The AGI and the Nelson Mandela Foundation to co-host Gender Dialogue

The African Gender Institute (AGI) and the Nelson Mandela Foundation are working together in response to a call from Graca Machel to host a Gender in Dialogue within the 12th Nelson Mandela Annual Lectureship series. The Dialogue will be convened by Graca Machel, at the University of Cape Town, on Sunday 10th August 2014.

The choice of a dialogue format responds to contemporary debates on what it means to think through the politics of the day. As a nation, we face the meaning of Marikana, or the deaths of small children in filthy school toilets, dragged cars, or at the hands of rapists, and we grapple with the fact that South Africa remains a society full of economic and social injustice. Where do questions of gender and sexuality fit into our analyses of the context and our discussions on activism and strategy? Do these questions still offer robust and courageous options concerning alternative worlds? 

The Gender Dialogue, entitled Does Gender Still Matter to the Ongoing Work of Political and Economic Liberation, will be convened by UCT Chancellor Graça Machel, hosting Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, as one of the key interlocutors of the morning. The event will be streamed live from the UCT website and will include several influential and interesting speakers, such as the  Executive Director of UN Women, Mbuyiselo Botha who works with Sonke Gender Justice, Zethu Matebeni, a researcher and the host of the recent Queer in Africa HUMA events, and Nomboniso Gasa, one of the most respected feminist activists and writers in the region.  The Vice Chancellor, Dr. Max Price will welcome the speakers, and Dr Sello Hatang, Director of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, will also be present. Associate Professor Jane Bennett and Yaliwe Clarke of the African Gender Institute will convene and facilitate the interaction between invited speakers and the audience. 

About 600 people are expected to attend the event, including South African parliamentarians and  NGO activists (such as GenderDynamiX, Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women, Iranti, Saartjie Baartman Women’s Centre and many others).  Over two hundred UCT students will also be present, many of them from the Gender Studies Department.  

“We are deeply honoured to have been asked to work in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in creating an event in which we simultaneously get a chance to honour Graca Machel, as she comes out of mourning and back into the life of dedicated and inspirational activism she has always led. She has been clear that she hopes for a true and engaged dialogue at the event, not a set of tired clichés about the long road to gender equality or the need to ‘do something’ about gender-based violence (my words, not hers). We will do everything we can to respond to her enthusiasm and courage.” says Professor Bennett, Director of the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics.

The overall theme of the 2014 Nelson Mandela Foundation lecture series is Building social cohesion through active citizenship, a topic that can be distilled into the sub-themes of: education for participation, democratic co-operation through the notion of community and, identity and alienation with a specific focus on youth. The choice to include a strong focus on the politics of gender and sexuality within this exploration of citizenship speaks to the decades-long recognition of work of women such as Dora Tamana, Lilian Ngoyi, Phila Ndwandwe and Bev Ditsie and to the current dynamism of a new generation of African-based feminist writers and gender activists, men, transmen, transwomen, women and everyone in between. 

A follow-up article on Gender in Dialogue will be published online for those who are unable to attend the event. See http://agi.ac.za/