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1.1 Background of the study
Contemporary world economic order shows that women have become critical in the affairs of any nation especially in economic and national development process, either in the formal or informal sector, urban or rural areas. The participation of women in the economic life of a country like Nigeria, is only one aspect of their changing roles in the society (Onyejiuwa, 2016). Etim (1995) captures the changing role of women in Nigeria when she remarks that most topical issues in international or global development agenda is women. Today, issues about women have taken varied nomenclatures such as women issues, women concerns, women in development, women in politics and even women in science and technology. Varied as the nomenclatures may be, there is however, global consensus that international development plans must include strategies for the integration of women into the development and economic process. One of the areas that women in Nigeria, particularly at the rural level are expected to be actively involved is in cooperative activities. With participation in cooperative activities, women may be able to change some of their social economic realities in forms of creating opportunities for self-actualization economically, modify public perception on their status and more importantlyimprove their overall standard of living. Contemporary world economy has made the role of women to be no longer limited to child bearing and home management (Okafor, 2008; Arowolo and Achuko, 2010); they have become critical stake-holders in the economic and social advancement of their families and societies (Okafor, 2016). However, active participation of women in cooperative activities may be unsustainable without unhindered access to relevant, timely and accurate information, properly packaged and delivered. It is the perceived lack of adequate knowledge of cooperative opportunity open to the rural women that make their involvement in cooperative activities still far from being satisfactory(Ikonne and Duru, 2015). To unlock women’s economic potentials on cooperative activities and therefore, strengthen their enthusiasm to participate in cooperative activities, information should be provided at the right time, at the right place, in the right quality and quantity. It is the information circumstance of the rural women in Nigeria when viewed against the backdrop of illiteracy, poor communication facilities, existence of harmful cultural practices and the like among rural women that make people believe that rural women are generally without adequate information on cooperative matters. Women form the majority in the rural areas, and are involved at all stages of agricultural enterprises, responsible for about 80% of all food items produced (Njar, 1990; Mgbada 2002; Rahman, 2004) and 70 percent of food production and 50 percent of the domestic food storage in the country (Ritche, 1977). In addition, they form an active and reserve labour force but they rarely own the means of productions (Rahman 2004) suggesting that the position of women in agricultural development cannot be over emphasized. Cooperatives have been regarded as one of the main institutional machineries for empowering the economically weak members of the society. Cooperatives are able to promote economic and social development because they are commercial organizations that follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with the profit motive. Cooperatives play an important role in job creation by directly providing self-employment to members and service provision for non-members. Enterprise development and particularly the promotion of small and medium enterprises, has been adopted as a prerequisite and a strategy for job creation and economic growth in a large number of countries (Essien, 2000). Despite the availability of cooperativesocieties and efforts of government at all levels, it appears that a significant proportion of rural women are either unaware of the existence of such co-operative societies or are lacking in the basic socioeconomic characteristics that form the prerequisite for participation in such activities (Idrisa et al., 2007). In some cultures, women are restricted from conducting business independently or without their husband„s consent. This poses a serious challenge to participation in cooperative activities. Even though in some cases women„s legal rights may be stipulated in a cooperative they may not necessarily be enforced or they may be superseded by customary law. It is in line with this view that Ashanti (1993) observed that lack of social, economic and legal rights explains women's low participation in cooperative decision-making and leadership positions. Besides cultural issues, women, especially in developing countries, are confronted by formidable constraints that block their active participation in cooperatives most especially, the traditional role of women in society and the prevalent misconception that women's reproductive and domestic responsibilities constitute their main role. However, Eboh (1988), recognized that despite women‟s major responsibilities in the household health and nutrition, women’s role in agriculture cover all facts of agribusiness including food production, livestock production, fishery as well as farm management.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Cooperatives have been regarded as one of the main institutional machineries for empowering the economically weak members of the society. Cooperatives are able to promote economic and social development because they are commercial organizations that follow a broader set of values than those associated purely with the profit motive. Cooperatives play an important role in job creation by directly providing selfemployment to members and service provision for non-members. Enterprise development and particularly the promotion of small and medium enterprises, has been adopted as a prerequisite and a strategy for job creation and economic growth in a large number of countries (Essien, 2000). It is in view of that the researcher intends to investigate the effect of women participation in cooperative
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to ascertain the impact of women participation in cooperatives. To aid the completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following specific objectives;
i) To ascertain the impact of women participation in cooperative in the development of rural women
ii) To investigate the role of cooperative in empowering rural women in Nigeria
iii) To investigate the impact of women participation in cooperative on the development of rural women
iv) To ascertain the importance of cooperative society in women empowerment
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
To aid the completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher
H0:women participation in cooperative has no impact on the economic development of women in the rural community
H1:women participation in cooperative has impact on the economic development of women in the rural community
H02:cooperative society has no role in empowering women in rural communities
H2:cooperative society has a role in empowering women in rural communities
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the management of cooperative society as the study will help the management in implementing policies that will integrate women into the organization, the study will also be of importance to the government at various level to establish cooperative that are female friendly as to enhance adequate participation of women in rural community. The study will also be useful to researchers who intend to embark on research in similar topic, Finally the findings of this study will also be immense benefit to government, academia, scholars, researchers and the general public.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers women participation in cooperative, however in the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) FINANCE: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
A cooperative is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise
A woman is a female human being. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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