Housa women in Western African society

The main purpose of this paper is to give a short summary of the article Ambiguous Consequences of the Socialisation and Seclusion of Hausa Women. The author of the article is Barbara J. Callaway. The article has been published in The Journal of Modern Studies, 22, 3 (1984), pp. 429 – 450.

The subject of the article is socio-economic position of women of Hausa women in the predominantly Muslim City of Kano, Nigeria. 3. The thesis. There is a clear polarization of attributes in the behavior of Hausa women. They live in seclusion from men. Hausa women are obedient, slow and laconic. But in spite of that they are rather outspoken and have ability to be aware not only of their environment but of the outside world. They live separately from men – it allows them to get a kind of independence from men and take part in economic life. So, there are clear premises for independence which can appear in the society of total suppression, even in the condition of Islam. These premises can be increased today with the education spreading among Hausa women.The chapter Growing up female in Hausaland underlines the strict subordination of men and women in Hausa society. Since childhood women have been taught to obey and take inferior position compared to men. Their real status of seclusion is determined in the age of 12 – 14 when they can marry. Since this time a girl is taught to behave like a woman. Family shows clear preference for boys and learn that they are superior to girls (p. 434.).

The chapter Religious reinforcement of female subordination argues that Hausa women’ subordination and seclusion is greatly influenced by Muslim religion. Islam makes man and women to take appropriate social position. All life and morality standards of women are determined by religion. In addition to Islam Hausa women profess pre-Islamic cult which provides a kind of escape from Islam norms for them.

The chapter Adult life tells about social position of adult women and men in Hausa society. Marriage is the achieving of certain social status. Since a girl is married, a lot of different restrictions are imposed to her (p. 439). Women live in seclusion – so, men are apart from their active life, and women are able to produce income for themselves (p. 440) that is a part of their relative independence.

The chapter The role of education underlines the fact that in resent years Hausa women are being involved in educational process and this tendency is growing. So, women are able to change their social and economic status. They begin to realize advantages education can give, and their positions are more active than before, although their position is forming in Islamic society and is influenced by it.The conclusion of the article is devoted to the dual position of women in our society. Women bear and look after children, keep house and make a lot of other functions, but often they don’t have appropriate socio-economical status. Hausa women in our times have the possibility to play more active role in the public arena using their “muted” independence (p. 450).


Callaway B. Ambiguous Consequences of the Socialisation and Seclusion of Hausa Women. The Journal of Modern Studies, 22, 3 (1984), pp. 429 – 450.

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