Impact of European Colonialism and Imperialism on African Women

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Effect of European Imperialism on African Women

What effect did the European imperialism in Africa have on the women of both continents? And was this effect advantageous or injurious to the women themselves? Judging by the extremely limited amount of information available on the subject, one could conclude probably a very minimal one. However, upon further investigation, one can see that this effect, although ignored by historians, was very profound and real to the women who lived in Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The majority of the information obtained is about the impact of imperialism on the women of Africa, which is to be expected in today's politically-correct society. However, this causes some difficulty in understanding the consequences of imperialism for women in Europe. Thus that topic won't be addressed here. In Africa, however, the European colonialism completely altered a lifestyle and culture, particularly the roles of women in that culture (Gross and Bingham volume II 52). There is some disagreement as to whether the effects of European imperialism over Africa were detrimental to the progress of women.

It's difficult to understand the effects that Europe had on Africa until one comprehends the state of living for the women before Europeans embarked upon their colonialism. Women were traditionally considered equals or near equals to men in many aspects of some African societies. Farming was the primary occupation of almost every African woman (Gross and Bingham volume I 70). Women were a significant part of the work force and essential to their families' survival (Gross and Bingham volume I 53). Many tribes had female chiefs, and females were given other high-ranki...

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"French in West Africa." University of Pennsylvania African Studies. Online. Internet. 27 Feb. 2000. Available. <http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/k-12/french_16178.html>.

"Gender, Culture, and Class in Walter Rodney's Writings on Guyana." Saxakali-Publications. Online. Internet. 27 Feb. 2000. Available. <http://saxakali.com/saxakali-publications/moses6.htm>.

Gross, Susan Hill and Marjorie Wall Bingham. Women in Africa of the Sub-Sahara, volume I: Ancient Times to the 20th Century. St. Louis Park: Glenhurst Publications, 1982.

Gross, Susan Hill and Marjorie Wall Bingham. Women in Africa of the Sub-Sahara, volume II: The 20th Century. St. Louis Park: Glenhurst Publications, 1982.

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