Women in skirts Decolonising feminisms in Mozambique

The recent (18/3/16) feminist rally in Maputo, Mozambique to protest against the governmental order that obliges all girls to wear maxi-skirts as the critical measure against sexual harassment in schools, shows how problematic women struggles are, in Africa. The African cultural authenticity argument is foregrounding of an expressive male majority that favours maxi-skirts so to, allegedly, put girls and their mothers into place. On the contrary, the Mozambican feminist and women organisations and intellectuals argue that this is an excuse towards a progressive limitation of women’s human rights in the country and a strong setback in the ideals of independence. The developments, such as the arrest of several activists, the order to extradite a foreign feminist who was present in the rally and the rudeness of the debate in the social media, need attention and a critical exploration to understand what might be at stake. Pursuing an exercise of decolonising feminisms this work aims to reveal some of the abyssal lines (Santos, 2014) and its colonial effect that de-locates the narratives about emancipation and constraints feminist activism to unveil the continuum between colonialism, capitalism and the women’s oppression in Mozambique. This presentation is three folded. In a first moment, we briefly outline the current social and political aspects underlying the pervasive impoverishment, vulnerability and fear of the majority of the population, in particular women and girls. The second part is dedicated to the time and in the course weeks following the arrest and deportation of feminist activists. Finally we analyse and draw the contributions that this work brings to an African situated decolonising feminist perspective.


Teresa Cunha . Centre for Social Studies, university of Coimbra . teresacunha@ces.uc.pt
Terezinha da Silva . Women and Law in Souther Africa – Moçambique . terezinhanoddy@gmail.com

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