African women’s history is a vast topic that embraces a wide variety of societies in over 50 countries with different geographies, social customs, religions, and historical situations. Africa is a predominantly agricultural continent, and a major factor in African agriculture is the central role of women as farmers. It is estimated that between 65 and 80 percent of African women are engaged in cultivating food for their families, and in the past that percentage was likely even higher. Thus, one common thread across much of the continent is women’s daily work in their family plot.
This second edition of Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 700 cross-referenced entries on individual African women in history, politics, religion, and the arts; on important events, organizations, and publications; and on topics important to women in general (marriage, fertility, employment) and to African women in particular (market women, child marriage, queen mothers). This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Women in Africa.
Kathleen Sheldon. Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. 2nd Edition. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Hardcover and eBook.
Kathleen Sheldon is an independent historian with a research affiliation at the Center for the Study of Women, University of California, Los Angeles. She has published books and articles on African history, with particular concentration on women’s history and Mozambique.