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History & International Studies

Examination Of The Role Of Women In The Nigeria Biafra War From 1967 –1970




This work analyzed the role of women in the Nigeria Biafra war from 1967 –1970. The study has four objective which is To have a clear view on the background to the Nigerian civil war and it’s causes; To enlighten the people on the participation of the women civil  war and it’s causes; To understand the impacts of the war  on the women; To fully engage the reader’s mind on the effects of the 3 Rs on the Nigerian Women during the war. Secondary sources such as: Archival materials, newspapers, magazines, journals and internet papers are the main sources of information. Information gathered from these sources will be analyzed using the quantitative research method in historical means. The findings of the study reveal that women played invaluable roles in the execution of the Biafra War. Their activities demonstrated their ability and capacity. However, what is very puzzling is that the women’s revolutionary activities did not have a lasting effect on them. After the war, most of their initiatives were not properly channeled. There have been similar questions as to why Biafran technological innovativeness was not harnessed by the government but considered former Biafran citizens as a threat to national security.



In a male dominated world, the activities of women are often eclipsed. Their efforts towards the improvement of mankind are hardly ever recognized. Women who are credited must have performed outstandingly to receive any form of recognition. Those women are termed ‘Bionic’. Women and their successes ascribed to manlike qualities. They are regarded as ineffiminate since the feminine nature is seen to lack courage, determination, patriotism and ingenuity. These features are said to be masculine features, therefore, only women who possess them is said to be manlike, over ambitious and most times, these qualities are suppressed, their gender being as it were what retards their development.

Women however are not deficient of these qualities: Courage, Patriotism, Industrialization e.t.c. Evidence to these abounds. The question however is whether they have the right opportunity to display these qualities. Women have displayed such qualities where the situation makes it functionally pertinent. For example, in situations of conflict or war, women take up non-feminine roles to complement the struggle or effort of their male folks.

However, despite evidence to the contrary, the belief still exist in the realm of violent conflict, women are usually helpless victims. These assumptions were due for correction. Thus, many scholars such as Nina Mba, Bolanle New, Ngozi Ojiakor have awakened the interest in the study of women affairs in terms of politics, economics, social justice as well as violent conflicts.

  • Background to Study
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This research work is a feminist study. Feminism was defined by the world book millennium 2000 as the belief that women should have economic, political and social equality with men. It also refers to the political movement that works to gain such equality.

This first comprehensive study of the Nigeria Biafra War (1967 – 1970) through the lends of gender explores the valiant and gallant ways women carried out old and new responsibilities in war time and immediate post war Nigeria. The book presents women as embodiments of vulnerability and agency who demonstrated remarkable resilience and initiative, waging war on all fronts in the face of precarious conditions and scarcities and maximizing opportunities occasioned by the hostilities.

The book fills the gap in the war scholarship that has minimized women’s complex experiences fifty years after the hostilities ended. It highlights the cost of the conflict on Nigerian women, their participation in the hostilities and their contributions of the survival of families, communities and the country. The work present counter-narratives to fictional and non-fictional accounts of the war, especially those written by men which often peripheralize or stereotypically represent women as passive spectators or helpless victims of the conflict and also highlight and exaggerate women’s moral lazity and sensationalize their marriage infidelities.

  • Scope of Study

This work is an examination of the role of women in the Nigeria Biafra war, thereby centered on the positions of women in war and situation of violent conflicts.

The periodization of this work is from 1967 – 1970 .1967 is very significant in that it was the year that the war started. On the other hand, 1970 was when the war ended.

  • Aim and Objectives

The aim of this work is to analyze the role of women in the Nigeria Biafra war from 1967 –1970.

The objectives are:

  1. To have a clear view on the background to the Nigerian civil war and it’s causes;
  2. To enlighten the people on the participation of the women civil war and it’s causes;
  3. To understand the impacts of the war on the women;
  4. To fully engage the reader’s mind on the effects of the 3 Rs on the Nigerian Women during the war.
    • Conceptual Clarifications

For the purpose of a better understanding of this research work, the following would be used in the course of this work:

  1. Militia: An army of trained civilians which may be an official reserve. It can be either military or para-military.
  2. Garrison: A permanent military post. It is a military fort or a body of troops stationed at a military fort. An example of a garrison as to send army troops to an area in need. It is also a fortified place with troops, guns etc.
  3. Feminism: A social theory or political movement supporting the equality of both male and females in all aspect of public and private life. Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal and social equality of the sexes
    • Literature Review
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Books on the Biafran war are profuse and varied, however, they are mainly male oriented since the roles of women are shunned. Most trend to be gender insensitive as they seem to concentrate on the male view of the Biafran war. The fact is that whether intentionally done or not, these books neglect the roles of women in the war. None the less, there exist some literature that provides some information from which a lot can be deduced.

In the Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War, Alexander A. Madiebo acknowledged the fact that both males and females were trained for the Biafran militia. A detailed description and function of the militia is given. One of these is to educate the populace as to why they engaged in war. Another given reason was to garrison all areas captured or regained from the enemy. From accounts, women performed these functions credibly. Beyond that brief mention, the rest of the book is devoted to male related actions2.

John de St. Jorre agrees with Madiebo in his book, the Nigerian Civil War . Information is provided of women’s activities. He commends the efforts made by the women’s voluntary services. An organization , he say was formed and organized  by Biafran women to cater for the needs and welfare of the Biafran troops.  Their activities included serving as cooks, relief workers and nurses. These functions were extended to the Biafran populace. His account of the war is relatively detailed on the activities of women2.

The Broken Bridge, R. A Alade is a doctor’s account of the war. He also mentioned the participation of women  and notes that their ingenuity and skills were responsible for the survival of hundreds of Biafrans. He explains how poorly skilled personnel managed hundreds of casualties; this was a huge responsibility which they managed laudably and their skill and the job training contributed to the survival of many Biafrans.

Jones O. Ahazuem and Syndey Emezue in a social history of Nigerian Civil War, devoted an entire chapter to women’s affairs during the war, a detailed account is also given on women’s activities . The chapter highlights contributions to the win the war efforts through organizations such as the council of women’s societies and the Biafra Red Cross. It expounds on the women’s various donations in manpower and material donations. The chapter also explains the pursuit of the women and their negative social consequences.

Kate Nkwo in an editorial in the Biafran Sun, ‘Women and the Challenge’ also provided materials for this research, articles on the contributions women were featured in its over two years publication. These articles corroborate oral evidence of donations of money, provision and donation of blood by the Biafran Women5.

Chinua Achebe in his work, ‘Igbo Women in the Nigeria Biafra War’ gives a brief account of the event of the war and the roles played by women in the Biafran sector. It gives examples of coping strategies of women. Generally, his work highlights the role of women in the survival of the Biafran population.

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Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike also made mention of women’s participation. His work is centered on the Ogwa women. He makes mention of their efforts and distribution of food to soldiers at the war front, running the sick bays for wounded soldiers.

Furthermore, articles on women’s contribution were channeled at eliciting sympathy in the face of an evident world’s indifference to Biafra’s plight.

Thus, though literature on the Biafran war is profuse, it is gender insensitive. Those highlighted in this review are those that mentioned women in their accounts. Other works have the role of women marginalized, dwarfed or totally grossed over. Therefore, at the lack of balanced accounts on the efforts of women to the Biafran course, this reason has created a vacuum that needs to be filled. There is the need to highlight and appreciate positively, the contributions of Biafran women. This research will endeavour to sharing to the limelight more positively, these contributions and their consequences.

  • Significance of Study

This research work will be a major breakthrough in the historical reconstruction of the role of women in the Nigeria Biafra War. This is for the following reasons:

  1. This study will bring into limelight the role of women in the Nigeria Biafra was as there is little or no existing historical evidence in this area of study.
  2. The research work when completed will definitely highlight the effects of gender on the activities of women.
  3. The research will also assess the consequences of these contributions including change in the social perception of women’s place in the society.
  4. This research will thoroughly correct the disservice to the spirit in which these women struggled.

These it tends to achieve by giving a detailed description and background study to the role of women during the Nigeria Biafra war.

  • Research Methodology

Due to the dearth in available literature on the subject of discuss, the research will majorly make use of secondary sources such as: Archival materials, newspapers, magazines, journals and internet papers. Information gathered from these sources will be analyzed using the quantitative research method in historical means. This is so because existing works tend to dilate on activities of men. This has proved to be a serious handicap to the study of the Biafran women’s role in the war because the accounts give a one sided view of women’s contribution to the war effort.

Pages:  71

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF         

Chapters: 1-5                                                               

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract, References & Appendix.


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