Participation Of Women In Community Development In Nigeria: A Case Study Of Igbo Eze South Local Government Area, Enugu State

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PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF IGBO EZE SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, ENUGU STATE

ABSTRACT

 

This work studied women participation in community development with special emphasis on Igbo Eze South Local Government Area, Enugu State. The exercise was carried out due to the observed lag in women participation in community development all over the country. The work had four key objectives which it sought to realize. These include: to ascertain the barriers to women participation in agriculture within the local government, to ascertain the impact of low level of education on women participation in community development, to determine how to enhance women participation in the politics of Igbo Eze South Local Government Area and finally to identify ways of empowering the women for optimal participation in the overall development of the communities. The researcher made use of both primary and secondary sources of data to generate data used for the study. These data were presented in tables and analysed using simple percentage. The researcher found out the various barriers to women participation in community development to include cultural practices, low level of women education, poverty among the rural women and violent that characterize the country’s politics. It is therefore recommended that cultural practices that deny women free access to land should be abrogated; Government should provide modern farm implements to the rural women farmers and also educate them on how to use these implements to enhance productivity; girl child education should be made free and also compulsory at least at secondary school levels.

 

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     TABLE OF CONTENTS    
Title         i
Approvalii
Dedicationiii
Acknowledgementiv
Abstractvi
Table of contentvii
List of tablesix
1.0CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION1
I. IBackground of Study1
1.2Statement ofProblem7
1.3Objectives ofStudy10
1.4Significance of Study10
1.5Scope and Limitation of Study11

 

2.0        CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH METHOD 13

 

2.1Literature Review –13
2.2Theoretical Framework29
2.3Research Hypotheses35
2.4Operationalization of Key Concepts36
2.5Research Methodology37

 

3.0        CHAPTER THREE: THE STUDY AREA/ GENERAL INFORMATION 41

 

3.1Historical Background of The Study Area41
3.2Geographical Location 43
3.3The people’s culture43
4.0CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS 45
4.1Data Presentation and Analysis –45
4.2Testing of the Hypotheses62

 

5.0        CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATION, CONCLUSION 71

 

5.1       Summary of Findings       –              –              –              –              –              –              –              71

 

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5.2Recommendations –73
5.3Conclusion75
Bibliography77
Appendices          
Appendice 1 –80
Appendice 2 –81

 

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LIST OF TABLES     
Table 4.1: Marital status of the respondents45
Table 4.2: Age distribution of the respondents 46
Table 4.3: Distribution based on qualification  46
Table 4.4: Responses on the extent at which culture constitute barrier to women 
participation in agriculture 47

 

Table 4.5: Responses on the how poor education of women has served as obstacle to

 

women farmers 48
Table 4.6: Responses on the extent at which women have easy access to land in the 
rural communities  49
Table 4.7: Response on the extent at which female farmers make use modern farm 
tools   –50
Table 4.8: Responses on whether low level of women education hinders their 
participation in the leadership of their community 51

 

Table 4.9: Responses on the impact of low level of education on business or economic

 

success of women52
Table 4.10: Responses on factor that hinders women participation in community 
development more 53

 

Table 4.11: Responses on factor that will enhance women participation in community

 

development more54
Table 4.12: Responses on factors that enhance women political participation more55
Table 4.13: Responses on factor that hinders women political participation more56
Table 4.14: Responses on whether women empowerment can reduce hindrances to 
women participation in community development 57

 

Table 4.15: Responses on the type of empowerment need by the women of Igbo-Eze

 

south local government area58
Table 4.16: Responses on the best way to empower the women financially59
Table 4.17: Responses on how the women would be given political empowerment60
Table 4.18: Responses on ways to empower women educationally61

 

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1.0 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION.

 

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

 

Globally, women participation in community development has been generally less than encouraging despite their numerical strength. The situation has grown so worst that it has generated both national and international recognition. Women empowerment remains the focal point of international conference on women held in Beijing, China in 1995. The number three item in the table of Millennium Development Goals is gender equity and women empowerment. Before MDGs programme, there has been other global treaties, declarations, and conventions on women such as the one held Mexico, Nairobi, Dakar and New York in 1975, 1985, 1994 and 2000 respectively.

 

In Nigeria, various interventions and conferences such as the one held in 1989 was embarked upon to improve the status of women in the society. Nigeria is a signatory to many international instruments such as convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) signed on 13th June 1985. All these efforts made by both Nigerian government and international communities point to the fact that women participation in development has remained abysmally poor both in the developed and developing countries alike but the situation is worst in developing countries like Nigeria where women are regarded as inferior and second class citizen.

 

It has become incontrovertibly clear among the policy makers and international agencies that women constitute bulk of Nigerian population and they are indispensable in the issues of community development. According to 1991 Nigerian census, Nigerian women were reported to represent about 49.7% of the nation’s population. The 2006 National Population Census reveals that women make up 48.78% (about half) of the

 

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population. Despite the numerical strength of women as revealed by the various censuses, women are under represented almost in all aspects of the nation’s economy such as politics, education, agriculture, business enterprises etc. This could be why the current wife of Nigerian president, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan has been on the lead in mobilization of women to demand for 35% women representation in all affairs of the nation. If according to Julius Nyere, “a person does not walk very far or very fast on one leg”, then the development of Nigeria should be a balanced effort of both men and women at all levels.

 

This significant population is not making commensurate impact in the development of the society. The Nigerian society is so patrilineal that women are expected to conform to and confine themselves to their male counterpart. They therefore operate within the scope allowed them by the men (their husbands) who see them as mere home managers incapable of making or contributing to sound policy decision making processes. This has greatly affected the development of the various Nigerian communities especially Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area.

 

It is an indisputable fact that the level of development of any country rely heavily on its human capital utilization. When about half of the country’s population’s (women’s) talents are poorly utilized, the level and pace of development must be generally low. According to the United Nations (2008 ), the productive use of all human resources is a key factor in development. It is agued that if women are to join forces with their men counterpart at all level of development, the pace of development will be accelerated. Yet Nigeria is using only small proportion of the talent of her women. The

 

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question is can development be achieved in any society without maximum utilization of its human capital? Impossible!

 

In the education sector, women fare worse than the men. Education is known to be the best investment in development, yet girls’ education has become a major issue in most developing countries Nigeria inclusive. Educated girls develop essential life skills including self confidence and the ability to participate effectively in society. In Nigeria, girls’ access to basic education especially in northern, states has remained low. According to UNFPA (1993) report about 67.3% of the Nigerian women are illiterates. Education brings benefits to the educated in the form of access to information and it equips men and women alike for greater participation in economic, political, and other forms of community development. Low level of education among Nigerian women especially those of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, constitutes obstacle to development effort in the area.

 

It is believed that although in many countries including Nigeria, school drop out rates are steadily falling, they continue to be higher among the girls than among the boys. According to Akosile (2008) “the most recent available national MDGs progress report states that in Nigeria, the gross enrolment ratio for the boys has remained consistently higher than that of girls by over 10% with a male: female ratio of 55.9%:44.1%. At the level of secondary enrolment, girls have a much higher drop out rate such that by terminal class only 48.83% reach senior secondary school. Consequently, only 39.7% of female students graduate from universities and 37.54% from polytechnics. This is because some parents do not see the benefit of girls

 

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education as girls are given away in marriage to serve the husbands family. This goes a long way to impair women participation in all aspects of community development.

 

According to Obote Karo (2006), it is generally believed in most Nigerian communities including Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area that family name is preserved in the lineage of the male child. The male child is therefore better equipped both educationally and otherwise to take care of the family. Consequently, they become more useful to the society than their female counterpart. It is believed in some quarters that women are for reproduction and domestic activities, hence some of our women especially the Muslim faithful are kept in purdah (house seclusion of women) where they are excluded from social functions and participation in community development.

 

As if this is not enough, some female graduates of different higher institutions of learning have not been equipped to make maximum use of their talents and skills acquired in the course of their education for the development of the society. It is common to find some firms and financial institutions which prefer male employee to female employee and as a result make their employment opportunities more open to the men than the women especially the married ones. This situation is worsened by the wide range of mass unemployment in the country which the women are more vulnerable and the fact that Nigerian education has been quantitatively impressive and qualitatively deficient. Many who secured employment in certain organizations are under employed. Their talents and potentials are poorly utilised and as a result, their contribution to community development is impaired. Some educated women who are married to some rich men are conditioned by their husbands to be at home to take care of the family. This is more prevalent among the less educated husbands. Their husbands

 

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provide for them and their talents and skills lie dormant and waste at their various homes.

 

In the political scene, only a small number of exceptional women have achieved prominence on modern political and government spheres despite their numerical strength. Being almost half of the population, the representation of women in government even though has improved than before is still very low compared to their population and what obtains in other nations of the world particularly in the developed nations. According to Adetotun (2010) in April 2007, there were a total of 1,200 women aspirants to 1,532 offices. 660 of these women won their primaries. Of the 660 candidates who contested elections for various posts, 96 finally emerged as winners: six deputy governors, nine senators, 27 national representatives, and 55 in various state Houses of Assembly. Even though this represents a significant increase in female participation in the political process, it is still a far cry from the aspirations of women the world over for full participation.

 

According to Jayne Uche (2008) in 2007 election in Nigeria, women got 96 out of 1531 elective positions in the country. This was however a major improvement in the sense that it was 27 in 1999 and 67 in 2003. There are 109 seats in the senate but three female got elected to the upper house in 1999, 4 in 2003 and 9 in 2007. In the house of representative which was 360 seats. 12 women were there in 1999, 23 in 2003, and 27 in 2007. The 36 states House of Representative together have 990 seats; women got 12 in 1999, 38 in 2003, and 54 in 2007. Suara (2000) maintains that out of 369 delegates to the constitutional conference of 1995, only 8 were women and currently about 7% of parliamentary seats only are occupied by women.

 

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No woman has ever been a governor in Nigeria in the real sense of the matter despite the fact that Dame Virgy Etiaba was at one time sworn in as governor of Anambra State when the substantive governor, Peter Obi was impeached. Enugu State has never had a female governor or deputy. Nigeria has not recorded a female president, vice president, senate president, deputy senate president, and speaker house of representative or the deputy speaker except for Patricia Etteh, the first and only ex speaker of the house of representative, who could not finish her tenure in office before she was removed.

 

The facts and figures on representation of women in Nigerian politics from 1999 to 2007 show that they are inadequately represented in the executive arm, senate, house of representative, state legislature and local government councils.

 

In the politics of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, women are almost out of the scene. There has never been a female chairman of the local government or the deputy. Women do not even venture into the politics and very few women who attempted, do not survive primary elections.

Financially, most Nigerian women are backward. Much of their work remains invisible, unremunerated and unrecognised. Their annual income has declined so sharply that most of the rural women are living below poverty line. Financial backwardness of Igbo-Eze South women has made them depend on their husbands for living thereby making it difficult for them to take active part in development activities within the community. Since it is said that he who pays the piper dictates the tune, they do not go beyond the limit set by their husbands virtually in all they do. Very few women who go beyond the limit either cope with divorce or severe punishment from the husband.

The data enumerated so far about the position of women in community development are mere tips of the iceberg. It exposes us to the fact that women are grossly disadvantaged. This raises the issue of how to reposition women of Igbo-Eze South for effective participation in development activities in the area. It is on this background that this project is anchored.

 

1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

 

Low level of women participation in community development is the problem that triggered this study. Over the years, women have been relegated to the background in the issues of overall development in Nigeria. The level of women participation in Nigerian development is lamentably poor especially in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area. This is borne out of the sentimental attachment on feminine gender. The Nigerian society bequeaths inferior status on her women and is therefore regarded as subordinate and second class citizens who should submit themselves to the control of the men (their husbands). According to Afolabi (2010), it is surprising to note that the subordination of women knows no boundary or barrier and is not dependent on social, educational or economic status of women in Nigeria.

 

Women constitute about half of the country’s population according to our various censuses, yet they are not given prime of place in its development. As citizens of this great nation who form the bulk of the population, they are supposed to contribute much of their quota to the development of the country. Their intellect should be inculcated into the effort channelled towards the development of the wider society. Regrettably,

 

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they still suffer a lot of constraints and inhibition which militate against their personal development which consequently retard their contribution to the growth and development of Nigerian society. If, despite the numerical strength of Nigerian women, they do not play commensurate role in the development of Nigeria, then the desired growth and development of the society may be retarded.

Gender inequality is experienced by women and is manifested in almost all aspects of human endeavour in Nigeria. At birth, a male child is preferred and pampered; the girl child is not so welcomed. As she grows, she is prepared for the societal role of home keeping to the detriment of wider participation in community development.

In the Nigerian political scene, women are almost silent both at the federal, state and local government level, where the situation is the worst. Politics is regarded as men affairs in Igbo Eze South Local Government. The area has not recorded a woman as its political head and consequently, women to a large extent cannot influence policy decision making processes in the area.

Women in this area are often excluded from participating in community decision making. According to Davis et al (2010) they do not participate in policy formulation and decision making process even in the issues that affect them directly. Many reasons explain this. Cultural rules prohibit their presence in certain gathering or active participation in some context such as certain kinds of formal meetings or rituals. Some of the women have been conditioned by socio cultural structure not to be heard in public especially in the presence of their husbands even when they have good ideas.

 

In agriculture, women in Igbo Eze South are disadvantaged relative to men. Women in this male dominated social structure are denied equal access to land. They

 

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are not allowed to own a piece of land or to inherit it from the parents or the husband. In some cases in conflict situation, women are not allowed or consulted in the discussion of land related issues.

 

In the area of education, women constitute a larger percentage of illiterate groups in Igbo Eze South Local Government. This could be attributed to the fact that previously in most families, parents preferred sending their sons to school instead of their daughters whom they felt would eventually get married and thus get incorporated into another family. Many of the women therefore remained uneducated and unexposed when according to Fredrich Herbison (2000) education is the main tool for impacting skills and attitude relevant to the contribution of individuals to national development.

 

Moreover, tradition and customs make the men in this quarter believe that women should be seen and not heard and as a result, women in this part of the country have no voice on certain aspects of the community. These cultural norms and practices has entrenched a feeling of inferiority in women and place them at a disadvantage vis a vis their male counterpart in the socio-economic and political scene.

 

It is against these background problems that this study poses the following research questions.

 

  • What are the barriers to women participation in agriculture in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area?

 

  • How has low level of education impacted negatively on women participation in community development in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area?

 

  • What modalities should be put in place to enhance women political participation in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area?

 

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  • How can the women be empowered for maximum participation in the development of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area?

 

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY

 

Generally, this study aims at finding solutions to the barriers to women participation in the development of Igbo Eze South Local Government area of Enugu State.

 

Specifically, the work is embarked upon to realize the following objectives:

 

  • To ascertain the barriers to women participation in agriculture in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area.

 

  • To ascertain the impact of poor education on women participation in the community development in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area.

 

  • To determine how to enhance women political participation in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area.

 

  • To identify ways of empowering the women for greater participation in all spheres of community development.

 

1.4  SINGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Theoretically, this work is relevant due to its contribution to existing literature on women participation in community development. Its relevance lies on its capacity to extend the frontier of knowledge on women participation in community development. Teachers, lecturers and readers will find the work useful as a reference material.

Practically, it is relevant because if government adhere strictly to the recommendations of the work and include women in the decision making process, it

ll help to speed up the development of our society. The work will encourage the women to properly mobilize themselves towards actualizing community development goals. It will help to restore the dignity of women in the society against the inferior status the society accords them.

1.5    SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY

This study focuses on the participation of women in community development. It examines the basic problems affecting women participation in development and tries to come up with measures capable of promoting their participation in community development in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area.

The work encountered some obstacles which served as its limitations. It was not easy getting all the materials needed for the study. Vital documents like journals, literature and other relevant materials were not easy to come by. Accessing the Internet for vital and relevant data was also not easy due to network fluctuation in the country.

 

Some of the target respondents exhibited poor attitude towards the work. It was difficult getting back some of the distributed questionnaires. Majority of them refused to avail themselves for interview for the fear that information gotten from them may put their job in jeopardy. To overcome this problem, the researcher had to explain to them critically the main purpose of the research as well as assuring them of their anonymity. Finance equally served as constraint to the success of the work. Carrying out the study involved a lot of money. Much was spent travelling from one community to the other in search of vital information and on printing, typesetting and binding of the research into a booklet.

The research was conducted along side with other time demanding academic work. It was done in conjunction with classroom assignment, term papers, lectures, and examination. As a result, the researcher would not have devoted the required maximum time to the work to achieve best result if not for proper rationing of time among the time competing schedules.

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