chapter  7
13 Pages

Women and Urban Migration

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

Colonial administrations blocked girls' urban migration as much as they could, more or less assimilating it to prostitution. In Kampala the laws of 1914 against prostitution and of 1918 against "adultery and fornication" were invoked to limit girls' travel. Some young Hausa women also fled the family home to escape marriage against their will. In the city they became independent women and perhaps karuwai. Independent women's migration has become significant in the past twenty years. Though the cities gradually filled with migrant women as well as men, the gender shift was sometimes slow in coming. Urban migration is gender-balanced throughout Africa. Many women have become city dwellers, and more women migrate than men. Women were not nominally the subject of the Urban Areas Act of 1923, the basis of later residential segregation. Between the World Wars South Africa was the only nation on the continent in which the numbers of women in cities increased faster than the numbers of men.