Nigerian Gender Roles Angel & Tais


During this time, women were not subordinated to men, but complementary. Women had an important role in social, economic, and trading activities. Senior women were involved in activities outside of the household to provide for the family. This showed their abilities in controlling the household which lead to power and some influence. As jobs, women did food processing, mat weaving, pottery making, and cooking. Although women had very important roles, they didn't own land or have much say. ("Women in Pre-Colonial Nigeria")


Many things changed when British colonials and missionaries came. Women became subordinate to men. They lost many positions and occupations in society. They got pushed to less demanding crops with lower returns because women were supposedly disrespectful if they are financially independent. Only women were suppose to be home with the children and do other domestic chores. The government even passed an indirect law that stopped women from taking care of their family. Some people were upset and lead to protesting. ("Women in Colonial Nigeria")


“The girl should go to Ogbuefi Udo to replace his murdered wife. As for the boy he belonged to the clan” (Achebe 12). There is clear gender roles that women are property and men are warriors.

“‘Sit like a woman!’ Okonkwo shouted at her. Ezinma brought her two legs together and stretched them in front of her” (Achebe 44). Women have a way to represent themselves and having your legs open is not one.

”They do not decide bride-price as we do, with sticks. They haggle and bargain as if they were buying a goat or a cow in the market” (Achebe 73). Women are seen as literal meat by the Ibo clan because they buy are bought like livestock.


Men were the warriors and protector of the society. They were the head of a household and defined the worth of it. The amount of farmland was also a key factor. They had multiple children and multiple wives too. When the sons reached the age of manhood, they took on the similar role his elder men had. (Achebe chapter 1-9)


“He had to support his mother and two sisters from his meagre harvest” (Achebe 22). Men support the women as if they are unable to care for themselves.

”No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man” (Achebe 53). In this society men are in control and were looked down upon if they weren’t.

"'This meeting is for men' The man who had contradicted him had no titles. That was why he called him a woman. Okonkwo knew how to kill a mans spirit" (Achebe 26). As a woman in this society you had no use other than being a house wife if a man had nothing going for him he would be seen as a women.


Men gained many new roles and kept the old roles. They took over marketing by cultivating cash crops and were favored in education ("Women in Pre-Colonial Nigeria"). Women chiefs became less significant because male chiefs worked with Britain on collecting taxes. Men took a more dominant role over women. They were still leader and warriors with multiple children and wives. ("Women in Colonial Nigeria")



"The restrictions that colonial governments placed on women changed the position of women in indenting us societies. In Nigeria, the colonial state passed legislation restrictions on women" ("Women in Colonial Nigeria").

Work Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe. New York, NY: Spark, 2014. Print. Falola, Toyin O.

"The Role of Nigerian Women."Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

"Women in Pre-Colonial Nigeria." Women in Pre-Colonial Nigeria. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

"Women in Colonial Nigeria." Women in Colonial Nigeria. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

Created By
Angel Promsiri


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