The Influence of Women’s Participation and Empowerment in Development Processes

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

When Third World feminists coined the phrase “women’s empowerment” in the 1970s, it was obviously intended to frame and simplify the struggle for social justice and women’s equality through the change of economic, social, and political systems at the national and international levels (Cohen, 2002). While the origins of each woman’s helplessness (or power) are numerous and varied, it may be instructive to examine what women share in this regard. According to Enemuo (2001), focusing on women’s empowerment as a group demands an investigation of gender relations, or how power exchanges between the sexes are generated and sustained. Men have the most power in male dominated countries, such as Nigeria, over home capitals such as land and cash crops, as well as the labor of women and other members of the home.

According to  Enemuo, (2001), women have historically been a dismissed minority. This is because they lack the necessary production equipment. As a result, they are inferior to their male counterparts. Women have always been the victims of our cultural and religious practices, sex roles, and societal conceptions, all of which have had a substantial impact on women from their inception. It is clear that women’s education and economic conditions frequently influence their level of participation in decision-making at the family, neighborhood, state, and national levels. When compared to men, women bear a greater amount of the burden of household maintenance and childcare responsibilities.

Eboh (2002) states that, one gender is constantly discriminated against as a result of social structure dysfunctions, resulting in differences in access to societal social services, resources, property, and wealth, leading in gender stratification. Women face income differences and a lack of access to suitable jobs as a result of gender inequality. Women and girls around the world are regularly denied access to education and healthcare; they are under-represented in economic and political decision-making; and they experience violence and discrimination. This influence underscores the reality that, in general, women have been excluded from the process that will better their path to self-actualization and economic empowerment. Poverty results when they are lacking, which creates barriers that prevent most women from reaching their full potential, resulting in a violation of their fundamental rights. Women’s empowerment has frequently been suggested as a goal of development intervention (Adams & Castle 1994).

Male dominance in sexual relations, with its ramifications for women’s lack of control over their libido, has denied women the right to choose the number of children they want in many civilizations (Eboh, 2002). This needs a reconsideration of women’s subordination and the creation of a more fulfilling set of arrangements than those currently in place. These can be accomplished by reducing the burden of domestic labor and child care, eliminating institutionalized forms of discrimination, improving women’s economic status, allowing women to choose whether or not to bear children, and implementing measures to combat male violence and control over women (Cohen, 2002). To put it another way, empowerment demands the alteration of subordination structures through reforms in the law, property rights, and other institutions that support and sustain male domination (Correia, 2000). This could be accomplished through improving women’s educational, political, and economic standing so that they can actively participate in development processes.

Gender inequality is prevalent in all cultures, hence the topic of women’s empowerment and gender equality is high on everyone’s mind. Gender disparities are far more prevalent in poor countries than in industrialized countries (Ahmed et al., 2001). Most notably, gender-based discrimination and disparities remain very visible in Nigeria, despite the government’s vigorous efforts to address such issues. As a result, poor women’s empowerment and a wide gender gap continue to stymie the country’s progress (Correia, 2000).

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The Nigerian constitution of 1999 has made provision for the development and preservation of women’s rights. The federal government enacted a national strategy on women in July of 2000. Affirmative action was proposed in this scheme to increase women’s representation in the legislative and executive branches of government by 35%. Furthermore, the Federal Government established the National Women’s Development Centre as a parastatal inside the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The Centre is primarily in charge of conducting research on women’s issues (Correia, 2000).

In the most recent general election, women were represented at all levels of political office at a rate of 6% across the country. In Enugu State, no woman was elected executive chairman of the state’s 17 local government areas, and only five women serve in the state house of assembly, which has 24 members. This represents a major under representation of women, who make up about half of the Nigerian population(Eboh, 2002). Affirmative action has not been fully adopted by governments or political parties. Women continue to have a low level of education, albeit this is rapidly changing. Women in Nigeria are working hard to contribute to the country’s progress, but their potential appears to be underutilized due to a variety of constraints. Men and women continue to experience gaps in education, employment and income opportunities, asset management, personal protection, and participation in the development process (Adams & Castle, 1994). This could be attributed to long-standing constraints such as poor economic conditions for Nigerian women, a lack of effective legislation and regulations to defend women’s rights, unequal access to education, limited access to land, a lack of assertiveness among women, and so on. Education, wealth, and men’s perceptions of the value of women’s participation in development processes have all been recognized as determining variables in women’s participation in development processes.

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The primary objective of this study is to examine the influence of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes. Other specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To examine the level of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes.
  2. To examine whether it is beneficial for women to be involved in development processes.

iii.      To examine the areas women in which women can participate in the development process

  1. To examine the challenges that hinders women’s participation development processes.

 

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. To what level do women’s participate in empowerment in development processes?
  2. Is it beneficial for women to be involved in development processes?

iii.      What areas can women participate in the empowerment and development process?

  1. What are the challenges that hinders women’s participation development processes?

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study will be significant to the federal and state level as the findings of this study will show how women can be empowered economically, socially and educationally. Additionally, this work will serve as a literature review. This means that scholars and researchers who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review.

Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regards to influence of  women’s participation and empowerment in development processes.

1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study will be focused on examining the influence of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes. It will also specifically focus on examining the level of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes, examining whether it is beneficial for women to be involved in development processes, examining the areas women in which women can participate in the development process and examining the challenges that hinders women’s participation development processes.

This study will be using staff of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State as enrolled participants for this study.

1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study will be limited to examining the influence of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes. It will also be specifically limited to examining the level of women’s participation and empowerment in development processes, examining whether it is beneficial for women to be involved in development processes, examining the areas women in which women can participate in the development process and examining the challenges that hinders women’s participation development processes.

This study will be using staff of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State as enrolled participants for this study and as such, the findings of this study cannot be used anywhere else until further research is carried out.

1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Influence: a marked effect or impact

Empowerment: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.

Development: the process of developing or being developed.

Processes: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

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