What is the role of women in the Ibo culture?

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Women have what might be considered a "traditional" role in the society. Women are in charge of some farming (not yams) & of course, raising children. Children are raised by all wives, sharing the responsibilities among all members of the family. Also, all chores are shared amongst the wives and children. Wives have their own huts, where their children return at the end of the day. The husband has his own hut as well. There may be some advantages to this arrangement: less stress on one person, perhaps. For women, strength is defined in another way. Women who show strength are able to bear children, grow and harvest women's crops, and take care of their husbands without complaint. They suffer blows, guide their children through sickness, and remain steadfast in the face of abuse. Their strength becomes a moral, internal strength, opposed to the brute physical strength of the men.

Despite this domestic role, women also have an important religious role. The Ibo worship both masculine and feminine deities, and one of the most powerful members of the community is Chielo, a priestess of Agbala. Although she is female, no man can order her because of her status. Her religious role has elevated her to equality with men, perhaps even surpassing them. So women play an integral role in the culture of the Ibo.

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