Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua

Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua

Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua

Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua

Synopsis

How and under what conditions is feminist consciousness created? What forms of mobilization foster feminist agency and what factors hinder its realization? These critical questions have been the subject of intense debate among feminist scholars in philosophy, political science, sociology and interdisciplinary women's studies for three decades. In this pioneering study, Jennifer Leigh Disney contributes to this debate by tracing the mobilization of women in two revolutionary contexts, comparing the strategies and the outcomes of various organizational forms developed in Mozambique and in Nicaragua over the past 30 years. By examining two socialist revolutions in the global South, Disney investigates the contours of women's emancipation outside the framework of liberal democracy and market economy. She interviews 146 women and men in the two countries to explore the comparative contribution of women's participation in subsistence and informal economies, political parties and civil society organizations. She also discusses military struggles against colonialism and imperialism in fostering feminist agency to provide a fascinating look at how each movement evolved and how it changed in a post-revolutionary climate.

Excerpt

What is new about women's organizations and women's gender interests within socialist revolutionary movements being subsumed by and deemed secondary to male revolutionary leaders and class analysis? Unfortunately, not much. But for scholar-activists trying to understand what has gone wrong in contemporary emancipatory struggles for social change, a detailed account of the theories and practices of such struggles from the perspectives of the women and men directly involved, with all the contradictions, assertions, triumphs, and unintended consequences contained therein, provides not only a tribute to and recognition of those who have struggled before, but also a roadmap of what to adopt and what to try to avoid for future social justice theorizing and organizing. Too often, scholars working within a “First World” context work from the presumption that citizens of the “Third World” are “practitioners,” while theory is reserved for “First World” academicians. What motivated me to take this project on was the belief that the theories and practices of Third World women have a lot to teach to First World feminist theorists and social justice scholars and activists. What propelled me to finish this project were the amazing women I met and the compelling and courageous stories they told me. It is to them and for them that I dedicate this book, for the richness of my work lies in the voices of the women and men who shared their lives with me, and it is for them and their struggles that I rely so heavily on their personal accounts and hope to do their stories justice.

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