Black feminism: Mapping the discourse in contemporary social work education and practice in Africa.
Black feminism reflects a solicitous attempt to reimagine and repurpose the feminist discourse from the predominantly White woman influenced lens to a more robust and non-discriminant perspective. This accommodates the challenges as well as amplifies the voices of Black and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups around the world. Although gaining traction and currency in the West, the Black feminist movement has now evolved into a global status, attaining significant global coverage with issues of women liberation and empowerment being the foremost agenda. As will be thoroughly discussed in this issue of Social Dialogue, to the effect that women undergo multiple constraints and bottlenecks, rightly at the root of the Black feminist dialogue is patriarchy.
Patriarchy, as a deeply embedded practice in many cultures around most of the developing world, has spurred and maintained the feminization of poverty, social exclusion, political segregation and economic deprivation and inequality, as well as sociocultural subjugation. As a predominantly patriarchal society, women in Africa have been systematically constricted that issues centering on gender inequality and women empowerment are often gazed with suspicion by the dominant cultures which have long benefited from the egregious system and long kept women and their aspirations under ruthless control. Multiple national and regional data depict women and girl-children as being at the base of the pyramid in all human development indices, ranging from political participation to economic integration to sociocultural inclusion to financial independence to inheritance rights to land tenure appropriation, and to educational enrollment among many other measures. All of these issues pose legitimate concerns to the social work profession given our longstanding insistence on the liberation and empowerment of marginal and silenced groups such as women to meet their expectations and achieve their aspirations. Consequently, advancing women issues via the lens of Black feminism is a professional imperative for which all social workers must be actively involved regardless of practice orientation.
Pointedly, social work education in the continent has been slow in incorporating Black feminist ideals in our training curricula. Co-opting the paradigm into our professional curricula would enable student social workers to come to terms with the intersections of challenges limiting women potentials. Arising from the dearth of a feminist lens in our daily professional action, our practice have been inundated with therapeutic or residual interventions at the expense of pressing macro or systemic issues that have continued to perpetuate the denigration and indignities of women.
Therefore, this issue of Social Dialogue will be of utmost prioritization and interests to readers, educators- as conveyors of knowledge and skills- and practitioners. This is because it unmasks demonstrable and feasible strategies, resulting not only to the integration of Black feminist ideas into our overly skewed and deficient curriculum. It also uncovers methods that could prove instrumental to challenging the broad range of developmental-allied issues that have long been under the stranglehold of dominant but discriminatory groups and norms. I commend the esteemed contributors of this special issue Social work through a black feminist lens as well as the Editor in Chief, Carolyn Noble for her enriching efforts.