ROLE OF WOMEN IN RURAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. A STUDY OF OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA EBONYI STATE.
- Background of the study
Rural women are key agents for development. They play a catalytic role towards achievement of transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. Yet history is repeated with accounts of women struggling to emancipate themselves from socio-economic and political constraints. These struggles have cut across race, religion, or era. In all, the gux of the matter is that women have reacted to their subordinate role and status which has always been pess favourable relative to those of men (Alkali, 2004:42). Ironically, while women have persistently struggled to shake-off the shackles of oppression, men, have continued to put in place, structures, designed to perpetuate their privileged status to the disadvantage and marginalization of the female gender keeping them from fully participation in the mainstream society.
In the third world countries, women have been subjected to cultural inferiority, educational backwardness, economic deprivation as well as religious discrimination. And in reaction, to this state of affairs, women from this part of the world have engaged in actions geared towards contributing towards the development of their immediate communities and their countries generally (Agwo, 1999).
Of utmost significance is the declaration of 1975-85 by the United Nations as the decade for women. This declaration brings more light on the giant strides made by women especially in the west. The recognition of crucial roles of women like Golda Meer and Margaret Thatcher as Statespersons and leaders as well as women in strategic corporate positions provided strong inspiration to African women in general and the Nigerian women to be conscious of the need to fight for their social, cultural, political and very importantly economic emancipation.
Aside the operations of certain women organizations in Nigeria in quest of the advancement of the cause of womanhood like e.g. NCWS (National Council of Women Society), the CWO (Catholic Women Organization) to mention just a few, the launching in September 1987 of the Better Life for Rural Women Programme by the then first lady Mrs. Maryam Babangida gave a big boost to women in development. This programme with its rural emphasis, served to drive the struggle for women empowerment to the grassroots women.
The programme played a crucial role by leading to increased government and public awareness of the developmental potentials of women. It led to the formation of many rural women’s co-operative societies and with government support, financially and otherwise-helped to enhance the economic standing of rural women, through their establishment of college industries, primary health care institutions and water boreholes etc.
To further consolidate the gains of the Better Life Programme, the Maryann Abacha founded Family Support Programme (FSP) came on board on July 20, 1994 with emphasis on the strategically enhancing the position of women in the family to impact positively on the child development.
In recent times, the government has created the Women Commission via Decree 42 of 1992 and as well have created a separate Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in 1995.
Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has not been insulated from this wind of change as it affects the socio-economic standing and role of women. Thus, this work seeks to discover the role women have played and have been playing in rural community development in Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
- Statement of the problem
Women in recent times seem to have shared-up the level of their contribution and participation in domestic and social development. They have witnessed increased visibility in political cum public life, relative to the situation in the recent past. Again, UN women supports the leadership and participation of rural women in shaping laws, policies and programmes on all issues that affect their lives including improved food and nutrition security, and better rural livelihoods. Women play a key role in food production and form a large proportion of agricultural work force globally. In spite of all these, the effort of women are hardly recognized in discussion about rural development.
As a result, this research is geared towards finding out what factors have motivated women into involving themselves in development in Ohaukwu Local Government Area. It also concern itself with identifying what aspects of rural community development that women contribute to. Another problem to be thrashed is resolving if pooling of resources together by women is a necessity for rural community development. It would also seek answers as to the collection of women’s contribution to rural community development to their level of education.
On a final note, the research will try to resolve the issue bothering on the relationship between women’s economic improvement and their contribution to rural community development.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will guide this work.
- What factors motivate women to contribute to the rural development of Ohaukwu Local Government?
- What aspects of rural community development are the women in Ohaukwu Local Government Area mostly involved?
- To what extent do women associations/organizations contribute to the community development in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
- What is the level of contribution of women to rural community development of Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
- How can women be further encouraged to participate in rural development?
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
- To determine the factors that motivate women to contribute to rural development of Ohaukwu Local Government.
- To find out the aspects of rural community development that women in the study area are mostly involved in.
- To establish the extent to which women associations contribute to community development of the study area.
- To identify the level of contributions of women to rural community development of Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
- To find out how women can be further encouraged to participate in rural development.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
History is replete with documented accounts of contributions from the women folk both in pre-colonial and colonial times. From available historical records, pre-colonial Nigeria witnessed more of women- than men-playing key roles in the nation’s socio-political and economic life than what is obtains in present day Nigeria. More than, a passive and supportive role, women then played creative and dynamic role.
The pre-colonial era paraded an array of vocal political, religions and diligent female leaders and teachers than we can boast of today. As caring mothers and wives, they made profound impact on their societies without jeopardizing the unity, peace and stability of the family, which is the nuclei of any nation. However, it is significant to note that these contributions of the womenfolk were possible given a conducure and favourable cultural nature which favoured these developments in each respective culture, which recognized and appreciated the potentials of the women.
Thus, it is expected that the findings of this work will help to:
- Discover the degree of participation of women in rural community development.
- Make available data to assist in future research work in this (or related) field, and in the area or elsewhere in Nigeria.
- Create the awareness of the immense input of women to development in the midst of gender inequality and discrimination.
- OPERATIONALIZATION OF TERMS
PROJECT: This refers to any programme or part of a programme for investing resource and which can be reasonably analyzed, and evaluated as an independent unit.
RURAL: This is a geographical area with low population density and small settlement. It is usually outside the city or town.
COMMUNITY: This basically refers to a social group occupying a geographically defined area and sharing a feeling oneness.
DEVELOPMENT: This is the process of general improvement in the quality of life of people accompanied with a decrease in the level of income distribution inequality as well as the capacity to sustain continuous improvement over time.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: This is a movement to enhance the voluntary participation of people in efforts geared towards improving economic, social and physical conditions in communities in a bid to uplift the standard of living with as much reliance as possible on the people’s initiatives.
BETTER LIFE PROGRAMME: Refers to a programme initiated by Mrs. Maryam Babangida geared towards improving the quality of life of rural women.
FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAMME (FSP): Refers to a programme initiated by (Dr.) Mrs. Maryam Abacha in July 1994 to improve the lot of women as a way of improving the living conditions of women.
ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT: This refers to the opportunities available to people (women) to acquire economic resources without impediments.
WOMEN: This denotes people whose key responsibilities include child birth, washing, cooking and childcare.
WOMEN ORGANIZATION: This denotes association of women who assist in the promotion of community development programmes.