Throughout history, the role black women activists have played in the struggle for various causes ranging from democracy and national independence to equal rights, land rights and social justice have been minimised globally. The prevailing narrative has tended to be that of movements spearheaded by male leaders with black women portrayed as their helpmates. Yet they have worked alongside their more famous male counterparts and in many instances have been and continue to be at the forefront of efforts to change and shape our world for the better. As an activist myself, I believe there is so much that can be learnt from black women in different movements around the world today as there is still so much work to be done. As an introductory piece to the “R for Resistance” series, the DefinIdentity project has the honour to learn from three Black Lives Matter activists.
New York City is synonymous with diversity, with talent and with the pursuit of success. As many people will say, New York is unlike any city in the world. According to Forbes, black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Their companies generate $44 billion a year. Therefore there is no better place than New York City to have the first chapter of the WomenPreneurs series.
Women entrepreneurs have always both fascinated and intimidated me. They have sparked admiration but also envy. It takes immense courage (some would even say madness) and great will to set off as an entrepreneur in a world where we are constantly told that we won’t make it, it’s too difficult, we don't belong here, we can’t do it. Women entrepreneurs have more obstacles to overcome than their male counterparts- social constraints, finance and credibility are amongst the many barriers they have to face. I have decided to celebrate women entrepreneurs with the fifth series of the DefinIdentity project: WomenPreneurs-Intro.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), also commonly known as Female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Approximately 100-140 million girls and women around the world have been subjected to FGM/C. In Africa alone, more than 3 million girls are at risk of the practice annually. FGM/C has no health benefits and is recognised to cause severe short and long-term damage to both physical and psychological health. Over two decades ago, a French doctor developed a surgical technique, which repairs the damage caused by FGM/C and restores the clitoris. Since then, the technique has been replicated and is in high demand in certain parts of the world. Restored, the fourth photo-series of the DefinIdentity Project, focuses on a group of women from Burkina Faso who share a common purpose - to be, as described in their own words “whole again” and enjoy sex. Special thanks to Hectoria “Hecky” Amponsah-Boadu who sponsored this piece.
A witch camp is a settlement where women accused of being witches live with their children. There are six witch camps in Ghana housing a total of around 1000 women. The Gnani camp is one of them. Most of the articles written about witch camps only highlight the deplorable conditions these women live in and publish the most dehumanizing photos. While this may have been done with the best of intentions, this one-dimensional storyline not only empowers the wrong people, it also robs these courageous women of the one thing that they value more: their self-respect. I was-I am is the third series of the DefinIdentity Project and features women from the Gnani camp. Special thanks to the Ansah family who sponsored this series.
Over the course of the 19th century, many freed Africans and the children of Africans born in Brazil, returned to the West Coast of Africa where they began their life in freedom. When they arrived in South Ghana and Accra they could only speak Portuguese. They greeted each other with “Como esta?” (How are you?) to which the reply was “Ta bom”. Soon enough, the people of Ghana started calling them the Tabom. Received well by the Ga chief and granted land on his territory, they stayed. The Tabom mastered handcraft techniques and were the first tailors and architects of this region as well as experienced farmers. Eager to see how they felt about their past and present, I met with a group of women all descendants from that group. This second series of the DefinIdentity Project was made possible thanks to Tina Aboah-Ndow.
The world is increasingly interconnected. We move in search of a home, we move in search of better opportunities, we move because we might have fallen in love with a place, we move to be with loved ones...The list is endless. The first series of the DefinIdentity Project looks at the dreams, thoughts and hopes of a group of four women who moved to Brazil.