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Women in World History

The family wage was an increased wage demanded by the male labor unionists in the United Kingdom. The wage was aimed at removing the need for women and children to work and actively preventing them from seeking employment (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). The establishment of the family wage led to women’s wages being lowered, female workers being put at a disadvantage, and families without a male earning that wage suffering.

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The suffrage movement was an organized effort to ensure the right of women to vote in political elections. The impulse for the suffrage movement arising across Europe is attributed to the liberal principles that affected the majority of governments on the continent in the early 1900s (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). Women saw suffrage primarily as an instrument to affect society, their position in it, and conditions for employed and unemployed women.

Individualist feminism is a feminist tradition that emphasizes the importance of individualism. According to Hughes and Hughes (1997), the tradition is based on the concepts of individual human rights and personal autonomy of men and women in all aspects of life. Individualist feminism rejects all socially defined roles and aims to minimize the discussion of sex-linked qualities, contributions, and responsibilities of men and women in society.

Relational feminism is a feminist tradition that holds the gender-based view of the social organization. Thus, relational feminism highlights women’s rights in relation to men (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). The tradition asserts that childbearing is among the most important contributions that women can make to society and that they should be recognized for them. Thus, it argues for equality while acknowledging the difference in male and female sexual functions in society.

Bridewealth is a custom of a groom or groom’s family paying considerable wealth to the bride’s family. Societies with the bridewealth tradition are characterized by polygamy, patrilineage, and patrilocality (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). Traditionally, in case of divorce, bridewealth is returned to the family of the husband.

Widow inheritance is the practice of widowed women being inherited by the male relatives of their husbands. As women were considered a part of the husband’s wealth, they were passed on with his property and belongings to his male successors (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). If a woman wished to remain free after the passing of her spouse, she was expected to repay the bridewealth to her husband’s successor.

Patrilineage is a custom of tracing one’s descent through the paternal line. As members of the patrilineage, African men were entitled to the right to graze and cultivate crops on assigned plots of land belonging to the patrilineage (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). Meanwhile, women gained access to land and the right to work on it through their husbands.

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Female genital mutilation is a practice of removing external genitalia in young girls. Different types of genital mutilation include clitoridectomy, excision, and infibulation (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). In Africa, it is considered a cultural and religious practice and a ritual to welcome young girls to womanhood, promote solidarity, and prepare them for childbirth.

Age-set is a set of women of the same age forming a body of authority in African countries. Age-sets could exert power over women and their activities and punish men accused of mistreating women (Hughes & Hughes, 1997). The highest level formed a council of women who had greater control over the lives of women in their community and were involved in domestic matters.


Hughes, S. S., & Hughes, B. (1997). Women in world history: v. 2: Readings from 1500 to the present. Routledge.

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