The philosophy of MAWA is based on the belief that change comes from within. We therefore believe that though we have a culture to be proud of, there are some aspects of our cultural practices that need to be changed, scrapped or modified and this change needs to come from Africans themselves.
Since you cannot modify what you do not know or understand, MAWA includes cultural education in all that we do. To effect changes in some negative cultural practices, especially as regards the place and treatment of women in African cultures, African women need to be educated as to their rights, health issues, environment, the myths and realities of those oppressive cultural practices, etc.
We see this act as equivalent to teaching a man to fish rather than giving him fish every day. So, rather than advocate for a victim of domestic violence, we do violence prevention education, DV education, safety planning, self-esteem building, etc.
We believe that the mélange of African cultures, politics and religions that exist within MAWA will facilitate the acceptance of new and, hopefully, progressive ways as the different levels of exposure and acceptance of new ways by each African group rub off onto the others. The rule of proximity applies.
We believe that for any African program to be successful, the focus has to include family.
We therefore work from a family focus. MAWA is committed to assisting African women attain their full potential in their new American culture by helping them with the transition process from their African past to their American present and future. This transition, MAWA believes, will be even smoother and faster if the woman receives support in all aspects that make her complete, and these include children, family and self-reliance – major African values.
The name “Minnesota African Women’s Association” - MAWA - was carefully thought out in order to give the acronym “MAWA”. MAWA is an African sounding word that also has meaning in some Bantu African languages. Hearing this name, African women would recognize it as something African. The choice of “Association”, rather than other “A” words was also deliberate - we want African women to know that MAWA is a gathering place for them all and that here they have the right to determine the direction, give feedback, suggest improvements and hold the organization accountable to them and their families, etc. And of course, Minnesota had to be in the name because this State is now the cultural and geographic reality of the African women we work with.