WAAD Conference: Women in Africa & African Diaspora, 10/01

WAAD Conference: Women in Africa & African Diaspora, 10/01

Third International Conference on Women in Africa & the African Diaspora




(OCTOBER 8-17, 2001)

CONTACT: Obioma Nnaemeka, Convener, Third WAAD Conference,Women's Studies Program, Cavanaugh Hall Room 001C, Indiana University, 425 University Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Phone: (317) 278-2038, (317) 274-7611 or (317) 274-0062 (messages), fax: (317) 274-2347, e-mail: (PLEASE USE E-MAIL FOR FASTER SERVICE).

"Onye amaro ebe nmili si bido mabaya ama ama onye nyelu ya akwa oji welu ficha aru" (Igbo proverb)/If you do not remember where the rain started to beat you, you will not remember who gave you the towel with which to dry your body.

The relationship between history/memory and progress evident in the above Igbo proverb reflects the Janus-faced enterprise that will be undertaken by the third international conference on Women in Africa and African Diaspora (WAAD III), to be held in magnificent Madagascar at the dawn of a new millennium (October 2001). In the tradition of WAAD conferences, WAAD III will focus on issues relating to women of African descent but more than before, the meeting in Madagascar will draw attention to the urgency and pertinence of a sense of history as participants engage simultaneously in stocktaking and mapping forward-looking strategies for future engagements.

WAAD has its own history. The first conference (WAAD I), which was held in 1992 in the rural Igbo town of Nsukka (Nigeria), brought together over 700 men and women from all continents. The sub-theme of WAAD I, "Bridges across Activism and the Academy," underscores the conference's primary goal of providing an arena for the equal participation of researchers and grassroots women, men, and organizations. The second conference held in the American city of Indianapolis in October 1998 gathered hundreds of participants from 35 countries and 48 national and international organizations to examine issues related to the health and human rights of women of African descent. This third conference to be held in the historic and beautiful island of Madagascar will examine, in cross-disciplinary terms, gender in relation to history, the arts, peace, democracy, and development.

As we enter a new age, what should be the African response to non-African structures as they relate to women and gender, gender synthesis, etc.? What constitutes the Africanness of the woman? What is "woman" in Africa and the Diaspora? An examination of any of these issues and questions directs an inward look into the African political, cultural and socio-economic structures and history in order to engage development. What kind of development? Whose development?

Discussing the issue of development, K. Y. Amoako, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa asserts that "Africa is experiencing a renaissance." What is the gender implication of this renaissance? Can women in Africa and the African Diaspora traverse the millennial highway with their male counterparts?

What techniques, tools or skills are needed for this enterprise? Constructive analysis of governance, race relations, economic and legal reforms, war and peace, cultural norms, oral and written literatures, the media and information technology aimed at gender-friendly reconstruction is the starting point of engagement for the WAAD III gathering of individuals and organizations.

WAAD does not discriminate on the basis of gender, class, race, religious affiliation, ethnicity, national origin, etc. Researchers, students, activists and policy makers, members of the media, writers and artists as well as all those who are interested in issues relating to women in Africa and the African Diaspora are invited to participate in this conference.

There will be keynote/plenary speeches, panel presentations, workshops, forums, town-meetings, art exhibitions, photo/slide presentations, and film screening. Because the conference is designed to encourage maximum participation from students and grassroots men, women, and organizations, we will create an environment conducive to a free flow of information and exchanges.

English and French are the official languages of WAAD. Proposals and papers in both languages will be accepted.

We expect papers that deal with the nature, strengths and weaknesses of gender as well as the forces and structures that impact gender, those that have continued to shape gender, and those that are expected to influence it in the new millennium. Aspects of this broad field should be tackled as they relate to various fields and concerns such culture, theory, arts, development, economy, education, politics, science, ethnicity and diversity, war and peace, post/neo-colonialism, globalization etc.

Papers should address concepts, theoretical questions, and issues such as womanism, feminism, gender, biologism, sex and sexualities, masculinities, race/racism/race relations, female underdevelopment, patriarchy, gender education, structural inequality, motherhood, empowerment, power systems, polygamy, matriarchy, gender attitude etc. Is gender significant in the social, political and economic agenda of African states? What is the panacea for change--gender rhetoric, symbolic action, tokens, policies, civil disobedience, non-violence strategies, etc.? In light of the multiple relegation of women due to race, gender, class and caste, etc., how should government policies and programs be packaged and targeted?

CONFLICTS/PEACE, IMMIGRATION, HUMAN RIGHTS & THE LAW: How do issues such as women's rights, human rights, and legislation relate to rape, femicide, and other forms of violence against women? How do African traditional institutions and practices such as circumcision, marriage, family, widowhood rites and ceremonies construct "woman"? What is the status of women in traditional, statutory, religious (Islamic, Christian etc.) and international laws? How have global emigration, border-crossing and immigration policies affected women in Africa and the African Dispora? What are the consequences of wars/social conflicts on women not only as victims of wars but also as makers of peace?

We expect papers to address issues in traditional and modern health delivery systems; evaluate health care policies and research, sanitation services, cultural practices related to women's health, and child and maternal care; rethink issues in children's socialization, aging, emotional and mental health, and propose strategies for tackling endemic diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, cancer and tuberculosis.

Construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of images and myths (of women and gender) that inhibit progress are major issues in the discipline. Papers should address African/African Diaspora gender construction, reconstruction, influences and projection in the work of story-tellers, writers, poets, artists, dramatists, performers, musicians, film-makers, information technicians, and media experts. What is and should be the place of women in professions in the arts (film, theater, plastic and fine arts etc.), publishing, information technology, and communication? What role does/should the arts play in development?

The nature and value of existing education/educational systems will be investigated. Is the colonial/Western-oriented education adequate in preparing Africans to question gender realities and women's education, tackle the massive globalization and aggressive world capital, and transform rather than conform to such realities? What are the prospects of non-institutionalized education--radio, video, the television and tele-centers? Is there a place or need for feminist/womanist/gender conscientization in the educational systems?

The gap between Africa and African Diaspora as well as widening gulf between African and Caucasian worlds are of serious concern--women and governance, democratization, militarization, activism, constitutional changes, war, peace and security, African women and global economy, prospects of small holdings and free market in the reign of capitalism, pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial experience and complexes, indigenisation, privatization, non governmental organizations (NGOs), political and economic emancipation, urban/rural, African/Diaspora, north/south, role/work are possible areas of investigation.

What is the status of women in the old and new religions, sects and cults? What is its impact on the new world order, diversity and feminist/womanist ideology/theology? What is the role/use of religion in women's predicament/lives and what are the prospects for women's development and empowerment?

Traditional and modern science, the role of women in science and the use of science for women and gender categorizations are important areas of concern. For example, the implications of male-centered and women-hostile equipment are topical issues.

Papers should use the broad perspective of culture to engage any aspect of the above categories in their inter-connectedness. For example, traditional role-sharing can intersect with marital stress which is a health issue and poverty which is an economic issue.

The regionalization of WAAD operations will allow the different regions (through the country representatives and regional co-ordinators) to bring to the the table agendas which reflect regional realities and specificity. The conference will provide a fertile ground for networking as participants search for solutions to these issues in their uniqueness and similarities.


Please indicate your interest in the following categories:

----Attend the conference ----*Present a paper ----*Organize a panel, workshop, or exhibition


----Chair a session, serve as discussant, resource person, or other (specify/area of interest):

Name (add title):

Institutional Affiliation:









AAWS Members$125
Students(Copy of ID required)$95

Make checks (to be drawn on US banks) payable to: ASSOCIATION OF AFRICAN WOMEN SCHOLARS

MAIL TO:Obioma Nnaemeka, Convener, Third WAAD Conference, Women's Studies Program, Cavanaugh Hall Room 540, Indiana University, 425 University Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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