You are on page 1of 6

Colon-Johnson 1

Jazmyn Colon-Johnson


English 102

18 March 2017

African Women Struggles

In todays society some women are looked at as strong individuals and caregivers. In

certain countries women are only praised for nurturing after their young. In Africa, women are

sometimes looked at as weak and less than a man. Individuals begin to question why are African

women treated unequally. In order to determine this, four questions must be considered:

1. How are women in Africa treated?

2. What are some gender inequality issues in Africa?
3. How do the African males view their African women?
4. What federal laws are placed to help women in Africa be able to get an


The following literature review will discuss the inequality that African women face, how its

being solved, and how the opposite sex is contributing to the inequality African women face.

How are women in Africa treated?

Women in Africa have been mistreated for a long time. Because women are mistreated

they face many obstacles. For example, Shamim Meer mentions in her book how the liberation

struggle in South Africa highlighted racial and class oppression as key causes of poverty,

inequality, and a lack of rights for most South African women (Meer). This shows that African

women are treated unequally because of their race and their social class. Most African women

are in a lower social class because they are denied education. Alanna Shaikh explains how
Colon-Johnson 2

Women are under-represented in secondary and tertiary educationthis reduces womens

economic opportunities, and leaves them more likely to end up in weak or precarious

employment" (Shaikh). African woman are denied from education thus making them to be more

likely to become unemployed. The HNDP 2015 Human Development Report collected data on

the mean years of schooling in Africa. This is shown in Figure 1. The graph shows how men

have more years of schooling than girls. Even though men have more schooling, they still are not

very educated. The highest level of education that a man has got in figure 1 is seven years of


Figure 1:
Colon-Johnson 3

Women in Africa are not only denied education but they face sexual and physical

violence. Alanna Shaikh explains how African women face domestic violence, intimate partner

violence, rape, female genital mutilation, intimidation, and additional threats to womens

personal security in periods of war and conflict (Shaikh). This shows that African women face

many obstacles. African women are treated poorly due to many factors. The limitation on their

educations plays a big part. African women are victims of poverty because their education is

limited in their country. These women are constantly facing violent measures and this leads them

into being victims in their own country.

What are some gender inequality issues in Africa?

Men are more likely to succeed in Africa than women because they have a better

opportunity at getting an education. Additional research shows that families would rather send

their boys to schools than girls. The online article from the United Nations explains how "When

families face economic problems they prefer to invest their limited resources in the education of

boys rather than provide what is considered as 'prestigious' education for girls who would

eventually marry and abandon their professions anyway" (United Nation). This shows that girls

in Africa are considered to be house wives and not a career woman. Because Africa is a poor

country, families chose to spend their money on the boy instead of paying for both children.

Young girls suffer a lot from this because they are not educated they are just treated as property.

Once African women actually get a job they are treated unfairly. The online article from the

United Nations explains how there is often more respect for male professionals (even from

women themselves) than there is for females (United Nation). Because African people view the

male as dominate people tend to respect them more than females. This shows that females in

Africa are in a society dominated by male power. In a journal article by Damiano K. Manda he
Colon-Johnson 4

explains how some of the inequities are embedded in the deep-rooted cultural norms and beliefs

in the African societies (Manda). It is normal in Africa for the male to be dominating and for the

male to be the breed winner in the family. Women in Africa face inequality issues because their

culture accepts unequal treatment of women. It is normal in Africa for the women to not be

educated and to not be self sufficient.

How do the African males view their women?

Everyone has a different point of view when dealing with certain issues. For example, not

all African males view their women as property. In a BBC News article, the artist, Nana Kofi

Acquah says "For me, feminism is when we can create a world where a woman has the same

rights as a man (BBC News). He also says, I believe my daughter has the same rights as my

sons (BBC News). This African man wants his daughter to become just as successful as a man.

This shows that some men in Africa do not all think that women are property. However, Sabella

Ogbobode Abidde says that "For men, life is all about power and a can-do-attitude; it is about

me, therefore me. Men have an exaggerated sense of entitlement" (Abidde). Some men in

Africa do view their women as property and focus on themselves. I interview a fellow

Hamptonian about her Nigerian parents. I asked her the following questions: Do you think your

father looks at your mother as his equal? If so explain why? Does your father support you for

getting an education? If so how has he done that throughout your life? The student replied by

telling me that her father does look at her mother as his equal. She said that he still believes that

as a women, she has certain responsibilities but he helps with household duties too. She also said

that her father supports her more than anyone in regards to getting an education. She says that

education is a very important and precious opportunity in African culture. This shows that not all
Colon-Johnson 5

men in Africa are cruel to their women. This man supports his daughter and his wife but he does

think that his wife should keep up with household duties.

What federal laws are placed to help women in Africa be able to get an education?

There are some laws that are placed to help women in Africa. David Gartner states that "In

Nigeria, the federal government argued that education was not a legal entitlement. But in a

decision that could have implications across Africa, the court found Nigeria in breach of Article

17 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which states that, every individual

shall have the right to education (Gartner). Some governments in Africa are fighting for African

womens rights. In an online journal by Rachel Rebouch, she states that "Article 18(3) requires

states to eliminate every discrimination against women and also ensure the protection of the

rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions"

(Rebouch). This shows that there are laws being placed to help African women.


African women have been struggling a lot throughout their life time. Sometimes they are

looked at as just caregivers but they can be so much more than that. African women are limited

in their society because males are dominating a lot of things in Africa. Certain cultures in Africa

focuses on building up the male and they forget to build up and support the African women.

There are some laws in place that focuses on equality for women in Africa but they are not

always followed. The only way to give African women equal right is for the African culture to

accept their women as equal beings just as they accept their men.
Colon-Johnson 6

Works Citied

Abidde, Sabella Ogbobode. "The Problem with African Men and African Women." The Problem

with African Men and African Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

Damiano K. Manda, Samuel Mwakubo; Gender and Economic Development in Africa: An

Overview. J Afr Econ 2014; 23 (suppl_1): i4-i17. doi: 10.1093/jae/ejt021

Gartner, David. "The Right to Education in Africa | Brookings Institution." Brookings.

Brookings, 28 July 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

"In Pictures: A Male Feminist's View on African Women." BBC News. BBC, 28 Oct. 2014.

Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Manda, D. K., and S. Mwakubo. "Gender and Economic Development in Africa: An Overview."

Journal of African Economies 23.Suppl 1 (2014): I4-I17. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

"Overall Status of Women in Africa." Overall Status of Women in Africa. United Nations

University, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

Rebouch, Rachel. Labor, Land, and Womens Rights in Africa. Challenges for the New

Protocol on the Rights of Women. Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 19,

Spring2006, pp. 235-256. EBSCOhost.

Shaikh, Alanna. "Report: Women in Africa Face Profound Gender Inequalities and Those

Inequalities Do Great Economic Harm to Individuals and Nations." UN Dispatch. N.p.,

02 Sept. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.