This article provides a brief review of the place of tradition in restructuring women's social status and rights in contemporary Africa. Using Nigeria as a case study, the analysis traces women's historical progression from the pre-colonial era, their absorption into the colonial society, and progress in the post-independence era. The paper outlines their legal status over this entire period as a crucial basis for initiating the struggle to improve their social position. The final section makes a case, outlining the challenges, for reconfiguring the cultural basis for advancing their social status and rights. The author draws attention to certain developments on the international scene which could boost women's struggle to improve their lot across the continent. As noted in the analysis, one cannot overlook the specificity of women's experiences across the continent as well as the complexity of social relations which give meaning to gender as category of analysis. Hence, the purpose of this article is to highlight an important factor which the struggle for African women's rights and social status must confront, using the example of women in a specific social context.


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pp. 48-63
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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