De-patriarchalising and levelling science for French-speaking women

Elsevier, The Lancet, Volume 393, Issue 10171, 9–15 February 2019, Pages 23-24.
Authors: 
Samiratou Ouédraog, Lara Gautier, Muriel Mac-Seingde, StellaTined, Myriam Perez, Kadidiato Kadiodgh, Roland Chegno and Catherine Jonesi.

French is the only language other than English that is spoken on all five continents, with the potential of being the most commonly spoken language in the world by 2050. The International Organization of La Francophonie has integrated into its mission the promotion of women in leadership positions. However, the empowerment of women in France and in French colonies has been a continuous battle: the broader context of womens' conditions in French society has crucially affected the portrayal of women in countries speaking this language. Women in French-speaking colonies had to live through a double subjugation—that of men and colonisers. Following decolonisation, these women were raised alongside a patriarchal heritage that heavily shaped their societies, embedded in complexity to which the responses of Western feminist frames of empowerment offered no quick fix. For decades, access to university remained a male privilege. This patriarchal background frames the so-called patriarchal science. The Africa-led philosophical movement of decolonialising science aiming to decolonialise people's minds could provide an opportunity for de-patriarchalising science in French-speaking low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa. The movement promotes abandoning the usual and conservative paths of scientific and intellectual production, moving towards alternative approaches (humanistic, open-minded, equitable) wherein French-speaking women scientists from LMICs would have more access, visibility, and shared power in knowledge processes.