Women in African marriages: Voice, visibility, and value

Augusta Olaore (Lead / Corresponding author), Prince Agwu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter highlights the voice, visibility, and value of women in African marriages under the themes of bride price, the communal nature of weddings, and response to marital infidelity. Women feature in marriages in Africa in unique yet ambivalent ways, both in how marriages are contracted and in the expectations of marital relationships. They struggle to be heard, seen, and respected, which undermines their voice, visibility, and value. This tripod comprises of about five articles in the 2003 Maputo Protocol which seeks to protect and advance the rights of women. Unfortunately, within domestic frames such as cost of weddings, bride price, and marital infidelity, these rights are hitherto lost to a dominant patriarchal structure, making the Maputo Protocol and other relevant laws seem so weak to address the challenges. Therefore, there is need to commence conversations especially by women on scaling up the voice, visibility, and value of women in marital concerns. The voicelessness of women in traditional communities is seen in their exemption from the gathering that sets the bridal price, wedding dates, and even the betrothal. Also, there is a gendered response to marital infidelity. Men are excused and expected to have sexual acquaintances outside of marriage, while wives are punished for marital infidelity. It is hoped that this review will inform actions aimed at fostering gender equality and equity and offer a reminder to stakeholders to pay strict attention to the domestic concerns of the African woman.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of African Women's Studies
EditorsOlajumoke Yacob-Haliso, Toyin Falola
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030280994
ISBN (Print)9783030280987
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • Africa
  • Marital practices
  • Marriage
  • Value
  • Voice
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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