Fainos Mangena


In the field of ethics, women have been portrayed as inferior to men due to androcentric attitudes (male-dominated ethics) that seems to define men as custodians of what is right or wrong. This andro-centric ethic has taken women out of the academic limelight as they are portrayed as less able to make valuable contributions in philosophy (ethics) and other fields of academic inquiry. It is encouraging to see feminist movements emerging, in the twenty-first century, to challenge this misplaced kind of thinking. This challenge is laudable and in this paper, I make an attempt to show that while women in the West have fought for their place in society resulting in developing ‘the ethics of care,’ women from Africa are still struggling to find their feet. The African woman’s moral point of view is still far from being respected because of the whims and caprices of patriarchy which is camouflaged in the communitarian philosophy of hunhu or ubuntu. Against this background, the paper seeks to show that an African feminist ethic can be developed and the fight for public recognition must begin in the home, taking cognizance of the fact that African women face several challenges as custodians of value. The paper argues that reclaiming motherhood in the context of the fight against HIV and AIDS will be a key step towards the realisation of African women’s moral vision.

Note on the Author

Fainos Mangena, Centre for Leadership Ethics in Africa, University of Fort Hare