Women’s Education and Social Development in Africa

  • Benedicta Egbo


Much has been written about the role of education as an important prerequisite for social development. Although there are competing claims to the contrary, there is indeed compelling evidence that mass education accelerated industrial revolution in much of the developed West. Following the same logic, postcolonial social policies in Africa and other less developed parts of the world have been premised on the assumption that there is an interdependence between education and social development. But, despite this recognition and massive educational expansions in the region over the last several decades, women’s equal access to education is at best, ideational. An analysis of UNESCO’s (2000) World Education Report, shows that while significant gains were made in school enrollments in Africa, women continue to trail behind men, with few exceptions, at all levels of education (see table 8.1). But, beyond disparities in educational enrollments and asymmetrical access to social rewards per se, women’s education is of critical value to society in very important ways.


Social Development Human Development Index African Woman Social Progress Woman Entrepreneur 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amadiume, I. (1987). Male daughters, female husbands. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  2. Babalola, J., Lungwangwa, G. and Adeyinka, A. (1999). Education under structural adjustment in Nigeria and Zambia. McGill Journal of Education, 34 (1), 79–97.Google Scholar
  3. Ballara, M. (1992). Women and literacy. New Jersey: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  4. Benería, L. (2003). Gender, development, and globalization. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Boserup, E. (1970). Women’s role in economic development. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  6. Browne, A. and Barrett, H. (1991). Female education in sub-Saharan Africa: The key to development? Comparative Education, 27, 275–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bujra, J.M. (1986). Urging women to redouble their efforts: Class, gender and capitalist transformation in Africa. In C. Robertson and I. Berger (Eds.), Women and class in Africa (pp. 117–140). New York: Africana Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  8. Chlebowska, K. (1990). Literacy for rural women in the third world. Belgium: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  9. Cochrane, S. (1979). Fertility and education: What do we really know? Washington, D.C.: World Bank Staff Occasional Paper #26.Google Scholar
  10. Comings, J., Smith, C. and Shrestha, C. (1994). Women’s literacy: The connection to health and family planning. Convergence, 27, 93–101.Google Scholar
  11. Dasgupta, P. (1993). An inquiry into well-being and destitution. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dlamini, N. and Egbo, B. (2004). Rethinking GAD in developing countries in the new global order: Toward critical literacy policies. Whither GAD Symposium, University of Ottawa, March 3–5.Google Scholar
  13. Egbo, B. (2000a). Gender, literacy and life chances in sub-Saharan Africa. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  14. Egbo, B. (2000b). Femanomics: Women, literacy and economics in sub-Saharan Africa. Equal Opportunities International, 19 (2/3/4), 8–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Etta, F. (1994). Gender issues in contemporary African education. Africa Development, 19, 57–84.Google Scholar
  16. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.Google Scholar
  17. Hollos, M. (1998). The status of women in Southern Nigeria: Is education a help or a hindrance? In M. Bloch, J. Beoku-Betts and R. Tabachnick (Eds.), Women and education in sub-Saharan Africa (pp. 247–276). Boulder: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  18. Kasarda, J., Billy, J. and West, K. (1986). Status enhancement and fertility: Reproductive responses to social mobility and educational opportunity. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lankshear, C., Sandiford, P., Montenegro, M., Sanchez, G., Coldham, C. and Cassel, J. (1995). Twelve years on women: Women’s literacy in a Nicaraguan municipality. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 14, 162–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. LeVine, R. (1982). Influences of women’s schooling on maternal behaviour in the third world. In G. Kelly and C. Elliott (Eds.), Women’s education in the third world: Comparative perspectives (pp. 283–310). Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  21. Mba, N. (1982). Nigerian women mobilized: Women’s political activity in southern Nigeria, 1900–1965. University of California, Berkeley: Institute of International Studies.Google Scholar
  22. McCloskey, S. (2003). Education as an agent of social change. In G. McCann and S. McCloskey (Eds.), From the local to the global: Key issues in development studies (pp.178–196). London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  23. Molyneux, M. (1985). Mobilization without emancipation? Women’s interests, the state and revolution in Nicaragua. Feminist Studies, 11, 227–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Odora, C. (1993). Educating girls in a context of patriarchy and transformation: A theoretical and conceptual analysis. Masters Degree Dissertation, Institute of International Education, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  25. Rakowski, C. (1995). Engendering wealth and well-being: Lessons learned. In R. Blumberg, C. Rakowski, I. Tinker and M. Monteón (Eds.), Engendering wealth and well-being. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ramdas, L. (1990). Women and Literacy: A quest for justice. Convergence, 23, 23–42.Google Scholar
  27. Rathgeber, E. (1990). WID, WAD, GAD: Trends in research and practice. The Journal of Developing Areas, 24, 489–502.Google Scholar
  28. Reimers, F. and Tiburcio, L. (1993). Education, adjustment, and reconstruction: Options for change. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  29. Robertson, C. (1986). Women’s education and class formation in Africa, 1950–1980. In C. Robertson and I. Berger (Eds.), Women and class in Africa. New York: Africana.Google Scholar
  30. Rodda, A. (1991). Women and the environment. London and New Jersey: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  31. Samoff, J. (1996). African education and development: Crises, triumphalism, research, loss of vision. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 42, 121–147.Google Scholar
  32. Schultz, T. (1960). Capital formation by education. Journal of Political Economy. 68 (6), 571–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smock, A. (1981). Women’s education in developing countries: Opportunities and outcomes. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  34. Stichter, S. and Parpart, J. (1988). Towards a materialist perspective on African women. In S. Stichter and J. Parpart (Eds.), Patriarchy and class: African women in the home and the workforce. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  35. Stromquist, N. (1990). Women and illiteracy: The interplay of gender, subordination and poverty. Comparative Education Review, 34, 95–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sudarkasa, N. (1987). The status of women in indigenous African societies. In R. Terborg-Penn, S. Harley and A. Benton Rushing. Women in Africa and the African diaspora. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Tedla, E. (1995). Sankofa: African thought and education. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  38. Teboh, B. (1994). West African women: Some considerations. Ufahamu, 22, 50–62.Google Scholar
  39. UNESCO (1991). World education report. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  40. UNESCO (2000). World education report: The right to education. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  41. United Nations (1987). Fertility behaviour in the context of development: Evidence from the world fertility survey. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  42. United Nations (2000a). The world’s women: Trends and statistics. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  43. United Nations (2000b). Women entrepreneurs in Africa: Experience from selected countries. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  44. United Nations (2001). From Beijing to Beijing + 5. Review and appraisal of the implementation: The Beijing platform for action. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  45. World Bank (2001). Engendering development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank & New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. World Bank (2002). Education and HIV/AIDS: A window of hope. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Ali A. Abdi and Ailie Cleghorn 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benedicta Egbo

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations