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Demographic Surveys and Nigerian Women


Entwisle, Barbara & Coles, Catherine M. (1990). Demographic Surveys and Nigerian Women. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 15(2), 259-284.


In the words of Paulina Makinwa-Adebusoye, a well-known Nigerian scholar: "Women constitute about half of the population in rural areas. Together with the men, they share responsibilities for sustenance of their families through participation in all facets of rural labour-agricultural and non-agricultural rural development plans which do not intend to omit this segment of rural population must necessarily be based on facts about women's lives in rural areas. A first step towards the provision of such usable and factual information base is the knowledge of appropriate methodologies to be applied for baseline studies of the position of women and their role in economic development." This passage expresses the concern of Nigerian women, and many others around the world, for the problems of women in the face of far-reaching changes in Nigeria's economy and society. These changes can be linked to (although they do not result solely from) the expansion and consolidation of Islam and to dislocations caused by European incursions and the imposition of colonial rule. They involve significant and ongoing transformations of social and economic systems that have adversely affected Nigerian women's roles as family members, workers, and food producers by reducing women's access to valued resources and their power and influence in society. Moreover, as African scholars themselves have argued, systems of patriarchy integral to many Nigerian societies since well before the introduction of European patriarchal norms continue to influence negatively the position of women.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society


Entwisle, Barbara
Coles, Catherine M.