Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 44: Migration, Gender and Sexual Economies: Young Female Rural–Urban Migrants in Nigeria
Daniel Jordan Smith As in much of sub-Saharan Africa, in Nigeria, a combination of increasing aspirations and opportunities, challenging economic circumstances, and burdensome kinship obligations compel large numbers of single young women to migrate from rural to urban areas. Many young female migrants adapt to the challenges of the city by engaging in sexual relationships with men who can provide them resources, a strategy that can be experienced as both demeaning and empowering. This chapter draws on an ethnographic study of young Igbo-speaking migrants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. The scope and diversity of the local sexual economy, the spectrum of young women’s experiences, and the moral discourses about migration, gender, and sexuality that are produced and circulate in response to this situation reveal the complexity and contradictions inherent in Nigeria’s changing structure of gender inequality. In recent decades, demographers and other social scientists have drawn attention to and begun to analyse the growing proportion of rural–urban migrants in subSaharan Africa who are female, young, and unmarried (Gugler and Ludwar-Ene, 1995; Makinwa-Adebusoye, 1990). This trend represents a relatively new pattern, as previous rural–urban migration streams have been predominantly male, and women tended to move in more significant numbers as the married partners of male migrants than as single and independent agents in their own right. In Nigeria, as in much of the continent, the factors that propel this migration are many, and reflect the multifaceted and tangled ways in which this pattern of mobility is indicative...
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