The title gives a strong hint about how women are portrayed throughout the play: the "jewel" in question is the beautiful woman Sidi, who is reduced to a coveted object that two men in particular want to possess. These men are the elderly Baroka, the "lion," and the young, western-educated school teacher Lakunle.
Throughout the play women are treated as objects and as subordinate to men. Lakunle, for instance, assumes the unquestioning right early in the play to tell Sidi she should not show so much cleavage or carry a pail on her head. He also asserts dominance by informing her that she has a smaller brain that of a man. After that less than endearing beginning, he tells her he loves her.
Later, during a village performance, the women assume the parts of the wheels of the car, while Lakunle is the driver, again illustrating the subordinate position of women in this society.
Women's status as possessions is shown most clearly in the behavior of Baroka, the lion, who has collected a multitude of wives the way one might collect china. We see him telling one of his wives, who is plucking out his armpit hairs, that he plans to take yet another wife but will allow her to be the only one who gets to pluck his armpit hairs. This comment is half teasing and half manipulative (Baroka wants her to pull harder), but it also illustrates the way women are owned and subordinated in this society.
Women like Sidi do show verve, strength, and agency, but in the end fall in line with traditional cultural values. Sidi, for example, thinks it is shameful that Laklune does not want to pay the bride price for her.