Skyline University Nigeria

The Dilemma of Women in Nigeria and African Societies

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a woman as an adult female human being. The roles of women in the society cannot be overemphasized (Ajayi, 2014). According to Kalu et al (2018) Nigerian women have been playing important roles in politics and in building the political structure of Nigeria. This can be exemplified by the activities of some women in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigeria. In no particular order, notable personalities among these women include Olufunmilayo Kuti, Madam Tinubu, Margaret Ekpo, Queen Amina, Prof Adetoun Ogunseye, Prof. Grace Alele Williams, Ladi Kwali, Mariam Babangida, Prof. Dora Akunyuli, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala among several others.

The enormous roles played by women at the home front is so important to the survival of the society as women contribute in no small measure to the socialization of newborn and other members of the society (Ajayi, 2014). They also play economic roles which involve trading and managing resources available at home for the family. In addition, women instill religious values in members of the family. Besides the traditional roles of women which involve procreation and rearing of children, cooking and housekeeping; in recent times, the roles of women cut across all spheres of endeavors such that it is now difficult to have a clear-cut distinction between the roles of men and women.

Today, women are found in careers that used to be reserved exclusively for men. This brought about a lot of challenges and role conflict which calls for attention. For instance, women in contemporary times have to play the role of a wife, mother and career woman at the same time. Unfortunately, some of the services offered by women are unpaid. No one pays a woman for cooking for the family, for babysitting, or washing clothes of family members. It is a general assumption that such duties belong to women especially wives and mothers. Yet, the same woman who does household chores is expected to resume work and close at the same time as her male counterparts. The same woman is expected to carry pregnancy all through the nine months gestation period and meet the target of the organization that employed her. Conversely, this same woman is seen by most African societies as a second-class citizen who should be humble and subservient to her husband and the male folks. This indeed is the dilemma of women in Nigeria and African societies.

Preference for male children and the humiliating treatment of widows among other challenges such as genital mutilation, forced marriage, underage marriage and in recent years kidnapping, abduction and forceful conversion of girls or women to another religion against their wish by terrorist groups coupled with denial of opportunity for western education has become an Albatross around the neck militating against the wellbeing of women in some parts of Africa.

The clarion call is on all and sundry to recognize the fact that all men and women are created equal as noted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and also documented in America’s Declaration of independence. No man or woman should be subservient to another. We can easily surmount the challenges facing women today if we are ready to put all hands on deck for the emancipation and liberation of women.


Ajayi, O.A (2014). Contemporary challenges in roles of women and students’ academic performances in Ilorin South L.G.A. Kwara State. A PGDE Dissertation submitted to National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 (NY: Schocken Books, 1971; reprinted from T. Fisher Unwin edition, 1898), p. 20.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Collections of the Library of Congress (

Kalu, K. Yacob-Haliso, O., Falola, T (2018). Youth and Big Men Politics Ngozi Nwogwugwu Africa‟s Big Men London: Routledge. 136-155.

Merriam Webster Dictionary


Dr. Ajayi, O.A is a Lecturer1 at the School of Art, Management and Social Science, Skyline University Nigeria (SUN). He has completed his PhD in Sociology at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. .

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