Beyond Commerce: Women and Power in Traditional Nigerian Market

Adebukola Foluke Osunyikanmi


Powerlessness of women, gender inequality and discrimination against women are concepts that often dominate political discourse. These perspectives on relations between men and women critically trivialize the unique role of women in the socio-economic and political development of Africa.

The traditional market, a physical location where traders display and sell their wares, has always been under the dominance of women. Historically, legal and political structures were institutionalized in such markets with a view to protecting the interest of all trading members who were mainly women. In contemporary dispensation, they still use those structures to settle disputes among themselves and [also negotiate for amenities from their governments.

This paper, using primary and secondary data, examines the efficacy of the traditional legal, social and political institutions provided by the market; the extent to which the institutions have facilitated the inclusion of women in the political space; and measures that will help strengthen their effectiveness.

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