Women in Nigeria are economically weak…
In 2014 The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, said 70% of Nigerian women are living below poverty line.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in their National Manpower Stock And Employment Generation Survey dated 2010…(the most recent)….the profile of an unemployed person in Nigeria, is a rural dweller, aged between 15-24, university educated to first degree and female.
There were more unemployed females (24.9%) than their male counterpart (17.7%).
A report by JC Kwesiga in 1999 showed that in Africa, women constitute 52% of the total population, contribute 75% of the agricultural workforce, produce and market 60 to 80% of food.
So why are women poor in Nigeria? Many reasons
Women face discrimination in all aspects of life.
A recent case n Nigeria, The Supreme Court in 2014, voided the Igbo law and custom, which forbid a female from inheriting her late father’s estate, on the grounds that it is discriminatory and conflicts with the provision of the constitution.
Flann and Oldham in a research in 2007 found that women still face gender discrimination in laws, policies and practices.
The National Gender. Policy, 2006 stated that “gender-based division of labor, disparities between male and female access to power and resources, and gender bias in rights and entitlements remain pervasive in Nigeria”.
Women are not fully participants in the labor force
Federal ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in its 2008 Nigeria Gender Statistics Book, stated that 43.1% of women are employed compared to 56.9 in men out of a total workforce of 40,567,978
Female in Nigeria have the highest unemployment figures in both rural and urban areas for all age groups in Nigeria as defined by the NBS, Being female and poor is what cuts across all regions in Nigeria.
Access to credit, in terms of financial inclusion is low for women,
Women in Nigeria fall far behind in financial inclusion. In a survey done by EFInA in 2014, 21.4m females (42.7% of the total female population) are financially excluded versus 15.6 million males (35.8% of the total male population).
4. Lack of education is higher in women,
According to the then CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, net enrolment of girls in schools in Nigeria, was 22% in 2013
Women in Nigeria in all regions have the lowest access to education…Women constitute about half the country’s population. However, trained women form an insignificant percentage of the total skilled force in Nigeria partly, because they were not exposed to education early enough, a factor of incidence of poverty.
Besides, there is high level of female illiteracy in Nigeria (Adelabu, and Adepoju (2007) and this explains why majority of them are engaged in the informal sector of the economy.
5. Women have to balance careers and childbirth.
Nwoye MI in 1995 wrote that Nigerian women, like their counterparts in other parts of Africa traditionally have multiple responsibilities as mothers and producers and therefore tend to engage in activities that are home-based and less risky.
Young females are often exposed to poverty induced nutritional and health risks within households. Girls drop out of school to take care of siblings which result in low education and low paid jobs from one generation to the next. This limits their economic activities and autonomy (Ajakaye, and Olomola 2003 as quoted by Alese 2010).
6 Women suffer from Time Poverty
Melinda Gates said women in the developing world face “time poverty”. Women are busy fetching water, wood taking care of kids and cooking that they have no time for anything else. They cannot go to school, or work outside the home. That lack of mobility hampers them, traps them.
These issues have created unique constraints that only women face for instance the term Missing Women
Gender inequality is captured in the term “missing women” coined by Amartya Sen. the term captures fact that the proportion of women is lower than what would be expected if girls and women throughout the developing world were born and died at the same rate. In simple terms Women live longer than men but girls die earlier than boys.
The above statistics are unfortunate because women are key to economic development, Closing the gap in well-being between males and females is as much a part of development as is reducing income poverty. If a nation population is an assets, then in Nigeria we may have underdeveloped our human capital assets by not empowering women.
Why is it important to empower women?
1) There is a correlation between economic growth and women empowerment. Recognizing the strong proven links between gender equality and poverty reduction, the United Nations Millennium summit in 2000 endorsed the aim to promote gender equality and empower women which is to be reached by all nations by 2015 .
2) Former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, addressing the Fourth UN Conference on Women, said: Education for girls has a catalytic effect on every dimension of development: lower child and maternal mortality rates; increased educational attainment by daughters and sons; higher productivity; and improved environmental management.
3) The World Bank in 2011 Evidence from countries as varied as Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom shows that when women control more household income—either through their own earnings or through cash transfers—children benefit as a result of more spending on food and education.
4) Beaman in a study in 2011 In India, found out that giving power to women at the local level led to greater provision of public goods, such as water and sanitation, which mattered more to women
5) The FAO finds that if women farmers have the same access as men to p roductive resources such as land and fertilizers, agricultural output in developing countries could increase by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent
Women do matter.
So how can we empower women, especially in Nigeria?
A. Educate women,
The Emir of Kano said that 93% of female children in the Northern region lacked secondary education, we must close this gap. Yes we must vote more money towards educating girls, including Conditional Cash Transfers targeting girls.
B. Celebrate educated women at the Local Level.
It has been shown in several contexts that parents and children are sensitive to the perceived returns to education: those who believe that education is more worthwhile invest more in school (avoiding dropping out, being absent less often, or working harder toward exams). Thus we must hold up educated women as roles models.
C. Address the implicit bias in women
There is a widespread “implicit” bias, shared by both men and women, associating men with career and the sciences and women with family and liberal arts Both women and men are more likely to associate women with family and men with careers…
Psychologists have shown this effect, known as the “stereotype threat,” to be very powerful. When female and male students, recognized for being good at math, are given a difficult math test in college, women do worse than men. When they are given the same test after being told, “ You may have heard that girls are less good than boys at math, but this is not true for this particular test,” however, female students do just as well as males (Spencer et al., 1999).
The explanation for this phenomenon is that girls have accepted and internalized the bias that they are not as good at math, and they give up when the going gets tough. When they are told that this “fact” does not apply to that particular test, they know to continue to try hard.
As long as these biases persist, gender equality will be hindered even if the technological conditions for an even playing field are met.
Babcok and Laschever in their research in 2003 found that Women are also negotiating less and less aggressively than men at hiring and during the promotion stage, and are less willing to compete (Babcok and Laschever, 2003 Gneezy et al., 2003).
D. Fix the poverty of time
Women should not have to worry over things technology can fix like getting clean drinking water every day. Free up women’s time by providing clean water allows women more time to be economically productive. .
Simply mandating that organizations establish crèches in workplaces empowers more women to work outside the home and build careers.
Japan is attempting to get itself out of a long recession by bring more women into the formal work force. Japan for instance is changing labor laws and protecting women from workplace discrimination due to pregnancy.
E. Get more women into politics
As of July 2011, only 26 countries in the world had met the target (set by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1990) of having 30 percent or more women in national legislative seats.
The proportion of seats held by women in single or lower houses of parliament was only 19.4 percent globally, up from 15.9 in 2005. (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2011.
More women in politics means a louder voice in passing legal reforms such as granting women equal rights to land ownership and encouraging the enrollment of more girls in secondary schools
Thomas in 1992 suggests that, compared to income or assets in the hands of men, income or assets in the hands of women is associated with larger improvements in child health and larger expenditure shares of household nutrients, health, and housing .
F. Prevent more “missing women”
Melinda & Gates Foundation says The number one cause of death for women aged 15-19 is pregnancy. If women are able to delay giving birth by just one year they and their children stand a higher chance of surviving.
Family planning is an economic empowerment toll, as few children mean less burden on a shrink house hold budget.
Part of this is cultural as women are pressurized to have children.
Social service must target women and children first as they remain the most economically vulnerable citizens in the society. Investments in clean water sanitation and maternal services must be a priority.
Also passing simple laws like extending maternity leave to 12 months has a massive impact on mother and child health
In a world bank in a paper authored by Ellis in 2004 titled Why Gender Matters for Growth and Poverty Reduction concluded that There is growing recognition internationally that gender equality is good for economic growth and essential for poverty reduction
Forbes Magazine in 1999 concluded Where gender inequalities constitute barriers to women entering or participating fully in markets, economic growth and private sector development will be constrained with less investment, less competition, and lower productivity
Its our problem, we can fix it…..
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