The African Woman :
Between Tradition and Modernity
We live in a society where people use proverbs, tales, and folk songs to justify the discrimination that African women are subjected to. It is true that in the traditional society, women had inferior vocations compared to men: their roles consisted in receiving and carrying out orders from their husbands. In the family, they were the housewives; they had to take care of their husbands and look after their children. They were ignorant, having few rights and a lot of duties. They had to raise their children according to social rules which gave different roles to boys and girls. If it is a daughter, she will have to do all kind of domestic chores and obey her husband; but if it is a son, he is prepared to be strong, authoritarian, and respected. In addition to this injustice, women had to receive insulting remarks that the parents or the other members of the family threw at their face every day. For example, if a child misbehaved, people would say that it was the fault of his or her mother that he or she weren’t brought up correctly. There is a Wolof proverb saying: “if a child is good, he or she belongs to the whole community, but if the child is bad, he or she belongs to his or her mother”. How many sufferings and humiliations must the African woman bear again? In case of divorce, if she returns to her family, she is considered as an intruder. That’s why many women prefer to suffer in silence in their marriage.
The time when the role of women was only to bear children and do the housework is over: today, there are women who are teachers, nurses, bankers, members of parliament, and ministers. African women must have the same rights as men. In Senegal, a law has been passed to give women more chances and responsibilities in society. Many educated women are now denouncing the injustices done to women, after all, Africa is the birthplace of humanity; therefore, the mother of the human race is an African woman.