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Women and Education in Africa

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Although it has been argued that gender disparities permeate educational systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a paucity of systematic analyses to support these arguments. This study examines women's participation in the educational process in Sub-Saharan Africa, and argues that women are disadvantaged in this vital area of human resource development. It is argued further that women's disenfranchisement in education may not be the direct result of economic difficulties, as often suggested. Rather, this disenfranchisement is more likely to result from a complex interaction between economic factors, cultural and societal norms, and stereotypes of gender roles. Conjointly, these factors have direct and indirect influences on government initiatives in education and training, career advice, and familial support systems. Women's participation in education is compared in middle and low income Sub-Saharan African countries, and the comparison is used to support the case that economic factors, by themselves, are not sufficient for understanding women's participation in the region's educational systems.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602; 2: Department of Sociology and Women's Studies Program, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602


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