Gender Inequality in Southern Africa Essay

This semester we have studied Namibia and Botswana through different analytical lenses such as colonialism, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. All of the information we studied was used to thoroughly understand the history of this country and all the events that happened that led to each country’s independence. Out of all the information we learned, gender is what interested me the most. For my final essay, I want to pursue the topic of gender, specifically gender inequality, throughout Namibia and Botswana.

In books we read, including Histories of Namibia by Colin Levs and Susan Brown, The Other Side of Silence by Andre Brink, Maru by Bessie Head, and Nisa: The Life and Words of a ! Kung Woman by Majorie Shostak, I noticed that women were always degraded in society. In my final paper, I will have analyzed these readings and further support my topic with outside sources. For my introduction, I will explain the importance of knowing the difference between gender and sex, because people tend to think these words are the same when in fact their meaning is different and specific.

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I will also explain the geographic location of Southern Africa and give the audience a brief overview of the country. In the last sentence of my introduction I will let the audience know the thesis of my paper so that they focus and prepare themselves about what they are going to hear. In the body of my essay, I will explain how the books that I mentioned above portray gender inequality. Each book will have it’s own separate paragraph so that the paper is organized and easy for the reader to comprehend.

Supplementing the readings, I have my own outside sources that I looked up in the PCL Academic Search Complete database that I am going to use to compare to the readings. In my conclusion, I will do my best to raise some questions to leave the reader thinking about gender inequality in Southern Africa. I will also compare gender inequality to the United States and how things have changed over time to show the reader that Africa isn’t the only place that this issue takes place. Bibliography-Primary Sources 1) Leys, Colin, and Brown, Susan. 2005. Histories of Namibia: Living through the Liberation and Struggle. London: The Merlin Press.

This collection of oral histories reveals the struggles of 10 Namibians in surviving 23 years of war and moving forward with their lives in the aftermath. This book reveals that most of the Namibians had endured hardship and hunger and witnessed terrible cruelty and suffering, yet their outlooks were triumphant and optimistic, and their stories are full of enthusiasm, energy, determination, and purpose. In my essay, I will use the story of Lindi Kazombaue. She speaks about Women’s Liberation and National Liberation and gives great insight about how women were treated, especially when they tried to make their own woman organization.

To say the least, men were not happy about this. I am using this book as a primary source because it is a real life history that was recorded from a person who actually lived in Namibia and took part of the Women’s Organization. 2) Shostak, Majorie. 1981. Nisa: The Life and Words of a ! Kung Woman. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Marjorie Shostak was an anthropologist studying the women of the ! Kung hunter-gatherers on the edge of the Kalahari in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This book is the result of her interviews with one of those women, Nisa.

It is Nisa’s life story as told to Marjorie in conversations that took place over a period of many years, left off, to be taken up again during Marjorie’s next visit. What I liked best about this book is that the translation seemed to me to capture Nisa’s voice and the rhythms of African oral storytelling tradition. It was also an interesting study, and sad to see how the way of life of the ! Kung, and all of the San people have changed so dramatically. This book will be used in my essay as a primary source because it is the words of Nisa and she lived in the ! Kung at the time Majorie Shostak was interviewing her.

Bibliography-Secondary Sources 3) Brink, Andre. 2003. The Other Side of Silence. Great Britain: Harcourt. This book is about a young German woman named Hannah that had a dream of going to Africa. Shortly after she arrives an army officer attempts to rape her. She resists and undergoes a severe whipping and knifing, which leaves her tongueless and physically disfigured. Banished to Frauenstein, she eventually rebels and forms her own ragtag army consisting of abused women and African natives. Much of the narrative is about their symbolic trek across the desert as they set out to destroy the German Reich that ruled the colony so mercilessly.

I am going to use this book because it shows the treatment that German woman encountered. This book goes to show that Africans were not the only victims of abuse and will fit beautifully in my essay. 4) Head, Bessie. 1995. Maru. Oxford: Heinemann. This book portrays many themes. One is prejudice and this is introduced right off the bat. I was exposed to the people of Botswana’s prejudice towards the Maswara people when the author describes how nobody wants to even give a dead Maswara woman a proper burial. The novel begins at the end, and from there it moves back in time.

Bessie Head is an author who was inspiried by her own turmoil-filled life. She offered some valuable lessons to the reader in this book. The lesson on prejudice that I think Bessie was trying to say is that you must accept your identity. This book is great to include in my essay because one of the main characters in the book, Margaret, is treated different once she reveals that she is not white. Just because she was light skinned the Batswana assumed she was white and treated her like one of their own. Once Margaret reveals to the Batswana that she is a Marsawa, they treat her different.

So Margaret gets treated like an outcast not only because she is a woman, but also because she is a Marsawa. 5) Omoyibo, Kingsley Ufoama, and Ben Ibukun Ajayi. 2011. “Understanding Gender and Global Africa: A Critical Perspective. ” Gender & Behaviour 9, no. 1: 3729-3751. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). This article explains what gender is and gives solutions to solving gender inequalities. It also gives the history of gender and is a great source for my paper because it’s very specific and has a lot of useful information. ) Commeyras, Michelle, and Mercy Montsi. “What If I Woke up as the Other Sex? Batswana Youth Perspectives on Gender. ” Gender & Education 12, no. 3 (September 2000): 327. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). This article focuses on 50 essays written by young people ages 14-20 in Botswana, Africa, about how life would change if they were to wake up one day and found themselves being the opposite sex. 25 essays were written by each sex, and researchers were curious to know how each sex portrayed the other.

This study will be included in my essay because it is interesting to read how each sex defines the other in terms of gender and their role in society. 7) Barnard, Alan. 1980. “Sex Roles Among The Nharo Bushmen of Botswana. ” Africa (Edinburgh University Press) 50, no. 2: 115. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). After reading the title of this article, you can infer why it will be included in my essay. This article tells you all about the Nharo Bushmen in Botswana and will give me supplementary information about the Batswana such as the division of labor, gender roles, sex, and marriage. ) Thomas, Felicity. 2007. “Global rights, local realities: Negotiating gender equality and sexual rights in the Caprivi Region, Namibia. ” Culture, Health & Sexuality 9, no. 6: 599-614. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). This is an interesting article I found when researching my topic. It informs us about gender inequalities and how this relates to high HIV-prevalence rates in Southern Africa. Although we didn’t discuss this in class, I believe it is a good article to include in my paper to spice it up a bit. 9) Osunyikanmi, Adebukola Foluke. 011.

“The Political Implications of Violence Against Women in Africa. ” Canadian Social Science 7, no. 6: 58-63. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). This article is self explanatory by it’s title as well. It tells us about how women in Africa were treated as inferiors and the acts of violence that were taken against them for different reasons. Since my paper is about gender inequalities, this source is good to include in my essay. 10) Ratele, Kopano. 2008. “Analysing Males in Africa: Certain Useful Elements in Considering Ruling Masculinities. African & Asian Studies 7, no. 4: 515-536. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2012). The aim of this article was to provide an analysis on how and why males should be studied from the perspective of gender in Africa. This article explains how masculinity is better viewed through a social and psychological lens so that you can fully understand the meaning of masculinity. This article will provide some useful information to use in my paper because it focuses on this one subject so that the reader can grasp a good understanding about what this word means.


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