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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The empowerment of the African women

Traffic jams, massive homes, airports and politically active women—not images the general public typically associates with Africa. However, after a six-month trip to several African countries,
Sierra College professor Winsome Jackson brought back a unique perspective that blew away many stereotypes students had about Africa.

“The one thing I would say is the people are warm, they’re friendly, they’re inviting, they’re supportive, they’re bright… they’re just amazing people,” explained Jackson when asked to sum up her experience in Africa.

While the topic of Jackson’s Oct. 20 discussion in the Cultural Awareness Center was labeled “The Role of Women in African Politics and Development”, her presentation largely consisted of a slideshow of various locations she visited, with a focus on Ghana and Rwanda, including some highlights of women’s involvement in politics.

Prominently featured in her slides were photos revealing Ghana’s horrific past, searing into students’ minds the massive coastal slave-trading castles, which were once used to export African slaves around the world.

Keeping with the title of her presentation, Jackson discussed the rise in female political leadership, highlighting the 9 percent increase in female members of the Ghana parliament, and the election of its first female speaker.

During the final portion of Jackson’s presentation, a focus was brought on the prominence of women in political leadership in Rwanda, a country largely known for its history of horrific violence between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.

The 1994 Rwandan genocide left 800,000 people dead, leaving women as 70 percent of the country’s population, Jackson explained. She credits this tragedy, however, as being a primary catalyst for a rise in female leadership around the country.
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“The country’s attitude about gender was transformed as a result of the genocide,” Jackson says.
She highlighted that women now make up a majority of the parliament in Rwanda, a feat which drew worldwide attention.

“The Rwanda constitution [now] says you must have a minimum of 30 percent female representatives,” adds Jackson.

Jackson noted additionally that it’s not just in political leadership that women are gaining positions; they are also taking the lead in private business, with the World Bank reporting Rwanda as home to the second highest number of female entrepreneurs.

But this shift in gender roles hasn’t made everyone happy. Jackson explained that many in Africa hold firmly to deeply rooted beliefs, resulting in concern about a rise in female leadership from leaders like Ghana’s Most Reverend Charles Palmer-Buckle.

“The motherly role of the African woman who is the homemaker must not be overlooked,” the reverend explains. The two-hour presentation left students with a new perspective of African culture and politics, one that parallels—or to some, surpasses—their experience in America.

“It was very revealing, [and] showed a new side of industrialized Africa,” says economics major Elliot Allen.

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