Status Of Women In Society Essay, Research Paper

There are several ways one can look at the position of adult females in any society. During the last decennary at least three attacks, non needfully reciprocally sole, were discernable. One was to analyze the common demographic indexs that give an overall image of adult females & # 8217 ; s comparative standing vis- ? -vis work forces. Harmonizing to the 1981 nose count, the Se ratio stood at 933 females per 1000 males. The literacy rate was 46.89 per cent for males and 24.82 per cent for females. The life anticipation at birth for females was 50 old ages and for males it was 50.9 old ages. The mean age at matrimony for females was 18.32 old ages and for males it was 23.27 old ages. The female work engagement rate was 13.99 per centum and the male work engagement rate was 51.62 per centum. Figures sing economic engagement rate for adult females have really small significance as the definition of a worker has changed from one nose count to other. ( Rehana Ghadially 1988 p.5 ) As a survey by Australian demographist John C. Caldwell strongly demonstrates, for both work forces and adult females in Ibo traditional society many kids have been the surest and stronger beginning of prestigiousness. In the Ibo society, staying single is an utmost societal divergency. It was considered cardinal to adult male & # 8217 ; s nature to engender, and adult females & # 8217 ; s to gestate and bear, kids. For adult females, matrimony traditionally brought a assortment of economic duties and frequently merely one beginning of both awards and security: their kids. Harmonizing to the Ibo tradition the adult male had to pay the household of the bride a bride monetary value to procure her matrimony. The payment was given in exchange for the economic value of adult female to her hubby in her labour and her kids. Hence, for the hubby and married woman matrimony was every bit much as anything else an economic compact. ( James L. Newman, 1995, p.122 ) Customs regulating division of labour, rights to land and to kids varied widely. However, while a adult female was married her hubby by and large held her labour and its fruits steadfastly within its appreciation. In add-on, the brides normally went to populate with her hubby & # 8217 ; s family, and she was dependent on this group in which she was a practical foreigner. ( Jennifer Seymour Whitaker, 1990, p. 99 ) Once involved with her new family, an Ibo adult female frequently lived a life rather separate economically from that of her hubby, in which the basic unit was herself and her kids. She was normally expected to cook her hubby & # 8217 ; s nutrient, to bear kids on a regular basis, and to feed and dress the kids as good. Her hubby traditionally provided her with a hut and some land to farm. She supported her household by working the land allotted to her and by trading. Women normally did most of the cultivation. Therefore, it was accepted that adult females got plentiful land, and had rights to parts of household land for their ain usage, Often their excess was theirs to maintain ; at other times they sold it to their hubbies ; sometimes their hubbies kept it themselves. In any event, even though the adult females besides did most of the cultivation on their hubby & # 8217 ; s land, they did non portion in their hubby & # 8217 ; s income. Nor, when their hubbies died, did the adult females inherit their belongings, which went to their boies or sometimes, to the boies of the hubby & # 8217 ; s sisters. ( P.98 ) Furthermore, a adult female herself is frequently inherited by her hubby & # 8217 ; s brother, who marries her to give her place and maintain her generative powers in the household. However, finally, even more than work forces, adult females had to depend on their kids for their economic well being, and, in their old age, for their endurance. Between hubby and married woman, common regard was the most of import personal bond. Intimate company or & # 8220 ; love & # 8221 ; in the sense we describe it was rare. Ibo adult females were expected to portion their hubbies with other married womans. And in their competition for their hubby & # 8217 ; s respect, award grew most of all with the Numberss of kids one gave her hubby and his household. ( p. 97-102 ) As I reference before, being a female parent was the most of import function for an Ibo adult female. It brings her prestigiousness, pride, regard, and felicity. Therefore, traditionally, a failure to give birth would convey desperation to the sterile adult female. Her hubby & # 8217 ; s reaction would be barbarous. In Buchi Emecheta & # 8217 ; s novel The Joys Of Motherhood, for illustration, Nnu Ego & # 8217 ; s first hubby tells her frankly why he no longer wants her, stating, & # 8220 ; I am a busy adult male. I have no clip to blow my cherished male seed on a adult female who is sterile. I have to raise kids for my line & # 8221 ; ( p.32 ) In add-on, the adult female & # 8217 ; s position would alter ; if she must return to her ain household, her family are frequently loth to take back a waste adult female whose bride monetary value possibly confiscate everlastingly ; if he stays in her hubby & # 8217 ; s compound, her position will be less than that of other married womans, and in times of problems she might be turned a whipping boy. At this point, she might be suspected of being a enchantress. In any event, she is left with no acceptable function to play in the universe she was reared to populate. ( Whitaker, p. 101 ) Womans of the same natal small town or small town group might get married far and broad, but traditionally they would come together sporadically in meetings frequently called ogbo ( an Ibo word for garnering & # 8221 ; ) . The umuada & # 8217 ; s ( girls of a line of descent ) most ritual map was at funerals of line of descent members, since no 1 could hold a proper funeral

without their ritual participation. This gave these women a significant measure of power. They also helped to settle disputes among their natal and marital lineages. During the british colonial period the term “gathering” came to be called mikri or mitri ( the igbo version of the English “meeting”). ” The Mikri appears to have performed the major role in daily self rule among in daily self rule among women and to have articulated women’s intersts as opposed to those of men. Mikri provided womenwith a forum in which to develop their political talents and with a means of protecting their interests as traders, farmers, wives, and mothers.” (Judit Van Allen, 1990, p.24) They, for instance, made decisions to protect their fruitfulnessof women and of their farms. And if violations against one of them was occurred, they used to “sit on” the offender or go on strike. At this point, I would like to point out that the men of the Ibo society regarded the mikri as legitimate. (p.24) Looking at the present situtation, it is very difficult to know how firmly fixed traditional beliefs remian. What is clear is that the desire of the Ibo and africans in general to have many children reamins much higher than that of people in any other region of the world. Still given the primacy of fertility, it is not surprising that in many African societies motherhood is endowed with a mystique of near sacredness and carried with strong emotion. Among Nigeria’s Ibo today, many village women aspire above all to belong to the society of Those Whom God Have Blessed. To join those ranks, a woman must have ten pregnancies. (Whitaker, p. 103 100) The position of women in Nigerian and African society appears to be a mojor contibuting cause of Africa’s food shotages. As I mentioned before, women were always subordiante to men. Nevertheless, women’s control of their economic destinies has declined since the British colonial era. The British created a system that weakened women’s position in the Ibo society. As a result these women rebelled against this phenomenon and taxation. Althouhg it had been hard to end this women’s war, their situation did not change at all. Today, in total, women work much longer hours than most men with consequent effects on their productivity as farmers. The land is still commonly passed to the eldest son. Women’s access to land most often depends on having a living husband. For the most part women do not control the use of the land; they are not allowed to decide what crops to plant. And moreover, wives are dependent on their husband’s approval before starting a farming operation, employing a sharecropper or getting a loan from the local credit union. (p.152-153) Almost everywhere women’s negligible rights to land make it extremely difficult for them to gian credit ontheir own. In many instances, women are not permitted to participate in the cooperatives that often control credit as well as transport and marketing. Nor do wives have the right to to receive the income from cash crops. (p.154) Hence, one can conclude that the Ibo women’s rights to land since the colonial era has become worse than before. In Marlise Simon’s article “African Women in France BattlingPloygamy,” on can notice that the tradition of having more than one woman as wife has lasted. There is a widespread practice of polygamy in France; The only difference is that these Africans immigrants, who brought this custom, are Muslims. “In Paris area alone, it is estimated that 200,000 people live in polygamous families.” Simons says that African women in France are fighting the tradition ; they rebel against the phenomenon and their husband’s abuse. He also adds theat ” The Interior Ministry has already said it will not give a residence permit to more than one wife.” In any event, Polygamy has not restricted in the African society, and there is a long way until it will be enforced. In general, the colonial period has worsened the position of most women, whether in daily life or work. They were more manipulated than before. When husbands and brothers had to leave home on forced labor, or as migants seeking the money to pay tax and to buy useful things as farming tools, wives and sisters were left with more work than before: in gardens, in the fields, in the home. Through all the long social crisis of the Great Depression and the Second World War, women had to bear the heaviest burdens of poverty and oppersion. These burdens, for example, are depicted in Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood. Gross inequalities between men and women have generally prevailed. However, some progress has been made against them, and continues to be made. Girls and young women found new educational opportunities, and adult women have also joined in the drive for education, attending literacy classes and various forms of vocational training, while a wider range of jobs has become available for women in towns. Beyond this, women, too, have begun to join to gether in self defence so as to claim, and sometimes, get a better status in society. Several African countries, by the 1980’s, had vigorous organizations for the advancement of women, staffed and run by women, forming their own programs for the benefit of women. None of this had been possible during colonial times. (Basil Davidson, 1994, p.186-191)

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