In Niger, the proportion of women in the population is among 0-24 year olds under 100 (101.42 men); 25-69 year olds: 99.1 men versus 100 women; For every 100 women over 70, there are only 78.8 men. The life expectancy in Niger is about 62.5 years (in men is lower than in women). The main causes of death for the Nigerien population are caused by infectious diseases, malaria, but also traffic accidents and much more
The social position of women is largely determined by marital status, age and the number of children (sons). The birth rate is now 7 children per woman (2017) and is still falling. Women are an essential pillar of society; Through their activities in the field of subsistence security, in the informal sector or in the market, it is through their activities that they keep families alive. The government tried to counteract the high population growth in projects with the support of various organizations, one example is the ‘ men’s school ‘.
According to payhelpcenter, the highest authority in the Islamic-oriented ethnic groups is always the oldest man. Polygamous households in the city are particularly widespread among the Hausa and Djerma, but are also increasingly common among other ethnic groups such as the Fulbe, although this does not always correspond to their own cultural tradition. According to Nigerian marriage law, in the event of a divorce, the woman has no claim to children after they are seven years old. Based on experiences from Eritrea (polygamy has been compulsory since there are too few men in the country), Nigerians also ask themselves whether it is possible that polygamy could become compulsory in Niger due to the labor migration of men to neighboring countries. Contraceptives have been free in Niger since 2007 but there is an increase in polygamy.
The traditional duties and tasks of women are: – in addition to bringing up the children – fetching water, procuring firewood, working in the fields, milking the animals etc. often also doing the market business. The tasks of women desired by the traditionally oriented side of the population often do not match the requirements for equality. Women of nomadic ethnic groups traditionally have greater autonomy: the women own animals, go to the market, sell their milk and can then use the proceeds for themselves.
In strictly Islamic families, the woman never leaves the homestead without the consent of her husband. Islamist currents and influences have increased in recent years, especially in the Maradi-Zinder regions and along the border with Nigeria, which has had a decisive impact on women’s autonomy. The Islam of West Africa, although it has existed in West Africa since the 8th century, is more syncretistic in character, but is becoming increasingly radicalized and influenced by Islam.
In most ethnic groups in Niger, young girls are often married off by their parents against their will. Traditionally, a young married girl did not automatically get pregnant early, but initially lived with the in-laws for a few years, where she supported the mother-in-law’s household. Especially in families where there were no girls or girls who were too young to help their mother, the daughter-in-law was taken into the care of the mother-in-law at an early age. The young women should have a certain physical maturity before the marriage could be consummated physically. 75% of marriages in Niger are to underage women. On the part of the parents, this is due to the fact that the risk of girls becoming pregnant outside of marriage is lower; In addition, the bride price is more attractive, there are also traditional reasons and increasingly motives of an extremist Islam. In recent decades, there has been an increasing number of early marriages of young girls. According to a 2012 study by the Niger Statistics Office, the high population growth in Niger is attributed to the marriages of young girls. 38% of girls between the ages of 15-19 have children or are pregnant. Young women are now also resisting marrying. (Reference is made to chapter History and State: ‘Slavery and Human Rights’)
According to the World Bank, Niger is increasingly investing in protecting young children under the age of five to reduce malnutrition and malnutrition. Single women are particularly encouraged.
In the course of the increase in Islamist movements, including in Niger, the rights of some families are being severely curtailed and stronger dress and behavioral regulations are being imposed on women. The artfully knotted headscarf, which seems to be so typical for Africa, is still worn by Nigerian women.
So-called maternal fistulas represent a major problem. In young pregnant women, the urinary bladder is often injured during delivery. For this reason, the young girls – but also older women – are often divorced, rejected and live in isolation in poverty. In Niger, the NGO “Santé de la reproduction pour une maternité sans risque” (SRMSR-DIMOL) takes care of these cases; there are 4 fistula centers in total.
The author Rebecca Popenoe reports in her book “Feeding Desire” (2004) about the ideas of beauty and the “obesity of women” in some Nigerian population groups (particularly pronounced among Arab women).
Women rarely hold public offices and decision-making positions, and women are only gradually assuming more official positions. In parliament women hold 29 of the 171 seats; Overall, the participation and participation of women in politics and the non-informal economy is slowly but steadily increasing.
Kinship and social organization
Kinship is the elementary form of social organization in West Africa – as a rule, the nuclear family is of no importance. Most of the ethnic groups are hierarchically structured (with the exception of Tubu). The outline can be about
- shift / caste
happen. In general it can be said that in addition to the noble caste there were / are those of the artisans and farmers / shepherds and dependents / slaves. Each caste has specific rights and duties. Griots, healers and traditional midwives have a special social status.
The extended family forms the core of the social structure, ie the multi-generational family. The smallest spatial socio-economic unit is the homestead or campement, which is made up of several households. In this structure grandparents, parents and children, but also (great) uncles and aunts and married children live close together, either in the same homestead or set up the tents close together.
There are still addicts and slaves, although slavery has been officially banned since 2003. The number is estimated at around 43,000 people. It is believed that far more people live in such dependency relationships. This also includes, for example, children – mostly girls – who work as so-called domestic servants at a young age, or children, often boys, who have to beg for gangs, but also former pet owners who have no means and animals who have to hire large pet owners when they don’t want to try their luck in town. Niger is the country of origin, destination and transit for human trafficking, especially with women and girls for housework, but also for sexual exploitation. Niger is active in enacting an anti-human trafficking law, but with little real commitment, as the US human trafficking report for Niger shows.