Socio-cultural Factors and Practices Affecting the Girl Child among the Annang People of Akwa Ibom State

Magdalene Agbor Igbolo, Frances Umari Ejue

Abstract


Household discriminatory practices on the girl-child have drawn attention worldwide due to deep-rooted socio-cultural beliefs, values and practices. Despite extensive empirical evidence in literature there is a dearth of studies in Nigeria in particular. This study examined the socio-cultural factors and practices affecting the girl-child among the Annang, an ethnic group in Akwa-Ibom State-Nigeria. The study adopted the Weber’s social action theory as theoretical framework to provide theoretical orientation to the issue investigated. A multi-methodological approach was adopted in generating data. A household survey was conducted among 100 respondents which comprised of pairs of fathers/male-children and mothers/female-children. A four-staged sampling technique was used to purposively select 3 Enumeration Areas (EAs). Structured questionnaires elicited information on cultural construction of girlhood, familial roles and household practices from both adults and boy and girl-children. Four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and IDIs which centred on gender socialization, gender relations, household practices, and socio-cultural factors were conducted among adults males and females as well as male and female-children. Indepth interviews were also conducted with religious leaders, traditional rulers, as well as male and female community leaders. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The qualitative data employed content analysis as well as thematic narratives of participants and key informants views and responses. Adult respondents’ mean age was 40.3±10.0 years, 98.1% were married, and 81.7% were farmers. The mean age for boys and girl-children was 13.5±3.2 years. Majority of the respondents were rural dwellers (82.0%). Majority of respondents (97.1%) opined that the status of the girl-child was very low relative to the boy-child. About 99% affirmed that girl-children were disadvantaged with regard to opportunities and privileges. The girl-child faced household discriminatory practices in domestic work assignment (79.0%), education (78.4%) and restrictive food taboos (32.2%). Significant others approved such practices. About 67% of girl-children perceived the practices as acceptable to the Annang people. The qualitative data identified socio-cultural factors such as conception of gender roles, gender socialization, son preference, cultural construction of girlhood, and valuation of the girl-child, decision-making, gender stereotyping among others engendered these practices. Cultural construction of girlhood was largely defined by the respondents’ societal notions on femininity. Household discriminatory practices among the Annang people, was largely due to socio-cultural factors and practices. Therefore, serious attention should be given to community mobilization and sensitization to address the socio-cultural factors and harmful practices which limit the empowerment of the girl-child.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v4i2.2007

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