Has transatlantic slavery and colonial borders destroyed women in West Africa?

The African Parliament is increasingly equal in gender, but has a strange difference (Figures 1 and 2). The legislatures of South and East Africa are equal, while West Africans are ruled by men. Nigeria Parliament Hall 94 percent are male. The general explanation — tradition, colonial bias, contemporary sexuality, and civil war হয় all fail to explain why West Africa is such an outsider. In West Africa, women’s movements face irresistible obstacles because of their ethnicityReligious divisions, manifested by the transatlantic slave trade.

Figure 1. Percentage of seats held by women in the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly as of January 1, 2021

Map of the world showing the percentage of seats held by women in the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly

Women power indicators, Council on Foreign reportsNS

Does West Africa have a more patriarchal tradition?

No! West Africans respected women’s spiritual strength and moral authority. As they were honored Creator God And the mother of goddesses, priests, oracles, gods and queens. Cosmology supports gender complementarity.

Asante, Igbo and Yoruba also had dual sex systems. There were women Independent Individual areas of network and influence. Market Was controlled by women, who set the rules and punished the wicked. Banding together, women Scold The abusive men and businessmen have come a long way. Independently wealthy women have marshalled their network, commercial intelligence and linguistic skills to improve coastal exports. Back in the 16th century, Hausa Queen Amina was a successful military strategist who led the army and conquered new territories.

Why are women historically important in religion, politics and commerce in the Gulf of Guinea? Tropical rainforest incubated parasites and Pathogen Such as leprosy, dengue and tuberculosis. Many children have died. The high infant mortality combined with the abundance of land maintains a lasting demand for labor. Although societies in the Gulf of Guinea were often patriarchal, it was particularly concerned with control over children (not inheritance). By paying the bride’s wealth, the bridegroom gains control Children. This reverence for fertility may help explain why the initiation rites to celebrate the fertility of women after the first period of a girl were followed. That is why women were respected in creation Creator.

The Gulf of Guinea’s tropical forests were also plagued tsetse Flies kill this parasitic cattle. Elsewhere in Africa, nomadic priesthood spread through patriarchal immigration. Priests kill indigenous men, reproduce with women, and institutionalize male domination. Islam, which spreads through trade routes south of the Sahara, especially within PriestCattle killed tsetse did not reach the area with flies.

So in the Gulf of Guinea, women continue to move freely and maintain autonomy through solidarity. Igbo and Bakweri women Harassment For men Misuse Their wives, violating market rules or damaging their crops. In 19th-century Congo-Brazzaville, a husband would not take “an egg from his chicken coop” Permission From his wife. In the early 20th century, southern Nigeria and cIvory has marshalled their independent network Activate Massively against imperialism (see picture below).

Statue commemorating the Women's March of 1949, C ডিte d'Ivoire.  Source via Ezzoura Errami, Sheldon.
Statue commemorating the Women’s March of 1949, C ডিte d’Ivoire. (Source: Izora Irami, via Sheldon)

But if the Gulf of Guinea has traditionally been relatively gender equal, what does male dominance mean today?

Male bias of the colonists?

Feminists blame the colonists Dearng In the expansion of agriculture and the promotion of the domesticity of men and women in wage labor, male-dominated law, language and Warrant chiefs.

All true. But how big and lasting were those effects? If colonialism can only increase gender inequality Most Prosperity of African men. But the colonial bureaucracy was small, state penetration was weak, agricultural aid was scarce, and the labor market was small. African men have made up the vast majority No. Benefit from colonialism.

The colonists too To ignore Women’s Village Network. But that forbids urban African women from organizing today? Probably not. In South and East Africa, few men benefited as warrants chief, but this did not preclude feminist activism and gender quotas. Uganda now has more women legislators than the United Kingdom

The colonists neglected women, but this does not explain the externalities of West Africa.

Exceptional sex?

Women in the Gulf of Guinea are not exceptionally discriminated against compared to the rest of the continent. Child marriage has ebbed Fast. Women are more employed and entrepreneurs. More than a third of women in Ghana and Nigeria Most directors. Sex gap between Property ownership Southern Nigeria is relatively small. One third of Ghana Supreme Court Judges are women. 20 percent of women Mayor In the capital of West Africa. From Cote d’Ivoire to Cameroon, independently rich “Mama Benz” -massed Mercedes own fleet. While describing their life history, Ghanaian businesswomen focus on themselves Independent Business And commercial intelligence.

Afrobrometer’s nationally representative social surveys suggest male leaders’ priorities West Africa is no more than South or East Africa (although in Niger and Nigeria it is exceptionally high).

Post-conflict transformation?

Civil war and especially Post-conflict Nation-building has given the women’s movement an opportunity to push for gender Quota. Interested for Donor funds, Authoritarian Quotas have often been used to strengthen international legitimacy.

Civil war is not necessary or sufficient to represent women. Liberia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have all been torn apart by the conflict and still have 90 percent men in their parliaments. Meanwhile, Tanzania, Eswatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have implemented gender quotas, although they have not recently gone through civil war. Although many political scientists have blamed Africa’s top female leadership Civil war and authoritarianism, I suggest this because they are looking at the effects of a variable without looking at the whole continent and trying to explain the differences. They are studying the effects of X rather than the causes of Y.

Transatlantic slave trade and colonial borders

In West Africa, ethnic-religious divisions have hampered the formation of mass women’s movements. In order to advance their interests politically, workers must overcome ethnic and religious divisions and not rely on homosexual identities. Women who are initially familiar with their ethnicity may have little appetite for such propaganda, preferring to be ruled by co-ethnicity. An Igbo woman may prefer to be led by an Igbo man than a Hausa woman. Even if women personally support gender quotas, distrust can reduce the desire to invest in sustainable mobility. Activism became scattered.

The slave trade, colonialism, as well as the historical legacy of the advent of Islam and Christianity, have exacerbated all of this.

In the transatlantic slave trade, 12 million Slaves were taken from Africa to America. Other businesses have exported another 6 million. In the struggle for survival (to buy European weapons to protect themselves from slavery), people kidnapped their neighbors, families and Friends.

Intensive campaigning and insecurity have long-term cultural implications, as demonstrated by Nathan Nan and Leonard Wantcheken. African ones Disbelief Others were more likely to avoid capture and then socialize their children to become unbelievers. Today, distrust of relatives, neighbors and local government is more prevalent in places that have been damaged Intensive campaign.

West Africa has suffered the most from the transatlantic slave trade and is now plagued by intense racism. Department, Stratification, And disbelief. Colonial frontier Grouping multiple nationalities into larger states, complicating these effects by imposing nationalities wherever they were. Which one.

The politicization of nationalism also affects the reaction of the President. Ghana’s leaders have always given priority Regional balance. So women are less likely to be recruited in African cabinets where ethnicity is high Politicized.

Figure 3. Ethnic stratification is particularly high in West Africa

Map of Africa that highlights ethnic stratification, especially in West Africa

Source: Holder et al. 2020.

West Africa is also plagued by religious divisions. Muslims make up 43 percent of Nigeria’s population, Ivory Coast 43 percent and Togo 30 percent. Communal violence Has grown exponentially in the last 20 years. Two-thirds of Ghanaian and Cameroonian Christians are Muslims. “ViolentIt hinders feminist activism across the country.

Muslim– Majority countries also show less support for gender equality. In Africa, the level of development of a country (as measured by GDP per capita, human development, size of non-agricultural labor force, urbanization and mass communication) has little effect on gender ideology. Religion is really important.

Gender segregation continues in northern Nigeria. Muslim clerics have strongly opposed women’s rights Law. In Nigerian states, including Sharia law, women are much less likely to work for wages Public Spheres and women have strong opposition Leaders. State governance is irresistible Men. Northern Nigeria, Mali, Niger and Chad have consistently high rates Child marriage.

Unlike northern Nigeria, Senegal has never been Phula is the subject of jihad. Before colonialism, religious leaders were only advisers (not rulers). Senegal also has a majority-Sufi, Believing in a direct, personal connection with God. Religious tolerance has been repeatedly institutionalized by post-colonial leaders and communities. Catholics and Muslims rebuild each other’s mosques and churches. In this more tolerant environment, a stronger Women’s movement Relentlessly lobbying for a gender quota. “Let’s strengthen democracy with gender equality,” they said. Like other African leaders who have broadened women’s leadership, President Wade’s party was selective Influential. This enabled Wade to allocate more seats for women without significant patronage rates. Senegal’s parliament is now 43 percent female, but in West Africa it is the exception.

West African women once exercised authority, such as through duality The sexual system of religious and political rule. Women have maintained influence through their own independent networks. Yet they have suffered the opposite of fate. While women are individually entrepreneurial, the national system of governance is irresistibly male.

Reasonable assumptions, such as patriarchal traditions, colonial masculinity, contemporary sexism, and civil war, fail to explain West Africa’s externalities. West Africa has an exceptionally high ethno-religious divide and mistrust that has been exacerbated by transatlantic slavery. And while feminists usually blame colonial men BiasThe greatest effect of colonialism on patriarchy may be to impose arbitrariness BoundariesWhere the imposed nationality was not.

History is certainly not destiny. Democratization And women’s representation in the legislature promotes gender equality in cabinet portfolios. Urbanization Promotes ethnic unity. Ethnic-religious divisions can also lead to degradation DroughtInduced competition for pasture and sub-national competition for oil rent. But Without transatlantic slave trade and colonial borders, West Africa will have strong feminist alliances and more gender-equal regimes.

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