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THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY OF ABRIBA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ABIA STATE IN NIGERIA

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Rural Women: Key to New India's Agrarian Revolution | NITI Aayog

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Background of Study

The most comprehensive perception of development is one that conceives a multi-dimensional process involving changes in structures, altitudes and institutions, as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and eradication of absolute poverty. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (2000) a precursor of such change capable of fostering development is the ability of policy makers to induce desirable changes in the economic structure of any nation. Such polices must induce a wide range of changes in the entire social system, tuned to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups within the system. Also, it should move away from a condition of life that is widely perceived as sub-standard as experienced in the rural areas and towards condition of life regarded as materially and spiritually better1.

Rural development, is a process of  not only increasing the level of per capita income in the rural areas but also of the standard of living of the rural population, where the standard of living depends on such factors as food,  nutrition level, health, education, housing, recreation and security2. On the other hand, rural development is seen in terms of the condition and percentage of the labor force in the agricultural sector, although it is argued that a program of rural development should go beyond agriculture to include the country’s total economic development in rural areas because about 70 percent of Nigeria’s labor force is employed in the agricultural sector, which is characterized by a predominance of small-scale production using mostly local inputs3.

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Globally, women’s influence and contribution in the developmental process  has become very significant to the extent of drawing the attention of most authorities to a point of consideration and need to create equal opportunities between women and their male counterpart. Nigerian women has a recognized place in society which makes it possible for gifted ones among them to rise to positions of political, economic and social eminence from which they led and dominated not only their fellow  women but men as well. Some schools of thought believe that women all over the world have contributed immensely to the development of nations while other school of thought believe that women have contributed nothing rather than their domestic affairs such as family welfare, of which in the case of Nigeria women has contributed a lot towards to national development, hence this goes to show that the role of women in society cannot be over emphasized in the functions they perform both at the state and federal level4.

In the past women have been described as mothers of the nation, it is believed that many society hardly develop without women, generally, in Nigeria, there has been great apathy on the past of women and especially those from Abiriba community.

However, Nigeria women have involved themselves in developmental activities like politics economy and social  development since the independence. Notable women activist during pre-independence like late Mrs.  F. Ransome Kuti, and of recent chief Mrs. Bola Balatope, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, Late Mrs. Kudurat Abiola, Dr. Mrs. Jokumba. Dosuma, Chief Mrs. Bosede Oslin have distinguished themselves due to the roles they played in the emancipation of Nigeria women and the society at large5.

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The role of the rural women in the development of their society overtime has be a contending issue among people of various fields of study especially scholars of development. Therefore, this study examines the role of women in rural development  with particular attention on Abriba Local Government Area of Abia State in Nigeria as case study.

1.1 Statement of problem

Despite significant improvements since attainment of independence in Nigeria like many nations in the developing world, extreme poverty remains widespread. The Nigerian economy began to experience recession from the early 1980 and as a result, she moved from middle level income and a developing industrial nation to become one of the poorest nations in the world (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2002-2003). Specifically, the incidence of poverty has been high and upward swinging since 1980. Data from the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) on the poverty profile of Nigeria (1999) showed that the incidence of poverty rose from 28.1 percent in 1980 to 46.3 percent in 1985 but dropped slightly to 42.7 percent in 1992 before rising to 65.6 percent in 1996.

The rural areas in most parts of Nigeria exhibit great poverty, poor health condition and ignorance as a result of varying degree of geographical, social and political isolation. In Nigeria, more than 75% of the population live and work in rural areas though the emphasis of spatial planning has for a long time been on urban areas rather than regional problems whereby the rural areas would have benefited. This has led to the relegation of the rural areas to the background in the spatial economy of the country resulting in a wide spread of rural-urban migration of able women. This problem has been compounded by unattractive opportunities of generating income from agriculture.

Women rarely have access to the resources that would make their work more productive and ease their heavy workload. Ultimately, it is not just women who are held back, but also their families, their communities and local economies. Despite their many responsibilities, women have significantly less access to the resources and services they need to increase their productivity and their income and ease their burden of household duties. Women are held back by lack of education, unequal property rights and limited control over resources. It is on this backdrop that this research will examine the role of women in rural development with particular attention to Abriba Local Government Area of Abia State.

1.3 Aim and objectives of Study

           Having observed the various problem militating against women participation in the attainment of development in areas as policy making, implementation and involvement in the program and projects for development it is therefore needful to point it out here that we communities should make use of it’s human (non-power) resource available for the attainments of development.

The purpose for this study is aimed at encouraging women at the rural communities that they have to rise up to the challenge of emancipating themselves from the old views held about them in the society. the research work aimed at informing agents of government responsible for positive growth and development to give adequate support to women so that they can appreciate their roles and play it better than before.

To examine the involvement of Abiriba women in the development of the community starting from the pre-colonial period and extend to the contemporary time and to educate the men folks on the needs to accommodate the women properly in all issues relating to the society, although right from the creation of the world the women are regarded as helpmate.

1.3     Scope of the study

          This study is intended to address various issues as it affect the role women play in community development using Abiriba as a case in point. All these include position of women in the decision making process of the community, the examination of the level of women participation in political social  development in Abiriba in particular. The study will examine some of the obnoxious culture and tradition of the people that end anger or limit the economic contribution by women in community development.

1.4     Research methodology

          This research project made use of two (2) major source which are primary and secondary sources. The primary sources used for this study are oral interviews conducted within the area covered by the research.

The secondary sources were gotten from published works among which are: text books journals internet publication.

1.5     Literature review

          There is need for a review of the work and opinions of some scholars on the role of women in rural development. To this end a couple of review have been presented below;

According to C.B Nwahukwu in his book “Development and administration in New and emergent states”, he defines development as an integral process of indenting opportunities for individual social groups and territorially organized communities at small and intermediate scale and mobilizing the full rang of their capacities and resources for the common benefit in social, economic and political terms. He further argued that the specific type of development initiated by the politico-administrative elites is the most suitable one for all the other members of society and should therefore replace other existing notions of development.

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