Socio-cultural status of ‘barracks women’ in Nigeria, 1905-1985: A historical perspective
This article focuses on the socio-cultural status of barracks women in Nigeria. The study is important, contrary to the thinking that army wives have no history worth studying because of culture, environment, and sex stereotypes. The paper argues that since the incorporation of women into the barracks, their roles have been complementary in both empire-building and nation-building. Remarkably, their influence contributed to the construction of social relations and interdependence between the colonisers and the colonised. With the departure of European wives from the colony, indigenous officers’ wives transformed their roles from the private to the public spheres to meet the challenges of nation-building and social change. In this piece, we draw on oral sources, military magazines and literature, qualitative data and Internet sources to highlight the socio-cultural status of women and their involvement in colonial and post-colonial societies. This paper reveals that rank is a factor in women’s involvement in gender and service politics. It concludes that barracks women can improve their status in the social and economic spheres through government empowerment and social investment programmes. This study is limited to barracks women in Nigeria. It will help society to know that barracks women have a history worth studying.