Women in Twentieth-Century Africa

By Iris Berger
Cambridge University Press, 2016

During a turbulent colonial and postcolonial century, African women struggled to control their own marital, sexual and economic lives and to gain a significant voice in local and national politics. This book introduces students to many remarkable women, who organized religious and political movements, fought in anti-colonial wars, ran away to escape arranged marriages, and during the 1990s began successful campaigns for gender parity in national legislatures. The book also explores the apparent paradox in the conflicting images of African women - as singularly oppressed and dominated by men, but also as strong, resourceful, and willing to challenge governments and local traditions to protect themselves and their families. Understanding the tension between women's power and their oppression, between their strength and their vulnerability, offers a new lens for understanding the relationship between the state and society in the twentieth century.