In various regions of Eastern Africa, for example amongst the Kikuyu of Kenya, women enjoyed quasi-ownership rights against the lands being cultivated by them with a say in decision making regarding land distribution and cultivation. Often reinforced by marriage and the factor of their seniority, this allowed elderly females to command an economic independence against the labor of female slaves and younger female members of the family working on the farm.
The resultant social status often provided them with a platform to exert direct or indirect influence – once again, subject to the social milieu of the community – in matters of familial and even communal importance. This also provided these societies with a female element of communal leadership. (Mikell,1997)
The contribution hence made to the community by these women and their resultant social position conformed to and was consolidated by the concept of female goddesses of fertility and life in the religions practiced in most part of the African continent. Primarily engaged in the cultivation of food crops, these women played a pivotal role in the survival of their respective communities and their physical wellbeing.
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