I will be exploring how the feminist theory relates to the maternal health issue in Nigeria. Feminist anthropology can be separated into three temporal categories. The first wave of the feminist theory began in 1850, when much research was solely based on men. Fortunately, we no longer assume what is true for men are true for women (lecture 5.1). The feminists sought to include women’s voices in ethnography and give female perspective on experiences and events. The second was begun in 1920, separating sex and gender. Sex was a biological term, while gender could be explained culturally. The third wave started in 1980 and is currently the wave in the present. This was the start of intersectionality, one of the most important contributions of the feminist theory. Being categorized as a woman no longer superseded other distinctions and roles. There was much more that diversified the role of a women; including class, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion (Bratton, 1989).
There are also four overriding theories that have influenced feminist anthropology. The first is the practice theory, which states that all social activity comes down to practice. This was a reaction against Durkheim, who assumed women didn’t have a symbolic position. The second overriding theory is positionality, a reaction against cultural feminism. Cultural feminism stated that women should embrace their roles such as nurturing and was against women being out in the working environment. Performance is the third theory, which defines gender as the effect of discourse, and sex as the effect of gender. The last theory is the Queer theory. The Queer theory is an opposition to the concept of “normalcy”.
The feminist theory is the best theory to use in examining the health issue of maternal health in Nigeria. This is because the feminist theory embodies intersectionality. The women in Nigeria are mistreated and are not given the tools and opportunity to grow, as they should. If women had the opportunity to work and make a good living in Nigeria they would be able to afford the health care needed to take care of their maternal bodies. Most women in Nigeria are living in poverty, resulting in lack of health care services that they can afford. Private hospitals are expensive in Nigeria, and pregnant women who cannot afford them resort to mission houses, which puts women at risk of maternal mortality (Lanre-Abass, 2008). Many women also resort to their own homes and cannot afford to hire help during the pregnancy. The role of women in Nigeria is very much affected by socioeconomic status, education, and class. The low SES, low education, and low class level all lead to their lack of opportunity. This lack of opportunity in turn, leads to lack of health care services that they can afford. Which then leads to devastating maternal health issues and outcomes. It is not surprising that 1 in 29 women in Nigeria will face a maternal death (UNICEF, 2012). If the women of Nigeria were given tools such as contraceptives and education there wouldn’t be so many pregnancies and there also wouldn’t be so many maternal deaths. Only 17.5 percent of women in Nigeria use some form of birth control (UNICEF, 2012).
Lanre-Abass, Bolatito. “Poverty and Maternal Mortality in Nigeria: Towards a More Viable Ethics of Modern Medical Practice.” International Journal for Equity in Health, July 11, 2008. Accessed August 5, 2016. http://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-9276-7-11.
UNICEF. “Statistics.” UNICEF. 2012. Accessed August 05, 2016. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/nigeria_statistics.html.
Bratton, A. (1989, May). FEMINIST ANTHROPOLOGY. Retrieved August 06, 2016, from http://www.indiana.edu/~wanthro/fem.htm