Resource of
Open Minds

WOMEN'S HISTORY MUSEUM

Themes: Gender, Politics, Community, Freedom of Expression,
Region: Southern Africa
Country: Zambia

SHE LEADS

The Women’s History Museum hosts 20-minute podcasts that explore female ‘hidden figures’ in Zambia’s history; women who have contributed to the narrative of Zambia’s historical and contemporary trajectory. The group explores this narrative and challenges the notion that gender inequality and women’s exclusion from leadership positions is a cultural norm. The podcast also examines how women held leadership positions in pre-colonial Zambia, allowing the country to serve as an example of how its culture has been gender-inclusive rather than exclusive. Their purpose is to show that women’s inequality is a learned culture. Zambia has a history of women in leadership positions who contributed to Zambia’s formation but are ‘hidden figures,’ due to the lack of documentation and the gaps in generational historical knowledge. The podcast is a thirteen-episode documentary-style series delving into the leadership roles women held, who they were, and how these women contributed to Zambia’s development. The narrative dates back to the 18th century and is researched and sourced from handwritten anthologies and oral archives. The podcast examines the paradigm shift toward space where women were excluded from participation in decision-making roles and how this might be addressed.

The Women’s History Museum in Zambia was set up in late 2016 with the mission of researching, interpreting, restoring, documenting and disseminating African indigenous knowledge and living histories focused on women. These are histories that have been excised from the mainstream socio-economic and cultural historical narrative as a result of the continent’s colonial legacy and post-colonial tensions. The vision of the museum is to contribute to the knowledge production industry by examining and developing epistemological systems of cultural learning in the local and regional context for a greater appreciation of how women have contributed to knowledge production in Africa.