• Sheldon Gellar


The breakdown of the old aristocratic order in Senegal following colonial conquest reduced the social gap between the nobility and the lower orders and castes. Tocqueville’s comments about the steady march toward social equality in France could also be applied to Senegal:

The noble has gone down in the social scale, and the commoner gone up; as the one falls, the other rises. Each half century brings them closer, and soon they will touch.2

After Senegal obtained its independence in 1960, the movement toward greater social and political equality accelerated and affected all levels of Senegalese society.


Social Equality Colonial Rule French Colonial Western Education Colonial Society 
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Chapter Ten Equality

  1. 12.
    Linda J. Beck, “Democratization and the Hidden Public: The Impact of Patronage Networks on Senegalese Women,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 35, No. 2 (January 2003) p. 152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 14.
    See, for example, Christian Coulon, “Women, Islam and Baraka,” in Donal B. Cruise O’Brien and Christian Coulon (eds.), Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam (Clarendon: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 113–126. For a more critical attitude toward Senegalese Islam’s treatment of women, seeGoogle Scholar
  3. Lucy E. Creevey, “The Impact of Islam on Women in Senegal,” Journal of Developing Areas, Vol. 25, No. 3 (April 1991), pp. 347–368.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Jean Bethke Eistain, “Women, Equality, and the Family,” Journal of Democracy Vol. 11, No. 1 (2000), pp. 157–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 17.
    For more on this theme, see Jane L. Parpart, “Women and the State in Africa,” in Naomi Chazan and Donald Rothchild (eds.), The Precarious Balance: State and Society in Africa (Boulder: Westview Press, 1988), pp. 210–215.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Paul Mercier, “La vie politique dans les centres urbains du Sénégal: Etude d’une période de transition,” Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie, Vol. 27 (1959), p. 72.Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    Cécile Laborde, La Confrérie Layenne et les Lébou du Sénégal: Islam et culture traditionnnelle en Afrique (Bordeaux: Centre d’Étude d’Afrique Noire, 1995), p. 41.Google Scholar
  8. 26.
    Statistical analysis is based on profiles of all ministers serving in the government between 1957 and 2000 presented in Babacar Ndiaye and Waly Ndiaye, Présidents et Ministres de la République du Sénégal (Dakar: La Sénégalaise de l’Imprimerie, 2000).Google Scholar
  9. 33.
    For the 1962–1963 academic year, the University of Dakar had only thirty female students out of a total of over 700 Senegalese students. Fatou Sow, Les Fonctionnaires de l’Administration Centrale (Dakar: IFAN, 1972), p. 66.Google Scholar
  10. 34.
    While 34 percent of women in the survey declared that they preferred to stay at home, 58 percent expressed a preference for working outside the home, mostly in the modest occupations generally reserved for women. Pierre Fougeyrollas, Où va le Sénégal? Analyse Spectrale d’une nation africaine (Paris: Editions anthropos, 1970), p. 165.Google Scholar

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