The author analyses perspectives on cross-gender relations in precolonial Idoma society, the implications of this for Idoma women and the overall development process. Relying on oral history, he identifies three perspectives, viz. that of those who view women in Idoma society as marginalised and disempowered; that of those who contend that women were never marginalised and oppressed; and that of those who attempt to bridge the hiatus between the first two extreme standpoints.
It appears that traditional Idoma had definite perceptions on the female gender in terms of her significance, what she can do and cannot and/or should not do. The author also demonstrates the fact that whereas the significance of women was never in doubt, the patriarchal context within which they performed their roles induced stereotypes that made possible their subordination and consequent marginalisation by their male counterparts. It was from this prism that the real implications of sociocultural attitudes towards women became critical issues in the type of gender relations which emerged.