African Feminist Standpoint Issue #3: Breathe In!

Welcome to Issue 3 of the African Feminist Standpoint!

Wellness! Care! Community! Healing! 

All poignant, urgent and necessary for us, for movement building, for liberation, for freedom. 

For a long time feminist activists have been doing critical and groundbreaking work around how we think about and practice wellness in a way that nurtures and does not problematise us. We see ‘AFS issue 3: Breathe In’ as our opportunity to contribute to this growing and necessary discourse. 

Join us and our contributors as we share our experiences, our thoughts and some of the roadmaps we are starting to develop to become whole, well and together. 

Here is a little bit of what we have in store for you in this issue

‘Do bad girls even have the right to heal?’

‘Deviance’ -this is a word we have heard often in relation to a lot of us – women and people who are critical and ultimately not accepting of heteronormative, capitalist, sexist and religious ideals about who we are or should be.  

TS and Nawiri, and a few of our contributors, explore what it means to be a ‘bad woman’ in society and how bad women are not only punished for going against societal norms and expectations, but are also seen as not deserving of care, and as asked by TS “Do ‘bad girls’ even have the right to heal?”

Covid19: ‘How do we talk about wellbeing when being well, for some of us, is being in community?’

In these times of pandemic that have upended our usual ways of working, it seems that the theme of this issue is even more pressing. What to do when lockdowns and restrictions have created constraints on how we do face to face organising? How do we talk about wellbeing when being well, for some of us, is being in community? How do we reimagine spaces for healing in the digital realm? 

Botho and Nozizwe explore what feminist praxis has looked like during the Covid-19 pandemic. They explore notions of care and community, physical and emotional intimacy and proximity and the barriers we have faced, during the pandemic, in how we ‘show up’ for one another. 

‘We still don’t have unions for feminists – an oxymoron because why would we need protection from a feminist organisation?’ 

Feminist activists have long questioned how the discourse of wellness and self-care has absolved oppressive institutions and systems of the harm and trauma they have caused and have effectively assigned responsibility, even blame, to the individual to be well. But when happens when the institution causing harm is the one feminists have built, nurtured and endorsed. 

Melissa and Varyanne speak to the hurts that exist within feminist movement spaces and organisations. An incredibly important exploration as feminists cotinually chart feminist realities and feminist futures – how do we heal and embody the kinds of people who can not only build the kind of world we want to see, but can also sustain it.


‘There are so many wellness, care and healing practices calling us to find them again’

Very often traditional (anything) and feminism can be seen to exist not only in different books, but perhaps even on different bookshelves. Fadzai, Tshegofatso and Amanda chronicle their own journeys and the ways they have been able to integrate these healing practices in aid of feminist organising and movement building.

‘And whenever I start feeling like I need to be free, I must know I AM the lock as well as the key’

We also have some wonderful offerings of poetry, photoessays and podcasts:

Donna –I AM
Tash – Black women: An undiscovered Music Genre
Bella – Better Place
Aïda – Dans le tourbillion de la lutte pour la guérison
Caroline – An altar for Black lives

Read these and other wonderful contributions in this issue of The African Feminist Standpoint
Issue #3

Before you go –  its International Safe Abortion Day – sign on to our joint statement 

In support of International Safe Abortion Day on 28 September, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ipas, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education and the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights have developed a joint statement on abortion rights for delivery at the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

The focus of this year’s statement is on abortion in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative builds on our previous joint statements on abortion to the Council these past 3 years, including last year’s statement signed by over 350 organizations and 530 persons. We hope you will join us and sign on again this year!  The statement is available for your review at the links below:

The HRC session runs from 14 September to 6 October, and the statement will be delivered during the general debate on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, scheduled on Wednesday 30 September. A few requirements need to be fulfilled including connecting the statement with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and observing the 1:30-minute time limit. Please note that a shorter version of this statement will be delivered orally to fit the time requirements, but that this longer version will be posted on the HRC Extranet and used for promotion and dissemination.

We invite groups, organizations and individuals [Note: there is an option to keep your name anonymous] to sign on to the statement by Sept. 29th, 6PM CEST by filling out the following sign-on form and following its instructions:

We would be very grateful if you could help us disseminate the statement far and wide with your networks.