Decolonial Feminism: Definition, Prominent Feminists, Significance

Introduction to Decolonial Feminism: Most of the subjects studied today across the world have been widely influenced and developed by western countries and their line of thought. This is due to the widespread colonization that took place a few centuries ago. The population of the colonized nations were taught the western understanding of the world and human relations as the elite modern version and, thus, there is a lingering effect of western culture and thought on these parts of the world. However, after the decolonization movement of the 20th century, people grew conscious of such influence and tried to liberate themselves from western thinking and adapt the subjects according to the perspectives and beliefs of their own land and culture.

Similarly, the humanities and social sciences, such as Western feminism, have been formed in accordance with modernity’s space-time matrix, with the creation of tradition as the dark other of modernity at its centre. Western feminism, based on the invention of liberal modernity as the questionable ideology of liberation and the labelling of all the other approaches as traditional, especially as they are linked to non-Christian cultures, builds its main argument on equality between the sexes and the problems of the patriarchal order.


In 2010, María Lugones coined the term “decolonial feminism” to indicate that via historical and continuous colonialism, our societal understanding of gender has been pushed towards the coloured population. To define indigenous peoples and communities of colour as subhuman, colonists established a “hierarchic, dichotomous distinction between human and non-human” (Lugones,), as well as other dichotomous hierarchies such as men and women. Looking at such a narrative, commonly held by most feminism—at least the recognised and produced since then is identified as “decolonial feminism,” poses substantial issues in the interpretation and comprehension of gender/sex dominance including how to reverse them. Decolonial feminism gathers, examines, and engages in dialogue with knowledge-builders being developed in Latin America and around the world by female scholars, intelligentsia, activists, and combatants, whether or not feminists of African or indigenous origin, mixed-origin, farmers, racially prejudiced migrants, and white academics are oppressed.

Prominent decolonial feminists:

  • Maria Lugones: From the brutal violence of colonialism to the gender-based and racial identities of native and Indigenous women in modern postcolonial communities, Maria Lugones heads the demand for decolonial feminism, arguing for a reassessment of modernism and colonialism through the lens of race, gender, and sexuality.
  • Breny Mendoza: Breny Mendoza is an academic who has contributed greatly to the development of decolonial feminism. Mendoza interprets some of the characteristics of the Latin American political setting with the contributions of decolonial, post-colonial and post-Western philosophies. Mendoza strongly criticises Latin American feminism’s ideological dependency on the theory of Northern academia, emphasising the necessity of developing a Latin American feminist theory that can reason from the viewpoint of Latin Americans. (Lugones, 2010)
  • Ochy Curiel: Ochy Curiel, who began very early to re-elect feminists and women who identified as coloured or native, demonstrates that they have made a significant contribution to the exposure of racism, sexism, and modern forms of colonialism.
  • Iris Hernández: Iris Hernández’s project examines the concept of citizenship asserted by Chile’s sexual diversity movements, LGTBI, and feminist lesbians’ movements, in order to examine how such movements’ methods of reconfiguration and normalisation are efficient for colonialism and imperialism, composing a racially insensitive and liberal ideology that addresses the interests of a few.
  • Rita Segato: The feminist anthropologist Rita Segato is another Latin-American thinker who has lately adopted the appeal of decolonial feminism. She intends to study the connections between the patriarchal system and colonialism along with the relation to communities and state relations, in order to reflect on the cooperation between the feminicidal state, racism and law.

Significance of Decolonial Feminism

The dominant understanding of feminism in today’s world is constructed by Westerners and, as a result, fails to include the vast diversity that exists around the world. As the world becomes more aware of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, geography, sexuality, among others, it has become imperative to provide a framework to understand domination as such. The field of decolonial feminism is an approach to including pluralism in feminism and understanding the different points of view that exist in diverse populations. It provides an opportunity for minorities and different ethnicities to understand their culture better and form unique ways of opposing oppression with their background and circumstances in mind. Decolonial feminism is critical for reducing the western feminist influence on all groups as homogeneous and for developing new methods of combating dominant ideologies with a sense of difference.


We are entering a new wave of feminism, and even though we have made a lot of progress since the first wave, there is still much to consider. The most important of these things is to include intersectionality in this movement. Feminist groups have left out women of colour, LGBTQ women, disabled women, and many others for too long. Decolonial feminism combats this and welcomes intersectionality and includes the issues of all women and their allies. Decolonial Feminism also brings in a fresh way of battling oppression with a resistance strategy that is applicable to everyone and everyday life.


LUGONES, M. (2010). Toward a Decolonial Feminism. Hypatia, 25(4), 742-759. Retrieved July 3, 2021, from

Tlostanova, M. (2010). Decolonial Feminism and the Decolonial Turn. Gender Epistemologies and Eurasian Borderlands, 19–60. doi:10.1057/9780230113923_2 

Minoso, Y. E. (2020). Why We Need Decolonial Feminism: Differentiation and Co-Constitutional Domination in Western Modernity. Afterall.

Lugones, M. (2014). Indigenous Movements and decolonial feminism. Seminario de grado y posgrado, Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University.

Manning, J. (2019). Decolonial Feminist Theory: Embracing the Gendered Colonial Difference in Management & Organisation. Academy of Management.

Velez, E. (2019). Decolonial Feminism at the Intersection: A Critical Reflection on the Relationship Between Decolonial Feminism and Intersectionality. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 33(3), 390-406. doi:10.5325/jspecphil.33.3.0390

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Ruthu is a student of Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, pursuing interdisciplinary studies in international relations, political science and sociology. She is passionate about current affairs, public policies, sustainable development, human rights and quality education. She aspires to have a career in research and academia that allow observation of social reality by combining her subjects and passions in writing.