The role of women in Africa today is tremendously different from what it once was.
Deidre Badejo, professor of African world literature and cultural history, addressed the issue of globalization and its impact on African women to five people last night in the Student Center.
Badejo explained why she became interested in globalization, how she went about exploring this issue and what the outcomes had been for her.
As a young girl growing up in New York City, Badejo learned in school about African-American figures who were very different from herself.
“I wanted to find out why these people thought and did certain things,” she said. “Slavery was not a good enough answer for me, so I started visiting Africa.”
Badejo, who is now working on writing a book, visited Africa to research about the country’s economic and cultural transformations induced by globalization. She studied its effect on women’s movements and feminist thought.
“When I started going to Africa, I saw where women like Harriet Tubman and Soujner Truth emerged from,” she said. “Unlike what we see today, African women before controlled the trade routes and were very much engaged in multi-culturalism.”
According to Badejo, the effect globalization has had on African culture is immense and diverse.
“Globalization has affected people’s cultural behaviors in different ways,” she said. “The term ‘globalization’ actually emerged in practice, believe it or not, 500 years ago.”
To understand how women’s rights in Africa were eroded and why, Badejo explained the role history played in the transformation.
“Throughout the centuries, women willingly gave up their political power and authority for motherhood and because of wars being fought,” she said. “They went from having ultimate control to a predominantly male- controlled world.”
Badejo also addressed the issue of slavery, and the misconceptions people have about its history.
“Not all people settling in the Western hemisphere were part of slavery,” she said. People on other continents have been enslaved for decades before this even took place.”
To prevent further misconceptions about these issue, Badejo feels it is important for students to understand the history.
“These are the issues we need to put before the next generation,” she said. “If young people don’t understand the world, they will be victimized by it.”
Contact international affairs and non-traditional students reporter Ana Mihajlovic at [email protected]