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In such societies, woman marriage makes it possible for women to gain social status as the head of the household.
In some societies, such as the Nandi people of Western Kenya, women who are older (beyond child-bearing age), never married and have no children are prime candidates to become female husbands.
Kevane (2004) estimates that approximately 5–10 percent of the women in Africa are involved in woman-to-woman marriages.
Traditionally, woman marriage has served as an avenue through which women exercise social influence and patronage in societies where inheritance and succession pass through the male line.
A female husband is also unlikely to carry things on her head and so forth.
Oboler interviewed a female husband who described the typical male role she plays when entertaining visitors: “When a visitor comes, I sit with him outside and converse with him.
People were discouraged, and in some cases outlawed, from marrying outside of their class, caste, race, religion or ethnic group.
Families would disown daughters and sons who married the ‘wrong’ person.
The nature of the relationship between the women married to each other in these traditional woman marriage arrangements is legal and social but not sexual.
She will become a female husband by giving bride-wealth and observing all the other the rituals asked of a suitor by the bride’s family.
The wife may have children with any man she wishes, or a man chosen by the female husband, but the legal and social ‘father’ of the children will be the female husband.
Both culture and marriage are important constructs to the struggle for gender equality in society.
The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the implications for women’s lives in specific traditional African marriage customs practiced across the continent.