Relative Status of Men and Women

Considerable consensus exists in the characterization of Igbo society as largely sex segregated in terms of economic, political, and social organization, with men and women often engaging in parallel activities and associations rather than cooperating or competing in the same arenas. However, whether the Igbo sex/gender system values men and women relatively equally in their own terms, or whether this system specifically favors men, has been the subject of debate. Several scholars have argued that colonial policy and Christian missionizing had the effect of reducing women's economic and political decision-making powers by abolishing female titles associated with traditional deities, appointing all male chiefs, and moving men into the previously female-dominated marketplace (Amadiume, 1987; van Allen, 1976). In contemporary Nigeria, men clearly dominate public political decision-making and, through their control of land and ascendancy in the nonagricultural marketplace, they are in command of key economic resources. But women are by no means powerless in Igbo society. In addition to the fact that Igbos strongly value women precisely in their roles as daughters/wives/mothers—roles that are culturally celebrated rather than denigrated—the fact that Igbo women are organized collectively in associations that parallel men's organizations means that women can wield considerable collective power and often do so when they feel their interests have been compromised.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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