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Maliwa, Emily Nyamazao (1970) Legal Status of Women in Malawi From Pre-Colonial Period to Independence, 1964. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The longest revolution ever known to mankind would appear to be the women's struggle for equal rights. Thus, the question of women's status in society is generally regarded as a matter of great importance and one whose significance is beet indicated by the fact that it would seem odd in most societies to discuss the status of men vis-a-vis women, since, men have from time immemorial been the leading members of society. There have boot a few exceptional for example, at a certain period in the history of the Kikuyu peoples, women were the loaders in society, until the men revolted against the severity of their subjugation. Similarly, women in Malawi were found in leading positions in some traditional societies at the time observers such as Gamitto and Dr. David Livingstone reached the country. Throughout our study of warren's status in Malawi, we shall try to deal with three principal arguments for and against the contention that the legal and social status of women has always been regarded as subordinate to men's position. These arguments may be summarised as follows: 1. That in African traditional societies where social organisation was based on matrilineage and not patrilineage, women have enjoyed positions of power and influence. This line of argument has sometimes been adduced to support the contention that it would be incorrect to generalise about the subordination of women in society. 2. That whether we speak or the matrilineal or petrilineal society, the woman in so far as relations with her husband were concerned, has always occupied a subordinate position. If there was, the arguments continue, any difference in the status of women between matrilineal and patrilineal societies in so far as relations with their husbands were concerned, it loss a matter of degree and not of substance. 3. That in a study of the status of women in traditional societies, an integrated approach to their relations with spouses and the position women occupied in public life should be attempted rather treating in isolation. Using these arguments as a basis of analysis, we shall try to bring into discussion traditional customs, colonial ordinances/laws, and religious teachings upon which the legal and social status of women in Malawi depended up to 1964. We shall also try and demonstrate that in Malawi the class of people which was regarded as 'chattel' in African traditional society were the captives, during wars - sometimes referred to as "slaves". It was on this class of people that the early Christian missionaries concentrated their work for improving the status of women.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:23

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