Gender and Religion

More than 90% of Igbos now identify their religion as Christianity. Though men and women are Christian in almost equal proportions, women's church groups are particularly active and in many, if not most, churches women appear to dominate the everyday activities of the lay congregation. However, men control the official hierarchy of almost every (if not every) denomination.

The impact of Christianity on gender and on the relative status of men and women is a matter of considerable interest and debate. On the one hand, in traditional Igbo religion a number of important deities were considered "female", and women titleholders and priestesses sometimes wielded substantial power. The traditional conception of gods as both female and male contrasts sharply with the Christian belief in a single male god. Some scholars have argued that Christianity, in combination with colonial policies, had the effect of lowering women's status. However, Christianity's role in curtailing polygyny and in promoting more companion-ate models of marriage may also, arguably, have provided women with new leverage in negotiating relationships with men (Smith, 2001b). Few of the vast majority of Igbo women who are Christian would assert (or accept) that Christianity is to blame for whatever discontents they may have with their social role as women. Indeed, most Igbo women seem to view Christianity and church as a refuge from whatever else might be wrong about the world.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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