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NATIONAL GENDER POLICY AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF KADUNA STATE

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 Mar 12, 2019 |  09:27 pm |  28
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study
Across the world especially in developing countries, there have been growing and continuous agitations for a level playing ground for both women and men in the political, economic and social dimensions of a nation‘s development resulting from age long domination and marginalisation of the female gender by the male. Gender discrimination is a pervasive global phenomenon which has occasioned intense gender inequality in many countries of the world. The phenomenon is as old as mankind itself. Studies (Abegunde, 2014; Ejumudo, 2013; Allanana, 2013; and Abara, 2012) have shown that gender inequality has created wide gender gaps in many countries of the world with very devastating social, economic and health consequences on especially the female gender that have been intensely marginalised and relegated to the background. This discrimination according to Sylvia and Ogugua (2012), has not only bred feminised poverty and its attendant consequences but has in recent times intensify the feminisation of HIV epidemics, as there is now linkage between gender discrimination and high susceptibility of women to HIV/AIDS pandemics. About 70% of women, who constitute half of the world‘s population live in poverty due to lack of access to opportunities and control over resources (UNDP, 1995).

The gender situation in Nigeria is not any way better than the rest of the world. In fact, it is even worse. Reports have established that gender discrimination is higher in developing countries of which Nigeria is one (World Economic Forum, (2013); British Council, (2012); and WACOL, (2008). Tradition, culture and religion have been identified as the major factors that are responsible for the high level of gender discrimination in Nigeria. The Nigerian society is patriarchal in nature. This has perpetuated the domination of women by men, thus bringing about the socialisation of women into a culture of female subordination.

According toShehu, et al (2011), gender inequality permeates all aspects of Nigerian life. It manifests in the family institution, educational sector, labour market, politics and social service institutions. A close examination of the gender situation in Nigeria reveals a lot of discrimination. In the family institution, the male child is usually preferred to the female child. The male child in most cases is accorded the right of inheritance to the family wealth and estate. This could lead to lack of access to and control over productive resources by the female gender. In the education sector, evidence from studies shows inequality between women and men. Literacy rate for adult men is 74.6% while for adult women, it is 56.8% and secondary school completion rate for girls is 44% while that of boys is 75% (CEDAW Shadow report, 2008).In the political arena, evidence also abound in researches that women are grossly under represented compare to men. Participation of women in politics is put at 15% (BC Gender Report, 2012:58). Socially, women have also been at the receiving end of several cultural and religious practices including gender based violence such as domestic violence and rape; female genital mutilation which is more common in the southern part of the country; despicable widowhood practices especially in the eastern part; purdah (seclusion of women from public observation), mostly in the northern, etc. As stated bySylvia and Ogugua (2012), the worrisome aspect of this discrimination is that it has persisted for so long that it is now deeply rooted and institutionalised in Nigerian system that uprooting same would definitely pose an uphill task.

As a result of this age long marginalisation of the female gender, women empowerment and gender equality have continued to be a dominant theme in global and regional treaties, covenants and declarations. Promotion of gender equality is now globally accepted as a development strategy for the reduction of poverty levels among women and men, improving health and living standards and enhancing efficiency of public investments (National Gender Policy, 2006). According to the United Nations Millennium Declaration in year 2000, the attainment of gender equality is not only an end in itself and a human right issue, but a prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development.

In her efforts to bridge gender gaps, Nigeria has signed and ratified several intercontinental and continental treaties and declarations which seek to remedy the age long gender disparity that has existed in human society. The treaties and declarations that Nigeria is signatory to include the Beijing Platform for Action, 1995 (BPA); African Charter on

Human and People‘s Rights, 1981 and its Women‘s Right Protocol of 2003; Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979 (CEDAW); and Millennium Development Goals, 2000 (MDGs). Nigeria‘s signatory to these international treaties and declarations has led her to roll out several policies culminating into programs and projects aimed at addressing the gender disequilibrium in the country. Some of these programs and projects include Better Life for Rural Women (1986), Family Support Program (1998) and Child Care Trust (1999). The failure of these programs to address the woman‘s question in national development led to evolution of a national policy suitable to the peculiarity of the gender situation in Nigeria. Thus, in 2000, the National Policy on Women was evolved. Having operated the policy for several years, little was achieved as its strategies were focused on women alone. It became clear that women focused strategies alone could only slow down the pace of achieving gender equality in the facet of development. An over aching strategy for gender equality in development process is likely to be that which takes women and men as partners in development, and more importantly, that which challenges the structure which continues to produce gender-based inequalities in the society, and balance power relations between women and men for growth and development at both micro and macro  level  (National  Gender  Policy,  2006).  Thus,  the  National  Gender  Policy  was formulated and adopted in 2006. The policy‘s main goal is to: build a just society devoid of discrimination, harness the full potentials of all social groups regardless of sex or circumstance, promote the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and protect the health, social, economic and political well-being of all citizens in order to achieve equitable rapid economic growth; evolve an evidence based planning and governance system where human, social, financial and technological resources are efficiently and effectively deployed for sustainable development .

The National Gender Policy has Policy, Partnerships and Programme Reforms; Capacity Building and Skill Development;Legislation and Human Rights Protection; Information, Communication and Value Re-orientation; Economic Reforms and Financial Accountability; Research, Data and Evidenced Based Planning; and Monitoring and Evaluation as its priority and key strategies (National Gender Policy, 2006).

This research is therefore concerned with assessing the implementation National Gender Policy and its impact on women empowermentin Kaduna state with a particular focus on the skills  acquisition programs emanating  from  the  capacity  building  and  skill  development component of the policy. Despite the policy‘s recognition of the necessity for a partnership between women and men in the development process, it nevertheless acknowledges that women  empowerment  remains  critical  to  the  attainment  of  gender  equality.  The  policy therefore puts premium on women empowerment policies and programs. As a result, the study  focuses  on  skills  acquisition  programs  being  implemented  by  the  Kaduna  State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in line with the National Gender Policy aimed at empowering women in the state.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite several efforts of the government at integrating the woman‘s question into the development agenda, gender inequality has remained pervasive in Nigeria. Almost on all fronts, politically, economically and socially, women have remained in perpetual subjugation to men. Existing data show that there is a persisting wide gap in income generating and employment opportunities between women and men in virtually all sectors of the Nigerian society (FG, 2012). Women‘s involvement in the industrial sector is estimated at 11% compare with 30% for men, while women‘s participation in income generating activities that are predominantly characterised by intense manual labour such as mining and quarrying is virtually non-existent (NBS 2004:39). 76%of workforce of the federal civil service are men, while women constitute 24%. Besides, women participation in the formal sector stands at just 11% (CIDA 2012:27). Consequently over 60% of the 70% of the population living below poverty line are estimated to be women, especially as the income and purchasing power for women is estimated to be US$614 as against US$1,495 for men who have access to high-paying, secure and stable employment (CIDA 2012:17). These have negatively affected the economic status of women, at the household, community as well as national level. As a result of the poor economic status of women especially in terms of finance and other economic resources, they lack decision making power especially at the household. Major household decisions such as purchases, children‘s education and family health are solely taking by men. In addition, women possess little or no control over their reproductive health and also lack means to access medical services as at when needed.

In Nigeria, especially in the Northern parts of which Kaduna State falls into, women‘s participation in public spheres is limited. Women are disallowed from taking part in certain public activities on the ground of culture/tradition and religion. Their movement is also very restricted. The practice of purdah‘ (Akule), mostly in the northern parts prohibits women‘s unrestricted movement outside the home. In the words ofAbegunde (2014), public forms of physical labour is associated with considerable shame and insecurity for women. Women‘s participation in politics is just about 15% (BC Gender Report, 2012:58). Women political representation in the upper and lower house of the legislature fell from 7% in 2007 to 4% in 2011 election. Only 7 of 109 senators and 25 of 360 representatives are women (BC Gender Report, 2012). On the social front, women encounter various degree of discrimination such as gender-based violence, poor access to education and health services, harmful widowhood practices, female genital mutilation, etc. According to the gender report of 2012, Nigeria occupies a low position in gender disparity (i.e. 118 out of 192 countries).

However, in recognition of such existing disparities and inequalities between women and men in virtually all sectors and the need to bridge the gap, the National Gender Policy was formulated and adopted. The Policy is in line with global policies, conventions and treaties such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), AU Solemn Declaration for Gender Equality, African Protocol on People‘s Rights and the Rights of Women (APPRRW), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), NEEDS/SEEDS, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA). All of which focus on certain critical aspects of women‘s concern ranging from health, violence against women, access to education, women‘s rights as human rights to improved economic and political participation as well as empowerment. The main thrust of the policy is to promote a gender sensitive and responsive culture in policy and law making that will ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men in all spheres as well as capacity building and economic reform(National Gender Policy, 2006).

The attainment of the goals and objectives of the policy requires the participation of several institutions and stakeholders such as Federal Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development and its state counterparts as the primary institution saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the policy, National Council for Women Development, National Orientation Agency, International Development Partners, Federal Character Commission, Non-Governmental Organisations, etc. But the main issue remains that, to what extent have the skills acquisition programs being implemented by the Kaduna State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (KMWASD) in line with the capacity building and skills development component of the NGP empowered women in the state.

1.3 Research Questions

In order to address the problem raised above, answers to the following research questions are found worthy:

To what extent has the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD improved women‘s financial status in the state?

To what extent has the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD enhanced women‘s participation in household decision making in the state?

To what extent has the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD enhanced women‘s acquisition and ownership of property in the state?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The central objective of this research is to determine the impact of the implementation of the Capacity Building and Skills Development component of the NGP on women empowerment in the state. In achieving this, the following specific objectives will be borne in mind:

To determine the extent to which the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has improved women‘s financial status in the state.

To determine the extent to which the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has enhanced women‘s participation in household decision making in the state.

To determine the extent to which the implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has enhanced women‘s acquisition and ownership of property in the state.

1.5 Research Hypothesis

H0: Implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has not significantly improved women‘s financial status in the state.

H0: Implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has not significantly enhanced women‘s participation in household decision making in the state.

H0: Implementation of Skills Acquisition Programs of the capacity building and skill development component of the National Gender Policy by KMWASD has not significantly enhanced women‘s acquisition and ownership of property in the state

1.6 Significance of the Study

Women empowerment and gender equality have assumed a front burner in recent global, regional and national development discourse. It is now globally accepted as a people-centred development strategy that focus on improving standard of living by giving women and men equal voices and opportunities. Women and girls constitute a whopping 80.2 million of the country‘s approximately 170 million population (National Population Census, 2006).

Nigeria‘s progress and national development will therefore be constrained if women continue to be marginalised and relegated to the background. Consequently, the importance of this study cannot be over emphasized as the research seeks to determine the extent to which theskills acquisition programs being implemented by KMWASD in line with the Capacity Building and Skills Development component of the National Gender Policy have empowered women to promote gender equality, identify factors militating against the effective implementation of the policy and suggest ways possible for improvement. The National Gender Policy as a living document needs findings from researches of this nature which can be incorporated into the policy to make it successful by effectively promoting gender equality and empowering women and not going down the way of previous policies.

Most empirical studies on women empowerment and gender equalityreviewed dwelt on micro-credit scheme (Awojobi, 2014; Nwakeze&Ogunniyi, 2012 andOkoji, 2013), except for the study of Comfort et al(2013) and Gift(2013) which focused on skills acquisition programs. The study of Comfort et al (2013) was more concerned with establishing women‘s preferences for skills acquisition programs instead of examining its empowerment effects on the women while the study of Gift (2013) which focused on empowerment effects of skills acquisition programs on women made use of only primary data.

This study on ―Implementation of the Capacity Building and Skills Development componentof the National Gender Policy and its impact on Women Empowerment‖ represents an attempt to bridge the gap identified in the studies reviewed by majorly seeking to examine the extent to which skills acquisition programs empower women.The study complemented data generated through the administration of questionnaires and conduct if interviews (primary source) with reports and official documents (secondary source). Therefore, the focus of this study as well asthe data generation instruments employed represent the major point of departure of this study from previous studies and its contribution to knowledge.

The findings of the research will also be of immense significance to development agencies, non-governmental organisations and movements promoting women emancipation and empowerment in Kaduna State and Nigeria in general. Besides, the study would serve as a reference material for future research.

1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The National Gender Policy was formulated in 2006, though the research will cover the period between 2010 and 2014. The reason for this is that, it was not until 2008 that a strategic framework was finally prepared for the implementation of the policy. It is therefore believed that five years (2010 – 2014) of implementing the policy is enough to start yielding results.The policy is broad and has several strategies and components. They are:

Policy, Partnerships and Programme Reforms;

CapacityBuilding and Skill Development;

Legislation and Human Rights Protection;

Information, Communication and Value Re-orientation;

Economic Reforms and Financial Accountability;

Research, Data and Evidenced Based Planning; and

(g) Monitoring and Evaluation (National Gender Policy, 2006)

In order to do some level of justice to the study, the work focuses on the capacity building and skill development strategy of the policy as it regards women empowerment. This aspect of the policy thrust seeks to equip vulnerable and erstwhile marginalised groups particularly women through skills development initiative, adult education programs, micro-credit schemes, loans, grants, access to economic resources, etc. The National Gender Policy sees women empowerment as an entry point to gender equality, thus puts premium on women empowerment programs.

Consequently, the study seeks to assess the extent to which the implementation of empowerment programs by KMWASD in line with the capacity building and skills development component of the policy has empowered women in the state. The programs majorly include vocational skills acquisition such as sewing, knitting, hair dressing, milling and grinding, tie and die, cosmetology, bead making, etc. Kaduna is a state where gender discrimination is highly perpetuated on cultural and religious ground, especially in the northern part of the state(BC Gender Report, 2012). The research covers three local government areas in the state: one each, from the three senatorial districts in the state.

The major problems encountered by the study include financial and time constraints, accessibility to official documents and reports, accessibility to beneficiaries who mostly reside in the rural areas and communication challenges as majority of the beneficiaries have no formal education. In a bid to overcome the challenges of communication and accessibility of the beneficiaries, the researcher was able to get in touch with women leaders in the selected LGAs who invited the women for a meeting. While research assistants were engaged to bridge the communication gap. On the aspect of obtaining official documents, the research had to repeatedly visit the ministry before considerable information were obtained.

1.8 Definition of Relevant Terms

(a) Gender: the term genderis used to describe a set of qualities and behaviours expected from men and women by their societies. These expectations stem from the idea that certain qualities, behaviour, characteristics, needs and roles are natural for men or women (UNDP

Nigeria, 2013:1). To Fabusoro (2012), it refers to women‘s and men‘s role that are defined by the society and which vary widely among societies and cultures.

As one of the most relevant terms for this study, gender constitutes roles, responsibilities and behaviours expected from women and men by a society which stem from the people‘s belief system and these varies among societies and cultures.

Gender discrimination:gender discrimination refers to the unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their sexes, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources (Reeve and Baden, 2000). Article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW), defines gender discrimination as any distinction,exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of man and woman, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

For the purpose of this research, gender discrimination entails the bias treatment of individuals based on their sexes which result in the deprivation of rights, opportunities as well as access to and control over resources.

Gender equality: according to Reeves and Baden (2000), gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere. It means that women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunities for realising their full human rights and potential to contribute to national, political, economic, social, and cultural development, and to benefit from the results (Canada-Ukraine Gender Fund, 2004). Gender equality interventions are therefore aimed at promoting full and unfettered participation of women and men in national development.

As a relevant term to this research, gender equality involves women having equal rights as men to opportunities (e.g. education, employment and basic health services), access to and control over productive resources (e.g. credit and property) as well as participation in decision making (politics).

Women empowerment: empowerment involves the process of gaining access and

developing one‘s capacities with a view to participating actively in shaping one‘s own life and that of one‘s community in economic, social and political terms. (Austrian Development
Agency, 2006:7). To Kabeer (1999), it refers to the process by which those who have been denied the ability to make strategic life choices acquire such ability. Strategic life choices involve choices such as choice of livelihood, whether and who to marry, whether and how many children to have, etc.

As one of the most relevant terms to this study, women empowerment will involvethe expansion of women‘s ability to make strategic life choices through creation of opportunities or access to education, skills acquisition, employment and productive resources (e.g. credit, land) in order to live a desired life as can be seen in the following aspects:

contribution to family upkeep,

involvement in major household decisions,

access to health services and control over reproductive health,

freedom of movement,

participation in labour/market,

property ownership e.g. land

participation in public spheres e.g. attending social gathering, club/social associations and political activities.

Policy: policy, according to Roberts and Edwards (1999) cited in Olaniyi (2001:14) refers to a set of decisions taken by a political actor or group concerning the selection of goals and method of attaining them, relating to a specific situation. It is a course of action adopted and pursued by a government in order to achieve certain set goals.

As another most relevant term to this research, policy will involve the course of action or strategies aimed at capacity building and skills development as contained in the strategic framework for the implementation of the National Gender Policy designed to empower women and promote gender equality. They include vocational skill training such as:

Sewing and Knitting;

Milling and Grinding; (iii)Tie and Die;

Cosmetology;

Fish Processing;

Bead Making;

Hair Dressing; and

Catering

1.9 Structural Organisation of the Study

The entire research work is divided into six chapters as follows:

Chapter one contains general introduction of the work, which includes a background to the study, statement of the problem, research questions, hypotheses, objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, structural organisation of the study and lastly but not the least, the definition of relevant terms. Chapter two captures review of related literature and theoretical framework to aid understanding of the problem. Gender, gender equality, women empowerment and causes of gender inequality as well as previous efforts by government aimed at promoting gender parity were the focus of the review. Literatures were reviewed from text books, journals, documents, etc.

Chapter three discusses the research methodology employed in the generation of data and test of hypotheses. As a survey study, it employs a stratified random sampling technique in the administration of questionnaires followed by a structured interview in order to generate relevant data for hypotheses testing. Tables and simple percentages are used for data presentation while chi-square is employed to test the hypotheses formulated for the study. Chapter four captures the National Gender Policy in detail. It discusses the goals, objectives and targets of the policy, the strategic framework prepared for effective implementation of the policy as well as the institutional mechanisms saddled with the responsibility of implementing the policy. The chapter also captures the Kaduna State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, its powers, structure and functions. It as well discusses activities, achievements and challenges of the ministry in respect of the implementation of the capacity building and skills development component of the National Gender Policy.

Chapter five discusses the presentation and analysis of data generated from primary sources as well as the test of hypotheses and chapter six concludes the study. It consists of a brief summary of the work and findings as well as suggestions for improvement.

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