Addressing Gender Justice and Colonialism Through Transitional Justice in Africa

Transitional justice is a crucial element for the promotion of human rights, justice, peace, good governance and development in Africa. Africa as a continent with legacies of violence and human rights abuses requires that transitional justice processes expand to include colonialism as an essential period within its mandates in different countries, as colonialism was a violent act that cannot be limited to history as it continues to have resultant effects on all aspects of African life. The effects of colonialism are far-reaching and continuous, as it affected political institutions, social structures that continue to exist within the institutional memories of governance structures in Africa, leading to bad governance and limited development. Transitional justice addresses these effects using both judicial and non-judicial methods; it is understood as (formal and non-formal) policy measures and institutional mechanisms that societies implement in order to overcome past violations, divisions and inequalities in order to create conditions for security and democratic and socio-economic transformation. This policy brief will provide an overview of the types of colonisation that took place, the gendered dynamics of colonialism and the lost political institutions of African women in attempt to promote innovation within transitional justice, specifically in how it views gender justice in Africa. An African feminist approach to transitional justice will be used to frame this policy brief. This counteracts transitional justice’s historical preoccupation with western feminism and the liberal democratic language of women’s rights. This policy brief will also address the historical erasure of women and attribute it to the effects of colonialism on gender relations, ideas of domesticity and production, and the removal of women’s agency in political institutions, their decision-making power and their indigenised women’s rights in Nigeria and Uganda.