GENDER ISSUES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF IKWO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE 2006-2011

GENDER ISSUES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF IKWO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE 2006-2011

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ABSTRACT

This study investigated Gender Issues and the Challenges of Rural Development in Nigeria, a case study of Ikwo local government Area of Ebonyi State (2006-2011). The major problem of this research is women’s gender discrimination, their poverty, powerlessness in the development of rural areas. The major objective is to evaluate gender issues and the challenges of rural development in Nigeria. The researcher used descriptive survey in the research and questionnaire, which was the main instrument of the study was administered to 200 respondents comprising of male, female and youth. The researcher analyzed data collected using percentages and p-values. The major findings of the study were that women gender are discriminated against in decision making which affect rural development by posing challenges considering the results of the study, it is obvious that certain challenges of bais in gender and socio-cultural practice inhibit women gender from participating in rural development. Women needs administrative support of policy makers to excel in their various humanitarian endeavour. Also other policies like equal education for all, good recruitment scheme, institutional re-orientation, cultural regeneration and effective law are the recommendation for this research work.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

          Gender is a social construction and codification of differences between the sexes and social relationship between women and men (Oppong 1987, Mason 1984). The fundamental contributions of women in their households and national economies are increasingly acknowledged in Nigeria and by international community mainly because of their energetic efforts to organize, articulate their concerns and make their voices heard. At both grassroots and national levels, more women associations are taking advantage of the new political openings to assert their leadership roles.

          Gender issues and the challenges of rural development in Nigeria has attracted attention of national discuss from the academia, economist, cultural and political class. They are pressing for an expansion of women’s economic and social opportunities and the advancement of women rights. By improving their own positions, women enhances the country’s broader development prospects. Hence, it is pertinent to note that, women in Nigeria have continued to face enormous challenges.

          A nation’s population is almost divided evenly between males and females except under peculiar circumstances such as war or highly selective immigration which normally affect males more than females (Fapohunda 2012). Furthermore, Fapohunda (2012) states that nevertheless, throughout the ages, the sharing of power, wealth, influence, employment etc between men and women have faced daunting challenges of joblessness, absence of source of livelihood, widowhood and single parenthood. These challenges not withstanding the roles played by women in rural development in Nigeria and in all facts of human endeavours have been quite commendable and notable in the country.

          Thus, the growing recognition of women contributions to rural development has not translated into significantly improved access to resources or increased decision-making powers. Neither has the dynamism that women displace in the economic, cultural and social lives of their rural communities through their associations and informal networks been channeled into creating new models of participation and leadership. Apart from the political challenges the material conditions under which most rural women live and work continue to deteriorate due to conflict, economic and social decline, spread of disease and neglect on the rights of rural women.

          Nigeria is the most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa and is termed the ninth most populous country in the world (Fapohunda 2012). The 2006 National Census puts Nigeria’s population at about 150 million and about 50% of which are females. Many of the women in Nigeria largely live in rural areas under abject poverty. Their personal poverty and contribution is a lot more pervading than that of male and this threatens their survival, health of the nation and development in rural areas in Nigeria.

          The United National Development Programme (UNDP), in its 2005 Human Development Report listed some examples to show that in spite of the considerable progress in developing women’s capacities, women and men still live in an unequal world. Example include, poverty has a woman face, because 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty in the world are women. This is a challenge to rural development because majority of woman live in rural areas, hence they are unemployed and depend on their husband and relations for their survival.

          However, women in Nigeria have always participated in productive labour. The National Report for the 2004 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development indicates that at least 40% of agricultural production activities and 85% of agricultural produce, process and marketing are performed by women. Women constitute the majority of the poor and the illiterate in both urban and rural areas in Nigeria. In 1994, over 3,000 women converged at the African women’s preparatory conference to articulate on African position for the Beijing fourth women’s world conference. The resulting African platform for Action identified several priorities. These include combating the increasing poverty of African women, improving women’s access to education and health services, with a specific focus on reproductive health, addressing the involvement of women in the peace process, advancing the legal and human rights of women, highlighting the special concerns of the women and girl-child (issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) and “mainstreaming” gender concerns with economic and development policy-making by disaggregating data along gender lines.

          The Beijing conference of 1995 stressed the empowerment of women as one of the central development goals of the 21st century. It adopted a platform for Action which called for the mainstreaming of a gender prospective in the design, implementation and monitoring of all policies and programmes, including development programmes. Countries are committed to design their own specific programmes and activities in consultation with women’s group and other NGO’s to implement the Beijing platform for Action. Despite such positive moves, there has been insufficient political will and unsustained commitment to meeting the needs and interest of woman by local authorities and government. Women head about 31% of households in rural areas. In many rural areas, women contribute unpaid labour to the household’s agricultural production and spend up to 50 hours a week on domestic labour and subsistence food production, with little sharing of tasks by spouses or sons in the household, as shown by researchers.

          If the challenges of rural development in Nigeria are to be tackled headlong, the issue of gender disparity should be addressed through aggressive policy formulation, implementation and political will be increased as a way of improving women’s income is both a matter of equity and a prerequisite for child survival and welfare otherwise the problem may continue unabated.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

          Women’s gender discrimination, their poverty and powerlessness in the rural society are interconnected to rural development despite that women shoulder the primary responsibilities for food security in Nigeria, yet development agencies have devoted minimal resources to researching the impact of their development policies and techniques on the well being of Nigerian women.

          The apparent lethargy on gender and imbalances to accessibility of resources has downgraded women role and contribution to rural development in Nigeria despite that their role to the development of resources are enormous. Active policies to checkmate the discrimination among gender are lacking or completely absent and if they are some available, there are always difficulty in having access to any of the agencies.

          The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its 2005 Human Development Report listed some examples to show that inspite of the considerate progress in developing women’s capacities, women and men still live in an unequal world. The examples include the following: poverty has a women face, because 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty are women in the world.

          The increasing poverty among women arises from their unequal situation in the labour market, their status and power in the family etc. Women’s Labour force participation rose by just 4% in 20 years (from 36% in 1980 to 40 in 2000). The question then is how does women contribute to the development of rural areas in Nigeria.

1.3       Research Questions

          The research questions, which guided this study are:

1.    To what extent do gender issues pose challenges in rural development?

2.    To what extent has the significant impact of gender posed challenges to rural development?

3.    At what extent do gender issues pose challenges to women participation in rural development?

1.4       Statement of Research Objectives

          The broad objective of this study is to evaluate gender issues and the challenges of rural development in Nigeria. The specific objectives include:

1.    To determine the challenges of gender issues to rural development

2.    To evaluate the significant impact of gender to rural development

3.    To determine the challenges of gender issues on women participation in rural development.

1.5       Statement of Research Hypothesis

          Based on the above research questions, it is hypothesized that:

1.    HO1: Gender issues has not in any way posed significant challenges to rural development

2.                    HO2: Gender issues have no significant impact on rural development.

3.                            HO3: Gender issues do not pose significant challenges to women participation in rural development.

1.6       Significance of the Study

          The findings of this study will be of great importance to the feminine gender or the women folk and the general public who has lost hope in women hood contribution to rural development.

          The study will help women in Nigeria to commit themselves strictly on productive ventures of the economy. More so, Nigeria must be committed to eradicating gender inequalities, mainstream gender and re-evaluate the role of women in the development of rural areas.

          It will also enable Nigeria government to formulate appropriate policies to improve the positions of women that will accelerate rural development. Furthermore, the results of this research will motivate and increase women participation in economic, social and legal areas of interest to boost rural development.

          This study will motivate Nigeria to implement the United Nations ratified agreement such as the convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against women, which guarantees women equal rights and protection from discrimination. It will also unveil to Nigerians that, rural national development is hindered by excluding the perspectives, skills and dynamism of half the population.

          This study will be of immense benefit to women network, women association and groups inform of creating gender awareness rights of every women and creating avenue for education of women in Nigeria such that without meaningful commitment in the form of policy changes and the provision of resources to deal with the root causes of women condition, the country called Nigeria should not hope to see breakthrough in its rural development and revival. This work will enable men to understand the role of women in peace building which is the major ingredients of rural development and national building.

1.7       Scope and Limitations of the Study

          Because of financial constraint, dwindling economic fortunes including the time to conduct this research, hence the time available is not adequate to go for further research coupled with inadequate data to process this research makes this work to be limited to a particular area.

          Similarly, the unwillingness of the respondents to take the necessary pains in completing the questionnaire also hindered the progress of this work. Other problems like lack of relevant textbooks for the study where also another set back.

          Due to the difficulties hitherto witnessed in the field and low rate of women participation in rural development as a result of the challenges of gender issues, the research work is restricted and allowed to cover Ikwo Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State.



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