chapter  8
5 Pages

The Urban Condition

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

Beyond the cultural heritage unique to each region, women's ages, geographical and social origins, and urban class, as well as relations between the sexes unique to each society, created noticeable differences. It is riot clear that coming to the city was necessarily an improvement for working-class women. Men, especially the better-trained ones, most readily entered urban life. An abundant literature makes clear that African men themselves and most researchers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists in Africa have propagated divergent moral judgments regarding women's urban work. Most complaints argued before early colonial judges were to obtain the repayment of the bride-price when a woman had abandoned her husband or village. Europeans early on assimilated the independent woman with the free or prostituted woman. Whatever was thought of them, most poor urban African women had the same demographic profile and worked at the same types of jobs, often leaving them below the poverty line.