The revolt against white rule in Rhodesia nurtured incipient local feminisms in women who imagined independence as a road to gender equity and ecomic justice. But the country's rebirth as Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe's rise to power dashed these hopes. Using history, literature, participant observation, and interviews, Carolyn Martin Shaw surveys Zimbabwean feminisms from the colonial era to today. She examines how actions as seemingly disparate as an ability to bake scones during the revolution and achieving power within a marriage in fact represent complex sources of female empowerment. She also presents the ways women across Zimbabwean society--rural and urban, professional and domestic--accommodated or confronted post-independence setbacks. Finally, Shaw offers perspectives on the ways contemporary Zimbabwean women depart from the prevailing view that feminism is a Western imposition having little to do with African women. The result of thirty years of experience, Women and Power in Zimbabwe addresses what happened when a generation of African women deferred their dreams of empowerment.
Carolyn Martin Shaw is a professor emerita of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya .