Activist Leadership and Questions of Sexuality with Young Women: A South African Story
Abstract

Abstract:

This article maps the work of the Young Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist action research project on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) with young women students at six Southern African universities, coordinated by the African Gender Institute (AGI) at the University of Cape Town. Drawing on the sexuality and gender advocacy work of the project at the Universities of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cape Town, Witwatersrand, and Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, the essay explores the experiences of the young women who are activists for sexual and reproductive health rights on their respective campuses, making the case for feminist activism outside of the classroom as a transformative feminist pedagogy. We argue that such “extra-curricular” projects, imagined through a commitment to African feminist theories and processes, are essential to the possibility of strengthening feminist resilience, innovation, and resistance to neoliberal notions of “young leadership” and “the value of higher education.” The article maps a broad profile of the politics of gender and sexuality in Southern Africa, documents key aspects of the work of the broader project, and goes on to present a detailed analysis of the project’s work on gender and sexuality at the University of Cape Town, along with an analysis of the importance of intersectionality in gender and sexuality education.