Critics of Nollywood especially gender activists, have challenged its predominant, if not exclusive portrayal of women for its narrowly traditional occupational and domestic roles and images. This paper seeks to examine various ways women are depicted in Nollywood films, including physical appearance, domestic and family life, occupational life and interpersonal relationships over a 20 year period spanning the video film era. The research employed a quantitative content method to analyse 10 films while the coding sheet that contained established content categories served as the data gathering instrument. A multistage sampling technique was used to draw the sample. The findings revealed that although there is a higher percentage of women than men in Nollywood films, women still play diminished central roles, and continue to be portrayed less frequently in roles that reflect current social realities than men, especially regarding the professions. Nollywood continues its penchant of depicting successful and powerful women in social and domestic settings as dangerous and doomed for destruction. This characterisation apart from the potential of discouraging females from creating a niche for themselves, simultaneously severely hampers the critical role of generating new cohorts of outstanding independent and powerful females in business, politics or the professions. It can be concluded that the representation of women in Nollywood has not witnessed any radical departure from the traditional preconception of women roles in societies over the two decades. Roles and contemporary treatment of women in Nollywood films should rather emphasise, current accomplishments or successes of women in several spheres of life and do away with negative representations which only help in accentuating and perpetuating stereotypes.

Author Biography

Kevin Uwaecheghi Onyenankeya (Ph.D), is a research fellow in the Department of Communications, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa. His research interests include Media and Communication, Intercultural studies, Development and Organisational Communication. He has over 18 years professional experience including 12 years of active journalism practice spanning business, news reporting and features writing in some of Nigeria’s leading newspapers.

Oluwayemisi Mary Onyenankeya is a Ph.D research student at the University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa. Her research interests include Intercultural Communication, Gender and Cultural Studies within the context of filmic media and Nollywood particularly. She has considerable field research experience working with multi-skilled research teams with academic training in a variety of disciplines and diverse fields of specialisation.

Oluyinka Osunkunle (Ph.D) is a Professor and Head, Department of Communication, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa. His research interests include community Media, New Media, intercultural and Organisational Communication.