Change in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

Changes over time in attitudes, beliefs, and practices have been discussed in previous sections. Taken as a whole, these changes paint an ambiguous picture regarding the relative values, rights, and privileges accorded to men and women within Bamileke society. During the precolonial era, women practiced extreme deference toward men and were subject to capture in interchiefdom raiding. On the other hand, women had their own secret societies, were major actors in the local market economy, and held important titled positions within the royal hierarchy. Women's expected deference toward men currently is much milder than in the past, and they no longer need to fear capture. They enjoy expanded economic opportunities, and in some ways are more successful in the rural economy than are men. Nonetheless, they have considerably less access to the state bureaucracy for permits and credit, and attend secondary and higher education less frequently than men. Women in the rural areas often need to fulfill not only their own expected duties in the gendered division of labor, but also those of absentee husbands who have gone to urban areas in search of wage labor. Urban Bamileke women must struggle due to their responsibility to feed their families during an extended period of economic recession. Inequalities within genders, for example between senior inheriting men and their junior noninheriting sons, nephews, and brothers, persist in present-day Bamileke life. Old inequalities between genders and among Bamileke of varying statuses in the traditional title system persist and have been overlaid with new inequalities in economics, politics, and even sexual relations in the era of the AIDS pandemic.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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