The Male to Female Child Preferences in African Homes,its Implications and the way forward.

Over the past years, the phenomenon of male to female child preferences has persisted in several parts of the world. However in places like Africa, the bias between male to female child preference occurs to be more pronounced as most people consider the male child as the crowning glory in African marriages.And as a result, there exist a level of social and  family pressure on a married couple who are at all cost expected to have at least a male child and those who can’t  bear a male child are regarded as abnormal and in some cases could be secretly mocked by family members and people of the society since it is often believed that a man with no male descendant in effect quenches the fire of life and becomes forever dead as his line of physical continuation is blocked as a result of the non-availability of a male child who is believed to pass and carry on with the family name since the female child on the other hand is expected to get married someday and bear the name of her husband Oladimeji (1980).

However aside the believe held about male child being the only child capable of keeping the family linage, other reasons Africans place a high preference on male child than a female child is also due to cultural traditions such as death rituals of the father. And also in some cases in Africa, the male child serve as a traditional form of widowhood insurance for a lady if she losses her husband to death as only in such situations whereby she has a male child for the man will she be eligible to inherit the property of the late husband Das Gupta, Zhenghua et al (2003).

Meanwhile, having considered some of the factors that brings about the male to female child preferences in most African societies, the consequences shouldn’t be left untouched such as exposing the lady(wife) to birth risk through the process of having a large number of kids while trying to have that preferred gender which could either be a male or a female child.  Another consequence is that it may lead to extramarital relationships as it was observed in Kenya by Mayuya (2012) when men who had no male kid would go as far as to having other mistress who they believe can provide them their preferred gender in most cases a male child. And in some cases, it could lead to a polygamous home were the husband takes up two or more ladies as his wife and in some extreme situation, the first wife might end up being too heart broken and might have to leave the marriage.

Given that most of the factors which causes this male to female child preferences revolves around cultural-Societal factors, one way forward would be to combat against such cultural practices that tend to prioritizes the male to female child or the cultural believe of not allocating any or less property to the wife of a late man because she had no male child for him, and also the importance of educating people about gender equality in societies can not be over emphasized. Because the more informed the people are, the less they would attribute differences to the male or female child.  


Boonzaaier, C., 2002, ‘Tsonga’, in M. Ember, C.R. Ember & I. Skoggard (eds.), Encyclopaedia of world cultures supplement, New York, viewed 18 June 2020, from

Das Gupta, M.,  Zhenghua,  J.,  Bohua,  L.,  Zhenming,  X., Chung,W.,  & Hwa-Ok,  B. (2003). Why is son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? A cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea.  The Journal of Development Studies, 40(2), 153{187}

Eguavoen, A.N.T., Odiagbe, S.O., &Obetoh, G.I. (2007).The status of women, sex  preference,  decision  making  and  fertility  control  in  Ekpoma  community  of Nigeria. J. Soc. Sci., 15(1): 43-49

Mayuya, J., 2012, ‘Kenya: Male child syndrome – The African girlchild’s nightmare’, The Star, 08 September 2012, viewed 17 June 2020, from

Oladimeji, O., 1980, African traditional religion, Ilesanmi Press, Ilesa.

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