Igbo Women And Social Status

NdiIgbo prizes their womenfolk. Yet, a woman in Igbo culture is not accorded full social recognition, no matter her status in life. Unless she is married and proves to the 'world' that she is a woman by bearing children or at least a child (though debatable). To ndiIgbo, it conforms with the biblical injunction of 'Be Fruitful and Multiply, and fill the earth'.

For example, marriage to an Igbo woman is a protective armor against disrespect and remarks about her. A non-married woman is looked upon disparagingly even by her fellow women.

Marriage confers on Igbo woman so many privileges which an unmarried woman would not get. It enables her to belong to many societies like women cultural dancing group. This is exclusive to married women, the association of all married women within a family, etc.

For example, for a woman to be married, it is for her to climb the first ladder to social recognition. People say about her such as 'okwa nwunye mmadu' (she is somebody's wife) when one is about to or make an unwholesome remark about her. 


Igbo women are women of substance and it is an abomination and outright stupidity to beg any non-Igbo woman to become Igbo. 
It is interesting to note that some of the associations and classified social set up are used to mobilize women at the grassroots level. For administrative purposes, through such organizations, decisions pertaining to women at family (umunna) or 
village meetings are conveyed to them through any of the mentioned associations.

 
 
Igbo women like their male counterparts are traditionally very industrious. They are versatile in farming, trade, and handicrafts. The main crops cultivated by women are cocoyam, rice, cassava, vegetables, beans. They plant plantain and banana stems. They process oil palm nuts for palm oil, crack the nuts for the kernel which they use for cosmetics, some are sold for cash, but it is an abomination for 
women to climb palm trees in Alaigbo.

 
In most traditional Igbo homes, every housewife has her own poultry.

Custom demands that apart from the attention they give to their poultry, no traditional Igbo woman stays outside her matrimonial home after cocks have gone to roost. That is one of the ETHICS OF IGBO CULTURE.

Notwithstanding, the Igbo society is changing as the world is changing. A lot of Igbo women now are career women and involved in jobs that make them keep late hours. For example, some Igbo women involved in nursing professions do run different shift patterns. It could be late or night shifts and it is understandable and acceptable. But when an Igbo woman leaves her husband's house to go and watch home videos in neighbors house every night may not be acceptable. If reported, 
umunna will wield their powers.
 
 
 
Igbo women are good traders. They trade mainly on food items-cassava, fish, different types of spices, vegetables.
They are good potters. They produce different types of pots for cooking and storage of water. They produce musical instruments such as 'udu'.

Igbo women are good at handicrafts. They knit mats. They manufacture soap and cosmetics such as ude aku (palm oil cream), uli etc.
They weave textile materials such as 'Akwete'.

Igbo women are indeed very very industrious. They support their husbands in home management and upkeep. They contribute to the economic well being of the family.

The Igbo women, just like the Jewish women, are the ones who teach their children Igbo culture. Some of the practices in place are being taught to Igbo children by their mothers. That women do not plant yam and only men do in Igbo culture are some of the examples, no worries to them.


I will not rule out that the wind of change blowing from the western world to third world countries is not reaching Igboland, especially women emancipation gender equality, etc.

Igbo societies are not static. As the wind of change is blowing across the globe, Igboland is affected as well. Wife beating is no longer the norm now. 
In the past, in keeping with the Igbo view of female nature, the group allowed wife beating. According to Igbo belief. women by nature required to be tamed and streamlined by regular beating so that the atmosphere at home and outside should remain orderly. In Things fall Apart-Achebe described how Okonkwo beat his second wife for not coming home to make his meal. Though Okonkwo was punished but only because he beat her during the week of peace.
 
 
This is certainly something which will lead to discussions!

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