Sankara: Women’s Rights Advocate, NOT Feminist

Mariam Sankara

President Thomas Sankara is one of Africa’s favorite sons, he had the reputation of having results and getting things done and so it is not uncommon that everyone wants to attach their causes to his name and feminists are no different. They want to further their cause so they are attempting to paint him as a feminist which he was not. Sankara fought for women’s rights which is not feminism. Feminism seeks to create a matriarchal state and is not interested in gender equality but in promoting dysfunction. Sankara was first and foremost about economic empowerment and African solutions to African problems.

At the onset of the Sankara revolution in Burkina Faso women’s rights were a principal goal. Sankara was an advocate for women, but this does not make him a feminist. Feminism is about creating a gender war between men and women and destroying the family unit this is not what Sankara was about. It is important to remember that this was a man who named the country the homeland of the upright. He was a believer in discipline and morality something that feminism is opposed to.

  1. President Sankara was a fierce advocate for women for sure. This was unheard of across the continent in the 1980s, because the United Nations had not made women a priority. Sankara had 5 women in his cabinet before it was trendy to have women in leadership positions. He appointed women to judicial and state agencies and state-run airline and state-owned businesses.
  2. Sankara would not call himself a feminist because he was pro-family and chastised men who did not provide for their families. In his speeches he denounced lazy husbands who did not provide for their families and spent their money on prostitutes.
  3. Sankara outlawed prostitution and created training programs to provide prostitutes with a means of earning a living. Women in Burkina Faso were traditionally low on the power structure and their status was slightly above that of animals. They had little education and Sankara sought to create educational opportunities for women and encouraged them to rally around their own causes such as access to health.
  4. President Sankara believed in equality so naturally because the custom allowed boys to stay in school after they impregnated a girl. Sankara fought for pregnant girls to stay in school so that they could continue with their education.
  5. President Sankara instituted a new code of conduct that instituted a minimum age for marriage in order to protect the girl child. In 2017, advanced nations such as the United States do not have such protections for children.
  6. President Sankara abolished female genital mutilation to protect girls from this heartless practice.
  7. President Sankara outlawed polygamy to protect the family unit he was aggressively pro-family. The practice of polygamy is detrimental to women and wealth building and promotes poverty across Africa.
  8. Sankara’s policies allowed widows to inherit their marital estate something that had not been done before in Burkina Faso. The widows had been left to fend for themselves.
  9. He promoted female entrepreneurship through the establishment of markets run by women.
  10. Sankara constructed 314 maternal health centers to help reduce complications in child-bearing. His policies led to the immunization of 2.5MM children in 1 week which saved Burkinabe babies. In 1985, vaccinations saved 18,000- 50,000 children who usually died of meningitis and measles.