Mauritanian women have known different status since the independence. In fact, the Mauritanian woman has fought for her emancipation like any other modern women. Realizing that she can't no more stand for being confined; she has made known her voice in order to participate in the economic and social development of her country.
However, according to Mauritanian traditions, a women must be hard working, docile, submissive and patient. It is up to man to have the first and last word. She has nothing to do, but obey. All her occupation deals with cooking and looking after children. She cannot be given the opportunity to go to school. Everything in the society must be held by men. As an example, in the past Mauritanian women had no right to decide about weddings and social ceremonies. Only a very few women were able to read and write. Most of them were not allowed to have access to further education. They have suffered from polygamy, precocious marriage and affliction of birth. But nowadays, Mauritanian women are getting rid of these social, cultural and psychological burdens. As a matter of fact, Mauritanian family knows today some harmony resulting from the contribution of the wife about the familial expenses which were only on the husband's back. For instance, most of the women from the southern part of Mauritania are farmers whose crops are not only for sale, they are too to be consumed in the family. Some of them that live in big cities share the rent with their husbands. In general many more of them held out some kind of feminine cooperatives, the money from which they pay for their own basic needs for not to disturb husbands. Thus, Mauritanian modern women feel like to share the same status with her compatriot men. Some years ago (from 1976-1980) 45% of the agricultural activity were held by women; contrasted to 20% raising animals. Today most of Mauritanian black urban women make dyeing and sell out these products in the market place. There is a women's trade fair which is yearly organized in Nouakchott by the government on the behalf of al female citizens so that the display all what they could produce within running the twelve months. On that day, Mauritanian women show the goods they invented by themselves such as make up, objets d'art, clothes in fashion, etc.
Indeed, Mauritanian white women travel the most. They shuttle between Mauritanian big cities and the rest of the world by paying and selling. That is in the economic field, they play an important role. They contribute to the investment of a large number of plans which are to be boosting the national economy. The government itself gives a considerable opportunities to women to be in the sector of insertion and reinsertion. The schooling of young girls is about 80%. As for the instruction of illiterate women, is being encouraged since the 1990's. For one of the most important things the president and the head of the government worry about is to help women how to access to the active life by going to school or having experience in contradiction to the past, the present Mauritanian women is subject to changing role in any kind of era. Though, many more women enjoy being integrated in the professional activities.
However, the way of Mauritanian women's life and role change as much as time evolves. In fact in the after math of independence, no women had the right to talk politics. At that time, Mauritanian women were only told and taught to get the husband's household into shape. Only a few white Arab women could learn the country's religion (Islam) by reciting the Koran and Hadiths . Around the 1970s, some parents started sending their daughters to Mahadras (Koranic schools) as only a very few of parents were for modern school. As a mater of fact, at that time, women's role was mainly, educating children and taking care of the kitchen. She had neither voice, nor choice. But around the 1990s, Mauritanian women started tasting the political matters in particular and professional functions in general a women started gaining the same status as men.
Consequently the government has granted an important role to the women in any field. Thus there is today a ministry called "State Secretary's Office for Women's Status" at the head of which rules a woman. This post was created to the advent of democracy in Mauritania. Since democracy, born 20th of July, 1990, women have been given rights to enjoy all from all their physical and mental faculties. They have been given better chances to feel themselves at home as they could apply for any job from the civil service. During the legislative elections of the summer, 1996, about 10 women were elected to parliament.
Added to that, from 1996 on, a great number of women were hired in different kinds of posts. Also many women have gained the grade of Police Inspector. A lot of women are working at health services. For instance, at the national hospital center, three out of five nurses are women. The health competition that is held each year, help Mauritanian young girls up. In the secondary education, many women live on by teaching. And, a lot of graduate girls join student programs abroad. After all, the Minister of Health and social affairs is a woman. That is, Mauritanian women of today is no more that of yesterday.
Today, Mauritanian women have or try to have any means through which they can be emancipated from the weight of tradition, polygamy, forced marriage, precocious marriages, excision, birth control and so on having social backgrounds, leave something to be desired. As for sex equality, it's another story that will take too much time