Virginity Rituals and National Development: Harnessing a Traditional Virtue to Address Modern Challenges in Africa

Agatha Ifeyinwa Nnazor, Jacquelyn Price Robinson


Africa is grappling with poverty and unemployment. Virtually every sector of the economy is underdeveloped. African females can significantly contribute to the improvement of socioeconomic conditions in Africa considering their active traditional and historical roles in development. However, most females are not entering the formal sector of the economy and indeed the professions because of lack of or inadequate education. Many do not go to school and most do not go beyond elementary education. A significant number of girls drop out of school due to unplanned or unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDs. This paper proposes reinvigoration of virginity rituals as a strategy for enhancing girls’ participation in education and formal wage sector employment. The paper argues that revitalized virginity rituals will serve as a sociocultural incentive for girls to stay longer in school, qualify for participation in formal wage labor force and contribute more meaningfully to national development. Revitalized virginity rituals will result in a healthier African society in that it will significantly reduce sex-related vices including unplanned and unwanted teen pregnancies, complications associated with abortion and childbirth to under-aged adolescents, STIs and HIV/AIDS. The study is informed by a review of extant literature and data on women and development, women and reproductive health, women and education, and virginity rituals in Africa.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2016.v7n1s1p155

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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