"The Intersection of Feminism, Religion and Development in the Discourses of ‘Gender Workers’ in Ghana"
While the post-secular has been hailed as a new turn within feminist theorizing, forms of feminism that actively integrate religion and religiosity into feminist discourse have long co-existed with secular liberal feminism. The marginalization of these alternative feminisms recalls well-rehearsed critiques by African feminists of mainstream (read: Western, white) feminism as lacking an understanding of the cultural and geopolitical contexts out of which their particular ideologies and struggles are forged.
This paper highlights two three cultural and political realities for feminism in the Ghanaian context: one, the extreme salience of religion and religiosity in social and political life, and in personal and public spaces; two, the suspicion of feminism as alien and counter-cultural; and, three, the popular and policy preoccupation with development, which requires feminists to wage war on gender inequality alongside other forms of social injustices, in particular poverty and widening income inequality. Based on interviews with women working on ‘gender issues’ in civil society and government, and on analyses of their policy and other working documents, my paper examines the various ways in which these practitioners configure feminism, religion and development to form an ideational basis for their work.
Nana Akua Anyidoho is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Social Division at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Ghana, and a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.
Nana Akua’s research examines the intersection of policy processes and human lives. Her recent studies have focused on rights-based approaches to development; discourses and practices of women’s empowerment; and the meaning and experience of work.
Dr. Anyidoho has published in areas ranging from personality psychology to development studies. She has presented her work internationally and has held visiting fellowships at Boston University, Penn State University, and the University of Sussex. She is currently President of the Ghana Studies Association, an international affiliate of the African Studies Association.