GENDER INEQUALITY AND RURAL POVERTY IN NIGERIA
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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The issue of gender and gender relations has become a serious issue in contemporary times. Gender, according to Oakley cited in Ugwulebo and Anele(2001), refers to the culturally specific pattern of behavior either actual or normative, which may be attached to sexes. When speaking of gender, we are distinguishing between masculine and feminine. In recent years, there is the realization that various shades of gender bias have generated varied reactions worldwide. This bias is manifested in inequalities among the sexes both in cities and rural areas but more pronounced in the latter.
It has also become obvious that women in ancient and contemporary Nigeria, especially in rural societies, have been and are still being regarded as inferior to men. Their subjugation originated from biological and psychological makeup myths, folklores, cultures, laws, tradition and religion. This has increased public discourses and often generated heated controversy. This issues has raised the questions centering on the proper roles, rights and responsibilities of women in Nigeria and behaviors of women and men and it’s vital in facilitating gender analysis. The different roles, resources that both the gender having society are important determinants of the nature and scope of the inequality and poverty.
Inequality in access to resources between women and men is most common in poor and developing countries. Gender inequality refers to inequality in conditions among women and men for realizing their full rights. Men and women are conceptually into two separate worlds. The household resources are allocated in the favour of sons due their productive role. Male members of the family are given better education and are equipped with skills to compete for resources in public areas; while female members are being deprived of the rights. Rural women especially in Ahiazu Mbaise local government area have limited access to land, credit, information and technologies and they face difficulties in terms of mobility and political participation.
Rural poverty, here, refers to the poverty found in rural areas including factors of rural society, rural economy and rural political systems that give rise to poverty found there. Ahiazu Mbaise local government area is seen as a patriarchal society where women suffer all sorts of discrimination, resulting in low social, economic and political status in the society. According to Ugwuebo and Anele (2001), most of the discrimination against women in Africa especially Nigeria are economically remediated, socially propagated and oiled and culturally sanctioned. The problem with Africa culture is that it is relatively rigid and does not provide good room for change. In the view of Ugwulebo (1996), “the igbos has established bulwarks against any attempt to tinker with their culture and have also devised mechanisms which reinforce and ensure that individuals conform to collective norms and values of their society.” Any person or group of persons who wants to alter the boundary of any existing African tradition and custom must sweat to actualize these. This is where the problem lies. Women have to work extra hard to ensure the boundaries of some anachronistic traditions and customs are transcended and if possible made to assume now integers in line with contemporary events.
The position of women in society in relation to men and the subordinate, oppression and marginalization of women has attracted the attention of scholars, activist, feminist and development workers for a very long time. The issue relating to what is also known as gender inequality has become very prominent in the last few decades. This paper examines gender inequality and rural poverty, dimensions of gender inequality and discrimination that excludes women from governance and politics which is detrimental to national cohesion, progress and development and attempts to address the issues and rights of women in the 21st century and beyond. It also discusses options and constraints of gender sensitive interventions for income generation and poverty alleviation in rural areas.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It has long been noted that gender inequality exist and the extent of rural poverty is appreciatively high for instance, women in Nigeria are generally expected to be less capable than me especially as regards to situations involving task performance. Women around the world are dynamic leaders and powerful advocates of change, but space for their leadership and broader social and political participation remains constrained. Women in the rural sector are disproportionately employed in low-quality jobs including jobs in which their rights are not adequately respected and social protection is limited. Women tend to get less paid than men (around 25 percent less, to be more precise) that doesn’t mean that they work less, on the contrary, the problem is that much of the work they do is not valued and remunerated accordingly. In fact, most rural women are unpaid family members. This not only lowers their labour income but also it’s likely to increase stress and fatigue.
The commonly held view is that a woman’s obligation to work in the home is cooking, cleaning and looking after the children, elderly and the sick. Another is the belief that the woman have to obtain their husbands and guardians permission to leave the house. Sometimes, legal restrictions do not allow women to have any property or inheritance rights. These practices are extremely difficult to eradicate and are detrimental to women’s capacity to develop as productive members of the society.
In Nigeria especially Ahiazu Mbaise, it is expected that a woman is not meant to go to school due to the ideology they have that after spending money training a woman she will end up in the kitchen. Most of the families prefer sending their male counterparts to school forgetting that ‘if you train a man, you train an individual but when you train a woman, you train a nation.’
The issue of gender inequality and rural poverty has been a global issue. Evidence in our contemporary traditional society especially in Ahiazu Mbaise is the marginalization of widows by subjecting them to undue distress like barbing their hair and also forcing them to drink the water used in washing the corpse of their husband; meanwhile their male counterparts don’t undergo such trauma.
Curtin(1982) states that if a cumulative look at the aggregate data of women in politics and their extent of participation in community affairs is taken, the empirical fact emerging provides information on the extent to which they engage themselves in official and unofficial policy making in this regards, that number is undoubted less than those of their male counterparts.
1.3 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following hypothesis will guide this work;
There is a positive relationship between denial of property right and poverty.
There is a positive relationship between illiteracy and rural poverty.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will be used as guide to the study;
What could be responsible for gender inequality?
Can gender inequality be explained outside rural poverty?
How can illiteracy contribute towards rural poverty?
How can property rights be determined in Ahiazu Mbaise?
How can the rules of inheritance contribute to rural poverty?
How can educational level contribute towards poverty
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this work is to look at the relationship between gender inequality and rural poverty;
The specific objectives are;
How the rules of inheritance contributes to rural poverty.
To ascertain the origin of gender inequality.
To look at how educational levels can contribute towards poverty.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
For clarity of understanding, the significance of the study will be divided into two;
The research study will add to the already existing journals and text on this subject and it will serve as a platform for which further researchers could be carried out. In this research, lecturers and student will find a veritable source which will help in expanding their repertoire of knowledge concerning the issues of gender inequality and rural poverty in the society.
Therefore, this research study will serve as a reference material for researchers who are studying the same or related issues.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this research study will assist the government, parents, social workers, policy makers, corporate bodies like NGO’S and significant others to take informal decisions concerning how to cub the incidence and prevalence of gender inequality and rural poverty in the society.
The research study will study will also enable the government to formulate effective and lasting policies that will help to eradicate all forms of discrimination targeted in the women folks and poverty in rural areas in the society.
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