AN EVALUATION OF EMPOWERMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION…

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AN EVALUATION OF EMPOWERMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES IN UMUAHIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1.1    Background Of The Study

Women have always been a marginalized minority. This is due to the fact that they do not possess the means of production. As a result, they fall short of their male counterparts. Women have always been on the receiving end of our cultural and religious practices, sex roles, and societal constructs, which have had a significant impact on them from their origin (Enemuo, 2001).

According to Eboh (2002), one gender is consistently discriminated against as a result of social structure dysfunctions to the extent that disparities in access to societal social services, resources, property, and wealth are formed, resulting in gender stratification. Gender inequality is ubiquitous, with women confronting income disparities and a lack of access to suitable jobs. Women and girls are frequently denied access to education and healthcare all across the world; they are under-represented in economic and political decision-making; and they face violence and discrimination. This influence emphasizes the fact that, in general, women have been left out of the process that will improve their journey toward self-actualization and economic empowerment. Where they are absent, poverty results, which creates barriers that prohibit most women from realizing their full potential, resulting in a violation of their fundamental rights.

Women’s empowerment has been a commonly mentioned objective of development intervention (Adams & Castle 1994). When Third World feminists first used the term “women’s empowerment” in the 1970s, it was clearly intended to frame and make for an easy understanding of the struggle for social justice and women’s equality through a transformation of economic, social, and political structures at the national and international levels (Cohen, 2002). The urge to empower women appears to be motivated by the reality that women have the capacity to contribute to progress but are hampered by obstacles that render them weak. While the causes of each woman’s helplessness (or power) are numerous and different, it may be worthwhile to analyze what women have in common in this regard. Enemuo (2001) observes that focusing on women’s empowerment as a group necessitates an examination of gender relations, or the manner in which power interactions between the sexes are established and maintained. In patriarchal societies such as Nigeria, men have the highest authority over household resources such as land and cash crops, as well as the labor of women and other household members. 

It is evident that women’s degree of education and economic circumstances frequently impact their amount of engagement in decision-making at the household, community, state, and national levels. Women have a disproportionate share of the burden of household upkeep and childcare obligations when compared to males.

In many civilizations, male dominance in sexual encounters, with its consequences for women’s lack of control over their libido, has denied women the right to choose the number of children they desire. When compared to males, they have less decision-making capacity (Eboh, 2002).

This necessitates an examination of women’s subordination and the development of a more satisfying set of arrangements than those already in place. These can be achieved 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 taking measures to combat male violence and control over women (Cohen, 2002). In other words, empowerment necessitates the modification of subordination structures through changes in the law, property rights, and other institutions that support and maintain male dominance (Correia, 2000). This might be accomplished through strengthening women’s educational, political, and economic position so that they can actively engage in development processes. The United Nations committed a decade to problems surrounding women and development, recognizing the necessity for women to govern their own lives and be part of their nations’ socioeconomic and political agendas.

Many methods have also been put in place in Nigeria to empower women politically, economically, and educationally. According to Okeke (1995), these measures include increasing women’s access to education, promoting full involvement in the cash economy, encouraging women to participate in politics, and updating legislation governing women’s rights.

In Nigeria, the 1999 constitution called for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. In July of 2000, the federal government enacted a national policy on women. This program called for affirmative action to enhance women’s representation in the legislative and executive branches of government by 35 percent. In addition, the Federal Government established the National Women’s Development Centre as a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. The Centre is largely in charge of doing research on women’s concerns (Correia, 2000).

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Women in Nigeria are doing their fair share to contribute to the nation’s progress, although their potential appears to have been underutilized owing to a variety of restrictions. Men and women continue to face disparities in education, work and income prospects, asset control, personal security, and involvement in the development process (Adams & Castle, 1994). This might be due to persistent restraints such as poor economic conditions for Nigerian women, a lack of proper legislation and policies to protect women’s rights, unequal access to education, restricted access to land, a lack of assertiveness among women, and so on. Education, affluence, and men’s perceptions of the importance of women’s engagement in development have all been identified as deciding variables in women’s participation in development processes. Women have been chronically underrepresented in political engagement. The most recent general election indicated a 6% representation of women in all levels of political office across the country. In Enugu State, no woman was chosen as the executive chairman of the state’s 17 local government areas, and just five women are members of the state house of assembly, which has 24 members. This is a significant underrepresentation of women, who account for almost half of the Nigerian population (Adams & Castle, 1994). Governments and political parties have not completely embraced affirmative action. Women continue to have a low level of schooling, though this is changing gradually.

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The primary aim of this topic is to evaluate of Empowerment and its Impact On Women’s Participation In Development Processes in Umuahia. Other aims of this study are:

i.          To determine the level of women’s participation in development process.

ii.        To identify the factors impeding women’s participation in development processes.

iii.      To identify the various ways women can be empowered participation in development processes.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions will guide this study;

i. To what extent do women’s participate in development process in Umuahia?

ii. What are the factors impeding women’s participation in development processes in Umuahia?

iii. What are the various ways women can be empowered participation in development processes.

1.5 Significance Of The Study

This research will contribute to the corpus of information about the levels of women’s empowerment at the local and communal levels. It will provide additional light on the current literature on the role of empowerment in women’s engagement in development processes, as well as the factors that restrict women’s empowerment and participation in development processes. It will be extremely beneficial to students and academics who wish to examine topics concerning women.

This study will also be beneficial to the government both at the federal and state level as the findings of this study will show how women can be empowered economically, socially and educationally.

1.6 Scope Of The Study

This study will focus on an evaluation of empowerment and its impact On women’s Participation In Development Processes in Umuahia. The study will further cover the level of women’s participation in development process, the factors impeding women’s participation in development processes, and the various ways women can be empowered participation in development processes. The respondents for this study will be obtained from the staff of Ministry of Women Affairs, Umuahia, Abia State.

1.7 Limitations Of The Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed. 

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

1.8 Definition Of Terms

Evaluation: the making of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.

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

Impact: a marked effect or influence

REFERENCES

Adams, A. & Castle, S. (1994). Gender relations and household dynamics. In G. Sen, A. Germain & L. C. Chen (Eds.), Population policies reconsidered: Health, empowerment, and rights (pp.161-173). Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

Ahmed, A. I. (1992). Mass literacy policy and delivery in Nigeria. Education Today: Journal of the Federal Ministry of Education and Youth Development, 5( 4), 12-21.

Cohen, R. (2002). The good, the bad, and the difference: How to tell right from wrong in everyday situation. New York: Doubleday.

Correia, A. (2000). Strategies to expand battered women’s economic opportunities: Building comprehensive solution to domestic violence. Hinesburg, PA: National Resources Centre on Domestic Violence

Coser, L. (1956). The functions of social conflict. New York: The Free Press

Dahrendorf, R. (1959). Class and class conflict in industrial society. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Eboh, M. P. (2002). “Philosophy, women and responsible leadership in Africa” Paper presented at the Conference of Philosophy and Responsible Leadership in Africa at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, 18th – 21st November.

Enemuo, F. C. (2001). Political participation and the economic empowerment of Nigerian women: Imperatives and prospects. In Obi C. I. (ed), Women’s political participation through economic empowerment. Lagos: O.V.C. Nigeria Limited.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999). The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Abuja: FGN


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