The Status of Hausa Muslim Women in Northern Nigeria Today: A Three-Dimensional Perspective
Keywords:Culture, Religion, Education, Modernization, Urbanization
Religion is a powerful tool often misused by men in Muslim Hausa communities of Northern Nigeria to ensure compliance and adherence to patriarchal cultural norms and practices which subjugate and exploit women. However, it has been observed that this practice is more prevalent in the rural communities than in urban areas. This paper therefore is an attempt to seek answers to the following questions: Why do Muslim Hausa women in rural communities of Northern Nigeria accept harmful patriarchal practices as a norm? Why do they remain oppressed and averse to the opportunities for self-development prevalent in modern age? Why is the situation different with women of the same religion and culture living in urban areas? Thus, the study examined deeply the status of women in rural and urban Muslim Hausa communities of Kaduna State in north-western Nigeria from three perspectives: the Islamic stance, Hausa culture and modernization. The study gave credence to the biological theories of gender as the basic determinants of the position of women in Islam. The paper also reviewed in relevance some sociological theories of gender role development and how these assigned roles determine the status of women in the societies under study. The research was qualitative and employed document review, in-depth and key informant interview as tools. Keeping religion and culture as constant factors and modernization as a variable, thirty (30) male and females respondents in selected rural and urban areas of Kaduna State were involved in the study. The study confirmed that the continued subjugation of women in the rural communities is associated with harmful practices developed and preserved by patriarchal values associated with the misconception of Islamic injunctions. However, in the urban areas, the influence of modernization especially education and urbanization played a vital role in the understanding of the diverging point between religion and culture and thus, in the appropriate application of Islamic rulings on the roles, rights, duties and responsibilities of both women and men and their coexistence in general. Consequently, women in the latter category have been found to be more enlightened on the teachings of the Religion and thus more liberated and empowered. It is envisaged that the findings of this study would be beneficial to Development Agencies, the Government and non-Governmental Organizations in the formulation and implementation of policies targeted towards women liberation and empowerment, especially in the rural areas. To avoid any backlash and to ensure inclusion, the study recommends gender mainstreaming and active involvement of women and men in both rural and urban areas in the planning and implementation of socio-economic advancement programs especially those centred around education.
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