(Photo: Participants at the Development Alternatives workshop in Johannesburg)
Pathways to a Just Future for Africa
With the intent to collectively explore perspectives on Development Alternatives, WoMin recently organised a workshop with women activists from Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 22-26 May 2023 was an opportunity for women to not only deepen their understanding of the current extractivist and neoliberal economic development model – its origins and history but also to build strategies towards the alternatives they envision for themselves and their communities.
Drawing from ecofeminist values, the development alternatives are based on ideas such as the protection of the environment, the interdependence of all species and the respect for women’s roles in communities – all of which are present in indigenous practices.
During the workshop, participants were clear about the urgency of opposing a capitalist, patriarchal, and imperialist development model that destroys communities across Africa and countries in the Global South, often with their natural resources largely extracted to the benefit of countries and economies in the Global North. Instead, they are proposing a postcolonial development model that centres the protection of their well-being and livelihoods, and the environment in the face of a growing climate crisis.
Building on the feminist principles of solidarity, care, and respect, they reiterate their commitment to an Africa where women are part of decision-making processes and live joyful lives in communities free from violence for one that includes movement-building and solidarity in our shared struggles.
“We have to consider the way we are using the land, even for the future generations otherwise they will have nothing. (…) In Botswana we consider ourselves as people who are connected to the land, because whatever we are using – being it shelter or food – it’s from the land. (..) Land is the core of our lives.” – Thokomelang Ngaka, Botswana
A mosaic of African resistances and living alternatives
To underscore the themes of the workshop, WoMin shared its animated film, African Sovereignty: Women live the Alternatives. This film expands on the alternatives to the destructive model of development, which women and communities are protecting and proposing in their organising.
Women are saying YES to their right to make decisions for themselves and their communities, from land tenure to food security and environment protection, their proposals, though small in scale, offer a glimpse of hope. Collectively they form a mosaic composed of diverse alternatives women are living now. Moving forward, these women will be creating spaces for dialogues in their own communities to continue drafting their propositions towards a just future for Africa, addressing the interrelated issues of sustainability, peace, and social justice.
Across the continent, women are reclaiming their role as custodians of Nature. In the Okavango Delta, Khoisan women from Botswana defend their way of life, in Karamoja, Ugandan women defend their forest and in the Northern Cape, South African women defend their natural resources. This defence of nature by women across the continent is often under- shadowed still these are the guardians of the present and they are already creating pathways to the future we want.
Watch African Sovereignty: Women live the Alternatives