each play their part.  

5. Post Beijing. Lessons learned 

According to a writeup by Nicola Jones March 7, 2007, on her blog ( there is a growing concern in academic and practitioners circles alike that 12 years after the lofty optimism of the 1995 UN Beijing Conference on Women we have reached a state of gender fatigue.

The energy of global women’s movement appears to be winning; gender mainstream initiatives have not lived up to expectations. Donor and government funding for gender equality remain static, or in some cases have even declined and a significant number of countries are off track in meeting the millennium development goals on gender empowerment.

The suggestions made by experts in gender include:

  1. Foster more realistic expectations about women’s role in solving poverty Recent work by ODI has contributed following their initiatives in Peru and idea that hard questions must be asked between government and donors enthusiasm for women targeted programs as a conduit for border social services delivery on the one hand and desires of the women involved on the other.

There is a desire to achieve too much with too little. 

  1. Take history seriously. The past reflects on the social community being insufficiently realistic about the scale and depth of change that is required to bring about more gender equals society. There is a need to encourage donors to invest in long-term, multi-faceted initiatives if we are to create the enabling conditions for appropriate change.
3. Recognised achievement and best practices 

According to one writer my first reaction when I hear talk of a post-feminist age and gender dismissed as an unimportant social cleavage is to get upset — statistics on the ubiquity of gender violence and the woeful record of prosecution for such crimes should alone be enough to convince any sceptic about the dangerous inequality. But a smarter response would be to take occasions like international women’s day, March 8, to encourage school and university teachers to teach about the history of the first and second-wave women’s movements in the north and south and what these activists achieved, often at considerable personal and social cost.

It is simplistic to assume that gender equality will simply follow economic development. 

4. Gender equity is as much about men and masculinity’s as women and Feminism 

Despite an emphasis on relationships in gender analysis, too many development initiatives continued to focus on women in isolation. But if we are going to invest in programmes to empowered girls and women and tackle internalised attitudes of gender-based inferiorities, we also need to be working with boys and men and addressing harmful equality understandings of masculinity.

One effort is men-streaming again which may also be a dangerous social solution. The Broader recognition that development initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and social justice to involve men centrally is doubtless welcome thus delinking from notions of femininity alone and positively associated with new contracts of male identity in diverse cultural contexts

5. Context-specific matters 

There has been a failure in translating conceptual knowledge into pragmatic practice. In order to encourage greater local ownership of the gender equality agenda, there is a need to combat what some scholars are terming gender fables and stylish myths, i.e. over simplified agreements about gender relations that have been wildly adopted in the development field. Just as empirical experience is demonstrating that there are multiple paths to poverty reduction, economic and political development.

There is a danger of depending on a technocratic quick-fix to gender inequalities as most mainstream initials have tended to do, but brace for a long haul, deeply political challenge. 

As stated by the analysis by Nicola Jones, all gender discussion should be based on an understanding of the culture and community that is being addressed. Without consideration of the culture and community that will be targeted, so that the best method and communication is used to impact the desired aims, the gender movement will fail. The shift from branding the feminism movement into the gender movement was due to the failure of the feminist movement in connecting the common men and women. Most of the past women beneficiaries of varied class and educational level who were aided through money and kind funded feministic efforts, do not consider themselves feminists.

6. Current: Gender in the African Context  

The development of Feminism in Africa to the extent to which nationalist organisations allowed feminist approaches to thrive (Hassim 2006:9). Political activism in postcolonial contexts as enabled by larger struggles against colonialism, which results in extensive alliances between women’s and nationalist organisations.

Across such theories lies the desire to assert a varied and ancient cultural history that unifies women in Africa – a history of women who have been excluded from official accounts by both their male counterparts and western constructions. Analyses of the various images of women, from both colonial and postcolonial perspectives, yield a history of representations of African women. One of the challenges of South African Feminism has been to rid itself of such racial stereotypes and practices, wherein this context white women have sometimes been charged with usurping the voice of black women within the name of gendered empowerment. 

Ronit Frenkel states in his review that (Feminism and Contemporary Culture in South Africa) Chandra Mohanty (1991) situates this problem as one affecting all third-world women in different ways where westernised women place themselves as the primary referent from which others are measured in terms of their deviation. Western feminist representations of other women, thereby form a discursive practice that is implicated in similar processes of domination as the ones that they ironically seek to dislodge. Gayatri Spivak’s (1988:286) work is a crucial intervention into such debates in her assertion of the difference between ‘speaking of’ and ‘speaking for’ in what she terms her project of ‘measuring silences’ — where the violence of representation is mitigated against the politics of erasure. The question of silence is a theme that runs through all of the articles in this special issue in different ways and is discussed further in this introduction.

Another challenge for South African Feminism has been to incorporate varying traditions within a woman-centred agenda that respects different ideas of tradition, be these traditions struggle-based or part of the indigenous practice. An important area of contention that requires further elaboration — what is tradition and who defines it? In most histories of colonial conquest, the colonising power refused to negotiate with women or acknowledge women as leaders in a public context. The collusion between colonial powers and indigenous male leaders led to female exclusion from higher structures of power across colonial sites from Africa to Asia to the Americas (although women were central to the colonial project’s ‘civilising mission,’ as they were often the agents for the transmission of Christianity and western ‘values’ in the domestic sphere).  History, or tradition in this light, has therefore been re-written. In South Africa, a flexible customary practice allowed women to become chiefs, while the processes followed in appointing chiefs, in general, was more complex than the current laws touted as custom would have us believe

The issues around women and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reflect the dynamics of silent histories in that the majority of people testifying before the TRC were women, but most spoke about their male family members. In their speaking women also kept silent. If the TRC may be seen as a performance of national redemption (Samuelson 2007:100), what does it articulate when women’s voices are only recorded when they describe male suffering? Their own stories appear briefly in the ghettoised special hearings on women but do not make up a significant proportion of histories recorded by the TRC.

Samuelson questions the idea that the end of apartheid necessarily provided a space for women’s voices to be heard, particularly around issues of sexual violence that often render victims mute (Samuelson 2007:20). Commissioners only focused on women as secondary victims or as victims of sexual violence. This distinction is crucial in that she sees the Commission as shaping women’s testimony to reflect more on the abuses inflicted on their male family members, rather than their own suffering as agents, thereby including men in the story of active anti-apartheid resistance.

In South Africa, Shilubana who is seeking to legally regain her father chieftainship with the support of her community, as an ANC member of parliament with royal blood, may be able to exploit her political credentials to help transform ideas of indigenous traditional practice and gender. The codification of traditional practice to undergird patriarchal constraints, coupled with an androcentric legal system in a male-dominated present, is challenged by a progressive constitution that is only as strong as its legal application allows in post-apartheid South Africa. The outcome of this case, which has yet to receive much publicity, has the potential to transform the relationship between gender and widely held beliefs around what constitutes ‘authentic’ customary practice due to the parties involved in this case.

The insertion of cultural difference as an argument for defense in the mistreatment of women hinges on the idea of traditions being ahistorical, immutable, and misogynistic – an insult to any dynamic tradition. whether people were really shocked to hear Jacob Zuma’s remarks about “Zuluness and rape.” ‘For many of us, it was a reminder of the ways in which the white man’s interpretation of African custom was assisted by and contributed to black men’s manipulation of tradition to perpetuate male domination’ (Motsei 2007:28). While her analysis is essentialist, Motsei links these issues to racial and gender stereotypes which South Africa has normalised in one of the few sustained critiques of the trial to emerge (it is interesting to note that no articles dealing with this case explicitly were submitted for consideration in this special issue even though the trial dominated the South African public imagination at the time).

7. Gender Activities 

Emmanuelle Bouilly, Ophélie Rillon & Hannah Cross states that in African women’s struggles in a gender perspective: African women’s mobilisations are ancient. Historians have widely documented women’s protest in precolonial and colonial periods, and have recorded female involvement in anti-colonial struggles, liberation wars and nationalist political movements. Anthropologists and sociologists have also given clear descriptions of African women’s activism and analysed the gendered dimensions of collective action and protest. They have focused particularly on motherhood and ‘maternal politics’ (Amadiume 1987; 1 Wells 1998) and customary modes of protest and organising (Ardener 1973; Cooper 2003; Snyder 2006; Tibbetts 1994).

Women’s movements and associations flourished throughout Africa from the 1980s under major socio-economic and political transformations such as democracy of political regimes, the liberalisation of economies, and the retreat of the state-enforced by structural adjustment policies. Women’s mobilisations – whether feminist or not, and whether women-related or not – may be classified as a gendered social phenomenon. The focus is on two categories of sexes – the women – but look at gender relations as a system. The question of relations between the state and women’s movements has been long debated, notably on the African continent through the lens of clientelism, cooptation and repression (Tripp 2001).

African women’s struggles in their relationship to the wider context of political, economic and social change on the continent, and seek to determine how economic and political forces shape women’s protest, including the resources, activities, modes of organisation, the objectives and claims, the tactics, the discourses, framings, and identity, and the outcomes of women’s mobilisations.

Women’s struggle against oppression in Africa is depended on their faith, principles and community need. This may not be viewed as proactive social activism but was initiated by the ground-roots. In 2015/2016, in Zimbabwe, the women’s community-driven effort (churches and civic activists) was vocal in the rejection of aspects of the school programme initiated by the government in introducing children to different faith values than those of their parents. This action against the grain of secular gender drives was the community-driven. Official Women’s movements split with community-driven women’s initiatives protesting the changes of the marriage law; this would have allowed legal partnership – and cohabitations to be legally registered. Again these efforts were based on community values.

A number of other articles show that African women are far from sharing common interests and goals, and do not constitute a homogeneous category. Contrary to the assertions of some works, there is, in essence, no such thing as a singular ‘female solidarity– ’ one of the myths of Feminism, according to Andrea Cornwall (2007). This special issue shows that women’s organisations experience internal divisions emerging out of women’s different social positions. For example, Emmanuelle Bouilly explains that mothers and spouses of migrants do not share the same position in the household and in Senegalese society. This is why young spouses did not commit themselves to the mobilisation against boat migration. Social hierarchies (socio-economic status, gender, ethnic group, or age) and unequal resources (formal education, fluency in foreign languages, access to the Internet, paid work, law or developmental expertise, etc.) impinge on women’s activism and shape discourses and forms of protest. They constrain the conditions under which coalitions are possible and how the leadership is delegated, as well as determining the existence of a division of labour among women. Issues of leadership are evident, and non-mixed movements do not escape the monopolised of posts of responsibility by activists accessing highly valued social resources (such as education, international connections, and masculine political organisations).

Women in Morocco (ADFM), a female organisation led by an urban and educated elite, alliance resulted in a hybrid framing of the land rights issue balanced between universal and particularistic (and patriarchal) conceptions of women’s rights. Tensions have emerged gradually during the mobilisation, dividing women with different priorities for the short and long term. The divide between rural and urban, poor and middle – or upper – class, illiterate and educated activists is also underlined in the Burundian case studied by Marie Saiget where the elite do not succeed in crossing the class divide and building bridges with the rural women who are under-represented in the movement. On the other hand, Aili Mari Tripp shows that in certain circumstances (post-war settings, the threat of Islamism, and an international agenda), activists can cross divisions and unite to press for women’s rights legislation.

The women’s movement effort to become the gender police has been met with struggles of identity. Only once the gender movement separates its focus on a group and seeks to bring universal players together can social needs be addressed with limited antagonism and open communication.

Cases of silent killer of social harmony have been addressed in this paper and may impact the views of future gender application as advocates take note:

  • High suicide rates in men and social impact
  • Defining abuse of men by women,
  • The balance between ethical and social responsibility of sexual harassment,
  • Mental health and Mental abuse of men and women from either sex,
  • Address male abuse be it sexual or institutional,
  • The recognition of the need to accept and embrace the value of cultural and religious realities for women,
  • The need to redefine successful gender implementation is not more women than men; a team made solely of women to represent an issue is not the perfectly gender-balanced team.
  • Participation of men, cultural and religious leaders in gender issues
8. International – Gender fatigue 

Power, access, influence, opinion, and definition of gender are managed by gender vocal activists based on their agenda for gender politics and policies. The current debate on gender issue ignores community culture, view, and social acceptance for their advocacy of norms. The question of gender being acquired brings forth the choice of gender.

Arielle Lapiano writes in Forbes, “A recent Harvard Business Review study exploring the #MeToo and #Times Up movements impacts on creating lasting improvements in their organisations revealed some adverse reactions. Lapiano writes, “Men and women are not talking to each other”. “The environment is becoming sterile and completely unenjoyable to work in”, replied one survey member.

  • According to the survey, 65 per cent of men indicated that since the movements began, it’s ‘less safe’ to mentor and coach their female colleagues.
  • This unintentional consequence hurts the women the movement was meant to serve.”

The articles go on to question. Is gender fatigue just gender discrimination with a new name, more of the same old, same old? If so, what is the solution? For sure, it is not to slow down in efforts to hire and retain more women in leadership positions and to have more women visible and participating in roles at the same level as men.

9. Future of Gender Movement   

Internationally there has been a move away from traditional second-wave Feminism to what may be termed as a return of the first wave feminism, where issues are the core, not gender. According to Wikipedia the Fourth-wave Feminism is a phase of Feminism that began around 2012 and is characterised by a focus on the empowerment of women and the use of internet tools.

The fourth wave is centred on intersectionality and examines the interlocking systems of power that contribute to the stratification of traditionally marginalised groups (a reference to minority groups). Fourth-wave feminists advocate for greater representation of these groups in politics and business and argue that society would be more equitable if policies and practices incorporated the perspectives of all people.

  • Fourth-wave feminists believe that boys and men should have greater opportunities to express their emotions and feelings freely, to present themselves as they wish, and to be engaged parents to their children.

The gender movement has encompassed over 50 years of direct activism. The integration of peace-building, governance and gender considerations into development and humanitarian programming constitute a core competency for most institutions in government and social sector.  At the same time, women have not participated in political negotiations to end their conflicts. Neither have they been included in many UN-sponsored mediations

According to Wikipedia, the challenge of the gender movements fourth waves is found in that; Women and their gendered issues are not uniform, and many variations in issues are a result of related issues such as race, sexuality, and class. British scholar Ealasaid Munro says that the call-out culture of fourth-wave Feminism risks marginalising and separating people who could serve better as allies over minor disagreements. Munro also provides the critique that mainstream Feminism is focused on the struggle of middle-class white women. Social campaigns that cast celebrities as the face of the movement, such as the Me Too movement, have been criticised, because celebrities often represent the privileged sectors of society, which in turn negate the efforts to expand upon the intersectionality of Feminism.

The wave narrative itself is criticised due to perceptions that it is only inclusive of western feminist movements and that the fourth wave itself takes place in the global north, often neglecting the struggle of women in other regions. Thus, this paper encourages the evaluation of the necessity of global leadership of gender. With the foundational human rights principles and structures. May it not be more effective to rather have a global coccus of interest gender groups, who individually target their community?

10. Gender Fatigue: Examples  

There are different strategies to approach achieving gender equity, write Catherine H. Tinsley, Raffini Family Professor of Management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the faculty director of the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Institute, and Robin J. Ely, Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the faculty chair of the HBS Gender Initiative in the Harvard Business Review,

  • “Managers who are advancing gender equity in their firms are taking a more inquisitive approach—rejecting old scripts, seeking an evidence-based understanding of how women experience the workplace, and then creating the conditions that increase women’s prospects for success,” they write.

“The solution to women’s lagged advancement is not to fix women or their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes.  While taking a continual learning assessment view of gender balances. Furthermore, by taking an inquisitive, evidence-based approach to understanding behaviour, companies cannot only address gender disparities but also cultivate a learning orientation and a culture that gives all employees the opportunity to reach their full potential,” according to Tinsley and Ely (Weldon, Michele And Move to Parity February 1, 2019, Blog)

It is in line with the need to address gender fatigue and gender imbalance. Revisiting the visions and aims of the gender policy in companies, nations and globally is key. If gender politics is viewed as a totalitarian attack against “another” social by in and progress will be limited.

A sign of gender fatigue is the desire for easy and impersonal gender policy actions. The motive is to get it is done rather than to embrace it. Reasons may include the following:   At a corporate and social level

  • Gender fatigue is seen in the corporate structures, for enduring eternal victimised perception of women for over 50 years.
  • Perception of stolen justice: fear of men to work with women as they are favoured by the law regardless of their actions.
  • Fear of lawsuits and loss of income, personal development and future
  • The judgement that women have institutionalised teasing of men as a sport
  • It is seen at the community level with increase belittling of opportunities given to women as unworthy and uncompetitive.
  • The frustration of youth especially young men on missed opportunities given to women less qualified or less in need in case (i.e. scholarships, employment)
  • the perception and expression that women benefit from a set number quota rather than from professional competence
  • The frustration expressed by younger women over allocations taken over by older women, during application of the varied gender policy programs. “Gender policy demands I hate my culture, faith and identity.”
Political level 
  • It is also seen in the application of institutional programs in government, i.e. Zimbabwean parliamentary allocation to women set at 60 persons, will reduce women ground root debate and political skills.
  • The frustration at institutional impositions from unelected external forces,
  • Political Detachment as efforts are not community developed, and limited accountability is required.
11. Conclusion 

“Equip individuals with the skills to make an impact within their sphere of influence and raise our collective standards about how people engage in the workplace. Begin by listening to and believing marginalised people who tell their stories and listen to them about the solutions—their expertise is valuable. Companies must create a place where teammates can have open, respectful dialogue – by understanding others’ experiences; we learn to help them belong.”

The gender movements advocates would celebrate this advice on diversity and human relations. That progress of human relations requires the capacity to hear and then be listened to. The basis of authority and impact of speaking off and for another must be taken into account in gender discussions. The gender movement may take note of the final comments on this literature view.

  • The gender movement cannot afford to ignore the voices of contradiction, including patriarchs and conservatives.
  • The gender movement in Africa cannot defend the rights of women by elitists western drafted ideology and methods, declaring that they speak for all women.
  • Gender, as defined, refers to both sexes and must be viewed with cultural lenses and routinely reviewed.
  • The gender movement must be sensitive to the needs of development and process for the youth overall and young women in particular.

“The current homogeneous cultic structure of the gender movement that rejects any contradictions or attempts to redefine the aims of the gender movement to core issues valid to universal social progress and development. Rather than focus on what may be culturally perceived abstracts on sexualisation or communally irrelevant political policies to spread propaganda is no different to totalitarian movements that may have started well but are highjacked by activists who target segments of society in hate speech, defines success in the denigration of the target group and grow membership by unilateral submission”. (Butler, Judith, 1956)

All the while, Judith Butler was supporting the move of homosexuals in the gender movement against heterosexuals. This writer reviews that in many developing countries, presupposition or direct promotion of true gender balance represented in that view would be as totalitarian in their eyes. Cultural sensitivity in gender application is key. In many meetings conducted by non-governmental groups or sponsored by such, gender issues and promotions are not defined to suit a community, while any attempt to query this is viewed as rebellion, ignorance, or subversion.

The Corona – Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 resulted in conversations on:

  • Contrary opinion on the human capacity to control life, predict outcomes including human capacity through artificial intelligence found airplay.
  • The value of artificial intelligence in daily applications revamped its media coverage.
  • An increase of gender-based violence, more media focus was on cases with male perpetrators.
  • The closure of schools led children to stay at home. Here again, the focus was on the girl child requiring support rather than on all children girls, boys, disabled and disadvantaged.
  • The closure of preschools. The additional burden placed on women to care for the elderly and young in their families.

The stories reflect social bias triggered by institutional policy. Gender issues must be synergic and holistic to truly make an impact on the world and attain supporters from both sexes. Failure to do so will result in the community level rejection even if it’s for their good, while international conventions and conferences continue conversing.

This is that men willingly change their lords/ladies in the belief that they will fare better: this belief makes them take up arms against him, in which they are deceived because they see later by experience that they have done worse.


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