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