Home Institution

St. Olaf College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


My study is on the role of women in Muslim families in Dakar, Senegal. What are they expected to do for their families? How do these women feel about their position and role in their families? What aspects of their role in the family do they enjoy and which do they wish were different? How is their role changing as more women enter the workforce? This topic interests me because many people in the United States have a negative perception of the position of women in Muslim societies. They claim that these women are oppressed and that the women suffer from the paternalistic values of Islam. I want to hear the stories and opinions of the Muslim women in Dakar and allow them to express how their religion affects their role in their families and how they feel about this influence. In order to not overextend myself, I limited the scope of my study by doing a case study of Muslim mothers in my neighborhood of Ouakam in Dakar. I conducted my research primarily through interviews with women and a few men in my neighborhood and through limited (participant) observation in their homes and in my host stay family. I also did secondary research on the topic of women’s roles in Muslim societies that are similar to Senegal as well as the experience of Senegalese women, specifically.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Women's Studies


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