With points of departure in empirical studies of relations between male and female in African contexts, the panel aims to critically investigate mainstream notions of gender equality
Over the last decades gender equality has become the primary goal of gender struggle on a global scale: equality in terms of equal access to income and property, to education and health, and equal political representation. This is what gender equality looked like in the eyes of early socialist governments in Africa (Mozambique and Angola, among others) and this is what gender equality looks like in the eyes of contemporary development organizations. But beyond such notions, what does gender equality actually mean? Is it women entering male domains? Or does it include also men entering female domains? If so, what about differences between male and female bodies, such as the capacity of female bodies for giving birth? How do ideas of gender equality cope with this type of difference? How do notions of male and female in African contexts fit into conventional conceptions of gender equality? Contemporary African feminists question the very concept of gender, including taken-for-granted power imbalances between men and women. They see such concepts as colonial constructs, along with the concept of race, preferring to talk about male and female as something situational and fluent. Such lines of thinking challenge mainstream notions of gender equality, pointing to a need for re-conceptualizations. With points of departure in empirical studies of relations between male and female in African contexts, the panel aims to critically investigate notions of gender equality.