WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The discriminatory practice in education which favored the male over the female was very unprogressive yet the government could not do anything to either stop or reverse it (Kema, 2003). The colonial government laid a very bad foundation for education generally and women‟s education in particular. It is on record that in Nigeria, the colonial government initially did not show any interest in educational development at all. The early efforts were made by the Christian missionaries who came to evangelize to the people.
In 1986, the federal ministry of education in Nigeria created a special unit, women‟s education unit. This showed that the government was beginning to respond to the urgent need for the development of women. This special right accorded to women in education suggests that apart from women benefitting from general education, there will be a measure of encouragement to them towards specialization in sciences, engineering, and technology. Another area were the federal government of Nigeria intensified effort to develop women‟s education was in the establishment of mass literacy commission. The effort of government has been complimented by the non-governmental organizations, who in several ways,
especially through the offer of scholarships, and grants to secondary and higher institution female students have greatly promoted women‟s education.
Women empowerment is dated back to 1970‟s and the beginning of the international women movement. Many women organizations worldwide set up credit and saving components as a way of both enabling women to increase their incomes, and coming together to address wider gender issues. The micro-credit summit programme is not only out to reach women but also to empower them.
Women empowerment is not a modern concept. Women all over the world including countries in the south have been challenging and changing many gender inequalities since the beginning of history. These struggles have not been supported by many men who have not been outraged at injustice against women.
Man is by nature an independent social being and cannot develop, actualize and objectify himself through labor in isolation from others and from the social environment (Mbah, 2005). Men have to interact with others to live well and to achieve more meaningful sustainable socio-economic development. The relationship between men and women has for a long time been marked by the sub-ordination of one group to the whimps and caprices of another. Women‟s position being relegated to the background and placed in a dependency position makes it
almost difficult if not impossible for them to take their own decision on issues and problems to affect them more especially on reproductive health.
Onu (1998) opined that “women are at the heart of development. They control most of the non-money economy (subsistence agriculture, bearing and raising children, doing domestic labor) and taking important part in the money economy (trading, the formal sector, wage employment)”. He further stressed that every where world, women have two jobs, around the home and outside it. This assertion implies that women have a lot in of contribution to make towards the healthy socio-economic development of every county but women are constantly denied this opportunity by the nature of our societal organizations, and the cultural set up that makes it more comfortable for men to maintain the status quo. Today, awareness has led to the recognition of the important role women can play in national development and this calls for an urgent need to address these critical areas that have hindered full recognition of women‟s talents, women‟s right, women‟s development and empowerment.
CEDPA (1997:8) argued that there exist countries barriers that hinder women‟s efforts to improve the qualities of their lives. Compared to men, women have less access to crucial resources such as information, education, skill training, health (especially reproductive health and family planning), cash income and
credit, all of which are necessary for survival within the current economic depression.