PDT Staff Writer
Dr. Mary Oling-Sisay, Vice President of Student Affairs at SSU, delivered a presentation, “The Role of the Evolution of the African Woman” at the university Wednesday.
Oling-Sisay is a native of Uganda, and shared knowledge and information regarding the progression of the role of women in African culture.
She began with the Pre-Colonial Period, discussing African women and their responsibilities in agriculture at that time.
“The backbone of the African economy is mostly agriculture. Yes, Africa is rich in a lot of mineral resources, but where women have been able to get a strong foothold has been in agriculture,” Oling-Sisay said.
Oling-Sisay said the Colonial Period of the 19th Century created what is called duality of expectations.
“The reason why this period is important with regard to gender is the Colonial Period introduced cash crops,” Oling-Sisay said. “With cash crops, money and currency were introduced. Therefore men became very interested in agriculture.
“It was a duality of expectations, where they were not really in charge of the cash crops, but were still expected to help with the labor, primarily the planting, and the harvesting,” Oling-Sisay said.
Oling-Sisay said as men began to dominate agriculture, women’s role in agriculture was minimized. She discussed challenges African women face, including civil strife and conflict, the impact of AIDS and high birth rates.
According to Oling-Sisay, solutions for African women included improving economic programs that effect women, the election of female leaders in local communities and addressing gender bias in education, just to name a few.
Kayla Cosby, a full-time student at SSU, said the presentation was enlightening.
“I thought the presentation was very good, it opened my mind. It made me think about how many women are being taken advantage in other societies,” Cosby said.
Oling-Sisay said she believes it is important to share this presentation with the local community.
“I think its important in this area, because it is an isolated area, and many people probably do not have the opportunity to be exposed to this kind of information,” Oling-Sisay said.
Oling-Sisay concluded the presentation with a question and answer session and welcome the audience to view a display table with African artifacts and traditional apparel.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.