Women in Pre-colonial Africa: West Africa

  • Cyrelene Amoah-BoampongEmail author
  • Christabel Agyeiwaa
Living reference work entry


Women in pre-colonial West Africa were not a homogenous group that lived static lives relegated to the domestic sphere. Women contested, negotiated, complemented, and transformed their societies through their diverse roles in the political, social, religious, and economic realities of pre-colonial life in West Africa. This chapter presents this dynamic history, foregrounding the dynamics of society and social life within which women from Asante to Mali to Zazzau participated in public life, social and economic production and reproduction, and spiritual life. In sum, pre-colonial West African societies valued women, and while the entry of colonial states and religions was definitive in altering this, further research is required to better understand how women created space for themselves within both broad historical eras.


Pre-colonial Africa Women Gender complementarity Economy Politics Religion 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of GhanaAccraGhana

Section editors and affiliations

  • Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public AdministrationBabcock UniversityIlishan RemoNigeria

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