While white women's sexuality is celebrated in movies and magazines, Black women acting out the same behavior are relegated to the ranks of whoredom. This gross double standard is rooted in slavery and super-exploitation of Black females, who were made prey to white male lust and depicted as sexually animalistic, in addition to bearing the burden of unremunerated labor. Conversely, "even at her most licentious," a white woman "is made to appear innocent, wholesome and strangely virginal."

"Women in Nigeria face a lot of odds when they contest against men," Princewill Akpakpan of the Civil Liberties Organisation, a non-governmental grouping based in the financial hub of Lagos, told IPS. "Our politics has never been on merit or issues; rather it is about those who have all it takes to force their way into office," he said. "The parties often want those who can match violence with violence, those who can coerce people to vote for them." Men are widely held to be more prepared to engage in violence than women.

Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “Increasingly, in Africa and globally, HIV/AIDS has a woman’s face. Not only are women more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS, they are also more likely to be the primary care givers for those who are HIV-positive. If we are to successfully fight this pandemic, we need to promote strategies that address the gender inequalities that leave women and girls most vulnerable.”

The new focus on creating "girls' markets" also reflects the emergence of what had been called the "entrepreneurial feminism." Between 1975 and 1990, women started businesses at more than twice the rate of men. Many of the companies that have been central to the girl's game movement, such as HerInteractive, GirlGames, Girltech, and Purple Moon, closely parallel this trends-smaller start-up companies that are female-owned and largely female staffed.

Many of Boserup's oversights stem from her failure to acknowledge or explore the possibility of essentially different conceptual categories in non-Western contexts. Numerous times throughout her book, Boserup assumes a "customary division of labor between the two sexes (1970, 44)." In fact, her entire analysis of women's role in development relies on her Western understanding of two dichotomous sex/gender roles and a system of labor based upon these polarized categories.

If we start off from the contention that women are commonly oppressed by male patriarchy, what are the defining characteristics of femaleness and maleness, strength, and weakness? Have these characteristics remained the same over time? When did they change? Since this is a work in progress, I will raise these questions in the course of my research, which will focus specifically on the Yoruba of Southern Nigeria. I will not necessarily answer them definitively today, except to point to the exciting new research on gender among the Oyo Yoruba by Oyeronke Oyewumi (1998).

This is not an argument that women are not oppressed on the African continent. What I argue instead, is that if there was ever a valid argument for the universalized oppression of women, the agency that has been most responsible is the state, modeled on its Western counterpart. In both its colonial and post-colonial forms, the African state has discriminated consistently against women. The post-colonial African state, continuing the colonial assault, has done a lot of violence to women's struggle for equality, equity and justice.

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