There is perhaps no place in the world where women play such a vital role in maintaining societies, yet have so little opportunity to share their stories, as in Africa. Because of unequal access to education, pressures to marry young, and observance of traditional practices that discourage their public engagement, many African women find themselves outside the formal arenas of influence and power. At the same time, they are often the primary caretakers and economic supporters of their families, as well as the frequently unacknowledged “experts” who transmit both language and cultural knowledge from one generation to the next.
“African Women Speak Out” attempts to fill this gap by providing a forum where women can tell the stories of their lives and livelihoods, in their own words and in their own languages. The women who tell their stories here – in languages such as Hausa, Zarma, and Fulfulde (forthcoming) – are all active in women’s organizations in their respective communities. These organizations provide a way for women to work collectively for the betterment of their families, villages, and neighborhoods, allowing them to enact positive change from the grassroots level where they have created an alternative arena of influence and power. Micro-credit organizations enable them to invest financial resources in ventures that will contribute economically to their community.
This section of the ALMA website has two goals: 1) to make available inspiring oral histories of women that might otherwise never be heard outside of their communities, and 2) to record these histories in the storytellers’ native languages so that both speakers and learners of these languages can have engaging and linguistically sophisticated material to read.