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1.1 Background of the Study

Gender discrimination has become a contemporary issue which has featured both in national and international debates in developed and developing countries of the world. This has also attracted the attention of researchers, academic, public analysts and the society in general. There is a growing concern among economists and labour leaders that discrimination at work place is a breach of human right with harmful effects on human ability, welfare, economic growth and productivity. Labour market studies have also shown that where discrimination exists in the labour market, it generates other socio-economic inequalities that sabotage social cohesion and work relationship and act as a break on the reduction of poverty and national tragedies (International Labour Organization (ILO, 2007, Ogbogu, 2010).

United Nations Development Programmers (UNDP, 2009) observed that between 1985 and 2008, income inequality in Nigeria worsened from 0.43 to 0.49 percent, thus Nigeria ranks among the highest unequal countries in the world, despite its vast resources. However, in the area of education, there is a clear case of inequality. Different observations have been made in this direction. For instance, in Third World countries, evidence shows that continuous gender inequality hinders development in education as well as economic growth (Klasen, 2002). Gender stratification research reveals that the discrimination against women in education is not only devastating on humanitarian grounds, but also a major hindering factor towards achieving economic development. Increased access to education is viewed as the means for obtaining gender parity as well as progress in economic development. However, limited access to education for girls in Nigeria as well as in many other developing countries persists and continues to be a major concern for policy prescribers and the international community as a whole (Stromquist, 1989).

The right to education according to the United Nations (UN) is a fundamental human right from which everyone, irrespective of race, national origin, or gender, should have the full opportunity to benefit from. Many developing countries signed on to this right after they gained independence, this right which was clearly stated in the 1948 declaration. ‘Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional


education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit… (Article 26).’ The Nigeria Human Development Report (2009) stated that there is consensus in gender pay differences against females and in favour of male even after the equal pay legislation was introduced in Nigeria over 40 years ago. The 2007 Gender Equality Duty further reinforced Gender equality legislation. Gender Equality Duty applies to all public bodies and aspects of the 2010 Equality Act. The UNDP (2009) indicates that Nigeria’s gender pay gap is one of the highest in the world and females are under-represented in the well paid and more powerful positions.

Studies show that a range of barriers, which include reproductive roles, lack of access to productive assets, as well as issues relating to education, together account for the observed gender disparities in income (World Bank, 2009). Other income disparities can be traced to workplace gender discrimination in both the private and public sectors. The study by Oyelere (2007) shows men earn on average the equivalent of N2,300 per month more than women in Nigeria, and this made the income gap to rise by a minimum of US$23 per month during that period. This inequality shows that men received a 28% increase in mean income between 1998 and 2005. ILO (2010) further reports that on the average, women earn 20-30 percent less than men across the globe.

In Africa, Labour force participation rates are extremely gender-specific. According to World Bank (2007) report, women are much less likely to be economically active than men in all age groups and in all countries for which data were available, apart from Burundi, the Gambia, and Sierra Leone. On average in the region, the difference between the labour force participation rate for men (78.3 percent) and women (61.0 percent) stood at 17.3 percentage points, which is higher than in the European Union. There were also large differences across countries, with the female participation rates ranging from below 40 percent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, to 80 percent and higher in Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Low female participation rates in several African countries compared to other regions of the world may be the result of women’s traditional participation in subsistence farming and market production in agriculture. Base on available statistics at the time, the World Bank (2013) also shows that in most regions of the world (Nigeria inclusive), opportunities for women to participate in paid employment have continued to rise. Careers once regarded as exclusively masculine have witnessed the influx of women. Despite the discrimination women face in the world (Nigeria inclusive), this study


is timely and important in order to understand the relationship among education, earnings and gender discrimination in Nigeria labour market.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Gender inequality in the labour market remains a pressing problem in contemporary Africa. Although there are large variations across countries in male and female labour market outcomes, evidence shows that, in several countries, women are less likely to be in well-paid jobs. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, 2012) observed that, in the Federal Civil Service, which is the largest single-entity employer in Nigeria, 76% of civil servants are men and 24% are women. Meanwhile, women constitute less than 14% of the total management level positions, while 17.5% of those engaged in the medical field are women, compared with the 82.5% men. This is because gender disparities discourage the entry of women in most of these sectors and thus make investment through education of women in such profession less rewarding and few woman are constantly seen in those fields and making the situation seem like females are not employable on one hand and on the other hand appears like employers are not employing females, as documented by the discrimination theory. This type of discrimination cannot be measured easily, it becomes an institutional factor which has adverse effects on women's economic status by lowering their incentives to continue schooling, participate in training programmes, and to eventually remain in the labour market. Besides, other indications of gender disparity, as suggested by CIDA (2012) indicates that men involved in the formal sector are approximately 87% against the 13% of women, while the extractive industry with an annual business volume of over US $ 42m has virtually zero level involvement by women.

Another feature of the Nigerian labour market is the high unemployment rate. The survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2010 showed that the national unemployment rate is 21.1 percent representing an increase of 1.2 percent over the 2009 rate. Between 2005 and 2010 there was an increase in national unemployment rate from 11.9 percent to 21.1 percent. Further analysis of the survey also showed that there were more unemployed females than their male counterpart (24.9 percent for female and 17.7 percent for male). The unemployment rates are shown in the table below,


Table 1.1: The National Unemployment rates (2000 – 2010)












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