Gender Inequality

Christianna Haas and Nicole Messer

What is gender inequality?

Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender.

Throughout history

Gender Inequality has been a long standing issue throughout every culture across the globe.

Women have struggled at home and in society with simple tasks since the early dynasties of the world.

At home, women are expected to do the cleaning, cooking, and any other whim head of the household, or the husband, may have.

Women have had struggles to get jobs, vote, and wear certain clothing.

In the Bile, Eve, represtenting all women, is deemed as sinful for taking the apple from the tree. It has also been interpreted that because she was made from Adam's rib, women are "endebted" to men for giving them life. Greek philosophers also thought women were the imperfect version of women.


The oppression of women is not so prevalent in today's American society as it is in third world countries.

There, women have still been denied the right to:

  1. Travel
  2. Drive
  3. Citizenship
  4. Education
  5. Divorce from husbands (even if it is an unsafe relationship)

Iran's Gender Apartheid - women without rights

Oppression of women in Tribal culture

In various African tribes, it is tradition for a male to pick out a woman to make his wife. If it also follows custom, the male is supposed to pay a "Lobola", or a bride price to the parents for the rights to marry their daughter. Because Mr. Mathabane was Venga, and they practiced this custom, Mrs. Mathabane was bought.

This custom is as alive today as it was 100 years ago in many cultures across Africa.

Quote 1

“You seem to forget that I bought you! I own you. Your duty is to look after my children, cook for me, and do what I say” (Mathabane 176)

In a man's mind, women were specifically used for cooking, cleaning, producing offspring and raising the children. Nothing more. No work, or anything else involving them in society. Because she was also owned, Mark's mother couldn't escape her husband's abuse and was trapped in their marriage.

Quote 2

·“’One, there are better things for you to work for’, he said. ‘Besides, I don’t want you to work. How would it look to other men if you, the woman I owned, were to start working?’” (Mathabane 132).

In society, women struggled getting jobs. Mr. Mathabane didn't want her to get a job because it would directly reflect on him. We see again here that women are more objects in a man's mind, and for a wife to start working would mean that the man of the household was not providing enough for his family, making him directly look inferior to his working "property".

Quote 3

“’My boy’, he began, ‘who is the ruler of this house?’ ’You are, papa,’ I said with a trembling voice.’ ’Whose son are you?’ ‘Yours and mama’s.’ ‘Whose?’ ‘Yours.’ ‘That’s better…’” (Mathabane 34).

We see here that the men are the head of the house and that they make sure that the kids know who's boss. Any indication of the children thinking that the mothers were in charge or that they were theirs was shot down immediately. They weren't thought of as the child of the mother and father, but instead just the father.

Quote 4

"He continues launching a tirade of obscenities at my mother and her mother, calling them whores and bitches and so on" (Mathabane 131)

Men were able to disrespect their wives freely. It was accepted throughout society that men were able to do anything that they wanted regarding their wives, such as abuse them physically and verbally, and cheat on them. Often, men would even abandon their wives, leaving them to fend for themselves with no job and no money. but women were ultimately powerless against their husbands.

Quote 5

“'From now on, I want no one to go near that damn tent.'" My mother did not argue; she knew my father well enough not to” (Mathabane 60).

In any argument or decidion, tribal women are ultimately powerless against their husbands. What they say, goes. It's their way or the highway, which means starvation and homeless life for many women.

Discussion Questions

1. How does gender inequality hinder the development of third-world countries?

2. Which gender deals with more stress and fear on a daily basis?

3. Is there a relationship between religion and gender inequality?

4. What are some examples of gender equality in our current society?

5. How does the oppression of women differ in Kaffir Boy and In the Time of the Butterflies?


"Marriage Tradition In Africa: Lobola." Essortment. Demand Media 2011, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.

Mathabane, Mark.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. New York: Macmillan, 1986. Print.