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Colonialism and Christianity: Factors Affecting the Evolution of Women's Rights in Uganda and Zimbabwe
AuthorPhelan, Kathleen M.
AdvisorOstergard, Robert L.
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This project is intended to study the evolution of women’s rights in Uganda andZimbabwe, specifically within the context of colonialism. Research into these nations,with the methodology of comparing pre-colonialism with the colonial state of affairs,focused on attitudes and practices regarding aspects of daily life such as female sexuality,education, political representation, and economic power, to name a few. The topicrequires nuanced scrutiny because the frequent use of colonialism as a catchall termbetrays the number and variety of actors involved in transforming African nations frompre-capitalistic, largely decentralized societies into extensions of nineteenth centuryEurope. Government officials and Christian missionaries, when not vying for ultimatecontrol over the indigenous populations, collaborated to formally institute Eurocentricpatriarchal systems.The kingdoms of pre-colonial Uganda relied on division of roles according to sex,but these roles complemented one another rather than established hierarchies, and thepopulations on the whole were relatively egalitarian. In Zimbabwe, patriarchal structurespredated colonialism, but government formalization of these customs, nevertheless,further reduced women’s power. Women experienced similar loss of status in bothnations, but owing to the divergent ways in which Uganda and Zimbabwe receivedcolonialist intrusion, this marginalization manifested itself differently in each country. InUganda, religion was the key factor in subjugating women. In Zimbabwe, subjugationwas achieved largely due to economic motivations. For both nations, understanding themost common sources of justification of female inequality is key to formulating methodsto empower Ugandan and Zimbabwean women in the modern era.