This research work is aimed atidentifying the economic activities of rural women and to examine the contributions they make to community development through their involvement in economic and developmental processes in Nigeria with study focus on Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. Descriptive survey was employed for the study, rural women in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State was the targeted population, Yamane approach was used to determine the sample size, stratified random sampling technique was used to select 400 rural women for the study, 80 rural women from each of the five zones in Etche LGA. A structured questionnaire and a focus group discussion (FGD) were the instrument for data collection, a simple percentage was used to answer the research questions while independent T-test and Chi-Square were used to analyse the hypothesis at 0.05 significant level. The research findings revealed that the economic activities/occupations of rural women in Etche LGA are: farming, trading, civil service and politics. Farming recorded the highest percentage 62.25% while politics recorded the least 6%, no woman in Etche LGA took fishing as occupation. There is significant difference on the economic activities/occupations of rural women towards sustainable socioeconomic development. Women use money earned from their various occupations to sustain and improve community socioeconomic development. Rural women contribute to community development through engaging in economic activities/infrastructures via employing laborers to work for them and pay them wages at the end of the day, they are also involved in community based-group which has built Mono pumps, market, school laboratory, school staff rooms, corpers’ lodge and hospital to enhance community development.There is also a significant difference on the educational level of rural women’s participation in community development programmes in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria.The study recommended that government as well as the non-governmental organization should provide basis for assisting and supporting rural women, through gender equality, encouraging women education, provisions of funds in forms of cash and machineries, removal of cultural and ethnic norms that hinder married women from participating in some socioeconomics activities in the area, removal of violence in politics, and provision of adequate public amenities.

Table of Content

Title page                                                                                                                                i

Approval Page                                                                                                                        ii

Table of content                                                                                                                      iii

Dedication                                                                                                                               iv

Acknowledgment                                                                                                                    v

Abstract                                                                                                                                   vi


1.1       Background of the Study                                                                                         1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                                                        5

1.3       Research Objectives                                                                                                6

1.4       Research Questions                                                                                                 6

1.5       Research Hypotheses                                                                                              7

1.6       Significance of the Study                                                                                        7

1.7       Scope of the Study                                                                                                  7

1.8       Definition of Terms                                                                                                  8


2.1       Introduction                                                                                                              9

2.2       Development and Gender Mainstreaming                                                            12

2.3       Nigeria’s Rural Development Practice and the Role of Women                       14

2.3 Impact of Nigeria’s Rural Development Plans on Women Participation                        16

2.4       The Challenges for Integrating Women in Rural Development Agenda          21


  • Introduction                                                                                                              28
    • Research Design                                                                                                       28
    • Population of the Study                                                                                           28
    • Sampling Technique of the Study                                                                          29
    • Sample of the Study                                                                                                 30
    • Instrument for Data Collection                                                                               30
    • Validation of Instrument                                                                                         30
    • Administration and Data Collection                                                                      31
    • Method of Data Analysis                                                                                        31


4.1       Introduction                                                                                                              32

4.2       Presentation and Analysis of Data                                                                         33

4.3       Discussion of Findings                                                                                            43

4.4       Summary of the Findings:                                                                                       49


5.1       Introduction                                                                                                              51

5.2       Summary                                                                                                                  51

5.3       Conclusion                                                                                                                53

5.4       Recommendations                                                                                                    54

5.6       Limitation of the study                                                                                            56

REFERENCES                                                                                                                      58

Appendices                                                                                                                           62



1.1 Background of the Study

In the present world of millennium developmental goals, socioeconomic community development can never be achieved without rural women’s effort. The economic contribution and role of rural women in every community is an indicator of the modernization of the national economy. The entire community development process should be more on the active participation of rural women economic activities. Women are less able than their counterpart in economic and developmental opportunities because they faced with much burden of household work that includes childbearing activities, domestic chores and also rearing of small livestock. The extra workload is unpaid and confines the capacity of women to participate and engage in economic activities. However, the nature of tasks required women to stay near the home, which limits their option to work for wage earn. Furthermore, scarcity of time makes many women set up cottage industries such as handcraft and creative art that are often characterized by low returns (Lanjouw&Lanjouw, 2001). Although norms differ in terms of culture and religion; as a result it is estimated that rural women spent 85-90% of their time in household food processing and preparation (Fontana & Natalia, 2008).  During the past, some policies, programs and project were designed and established to assist low- income women in the third world countries like Nigeria, which focused on the significant roles of rural women participation and contribution in economic and developmental process. Since 1950, interventions were made to change the level of economic and social progress of rural people particularly women’s roles as contributors to the community they live in (Moser, 1993). Those interventions serve as the anti-poverty approach or reduction of poverty wish to improve and advance rural women’s productivity because it views their poverty as a matter of under development. In Nigerian rural communities, women have direct contact with the natural environment and resource as they gather essential items for everyday needs. Therefore it is important to include women in both the planning process of different economic and developmental organization, so as to maintain the alarming rate of community development through involving all the members of the community in which almost half of them are women who previously being ignored. Community development recognizes the use of natural resources through developmental potentialities (Adams, 1995), and the natural resources are treated as factors of production, which need to be use and maintained just like labor and capital. The objective is to improve rural women’s welfare, and providing facilities, environment for their active contribution to economic and community developments. Therefore, the local language should be used as a mechanism for mobilizing rural women to their functional facilities and practice to the contribution they made to the community development through their participation in economic activities. Although government at national level has funded programs such program like Better Life for Rural Women (BLP) in 1987, Family Support Program (FSP) in 1989, and Family Economic Advancement Program (FEAP) in 1994. All these programs are to improve the condition, feature and well-being of family and rural women in general. But still the contributions of rural women in economic and community development is not actualized because of the neglect of women folk in the development process and it results in the waste of resource to the society. Traditionally women’s roles are confined to household chores, farming activities and other trade transaction that, in general, engage them for a longer hour than men (UNDP, 2004). Besides rural women have limited access to educational and employment opportunities. In Nigerian societies, rural women are culturally deprive to participate fully in economic activities due to religious, social norms, and belief that women are suborder to be at home for only domestic chores, whereby women are not allowed to go out for any business transaction. Azikiwe (2008) reveals that social norms, inadequate incentives, ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and cultural institution against women in most societies in Nigeria are barriers to the advancement of rural women. For instance, religion, culture, and education, are factors that leads to the little participation of rural women in economic activities in Kano state, Nigeria. This is because it comes with the seclusion that women are not allowed to go out for any business transactions, they remain at home to oversee the activities of the house. This practice is called purdah keeping women in the house; the fact here is that mixing between women with non-family members of the opposite sex is prohibition in Islam, so the aimed is creating a pure environment for preventing the negative consequences of such mixture. The acceptance and practice of purdah creates a social gap and reduce the economic contributions made by rural women in Kano state to the household and community development. It has become a standard assessment for men economic dominance and success over women, and it is believed that a man is adequately well-off sufficient, and able to meet his family and his wife’s need without their intervention (Coles & Mack, 1991).

Developing the rural areas has been at the core of national, regional and international governments and non-governmental interests the world over. Different countries have different approaches determined by some structural and cultural peculiarities. Most industrial and developed societies depend on the neoliberal approach in which rural development are attracted from the outside through the ‘trickle down’ processes brought about by increased production of capital in the rural areas (Blakely 1989, O Toole and Macgarvey 2003). Capital production, in this context, is attracted to the rural areas through tax concessions, development of critical infrastructures and other public spending activities. This market-based approach to rural development tends to focus more on the growth in the rural areas than real development (Wolman and Spitzley 1996). Consequently, matters of human capital improvements, social justice and environmental concerns are hardly at the core of the neoliberal development agenda at the rural areas. Such development trajectory rarely promotes inclusivity and participation for the rural people (Piore 1995). Rural development approach that fails to incorporate the participation of the rural people remains exploitative. The question of participatory and inclusive development at the rural level is more important especially for developing countries with low human and infrastructural capital and high level of gender discrimination. In the literature, for instance, the rural economies in developing and underdeveloped countries are characterized by enormous informal activities dominated by the women. Women in the rural areas are involved in several productive activities yet their roles are never reflected in the mainstream public development agenda. A study by Gopinath and Kalra (1985) in India observed that women are typically involved in farming, domestic activities and other community-related engagements. For sub-Saharan Africa, several studies have reported that women form 60-90% of the agricultural labour, depending on the area, and that they produce about two-thirds of food crops (Pala 1976, Lamming 1983, Ogunlela and Mukhtar 2009). Women constitute the central pillar of rural development in developing countries yet they are not visible in the mainstream rural development policies and programmes. According to Brandt (1995: 3), the many productive and development activities necessary for human well-being are made possible by women, yet they are not officially considered part of the conventional economy. Citing Waring (1999), O Toole and Macgarvey (2003: 175) noted that the conventional economy includes paid work, the activities of businesses and the making of profit, whereas women’s voluntary contributions towards the well-being of rural communities has not been considered part of the conventional economy. In Nigeria, the role of women in rural development is mostly located in the informal agricultural sector. However, most government at the centre of policy and programmes hardly place women at the centre of policy and programmes development agenda. Statistics vary, but the general impression is that women involvements in public rural development programmes are at minimal level (Damisa and Yohanna 2007, Ogunlela and Mukhtar 2009). The importance of this study is to evaluate the level of participation of rural women in development process by assessing their level of soci-economic activities.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Observations have shown that semi-rural extension and development projects have been created by the successive Nigerian military and the civilian governments. These programmes were to increase women’s knowledge, skills and participation in the area of agriculture, home economics, education and policies. All these programmes were aimed at breaking down social barriers that have prevented women from taking active part in community affairs and overall development. Such programmes, include Better Life for Rural Women, Family Support Programme, amongst others. Although, these programmes have impacted positively in integrating women into development activities, the involvement of women in these development activities was limited to the urban areas at the expense of the rural areas.

Even when women are at work and become partners in the development effort, there is no equality of treatment in certain vital areas and women suffer the negative effects. Integration of women into rural development as participants is, therefore, still fraught with problems and poses a tremendous challenge to Nigerian rural women. This paper will investigate rural womenparticipation in community development process.

1.3       Research Objectives

The major objective of this study is to determine rural women and community development process in Nigeria with study focus of Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria.

Specifically the study seeks to:

 1. Identify the economic activities of rural women towards sustainable socioeconomic development in Etche LGA of Rivers state, Nigeria. 

2. Examine the contributions of women in community development through engaging in economic activities in a rural setting in Etche LGA

3. Investigate whether educational factor acts as a barrier to women’s participation in community development programmes in EtcheLocal Government Area,

4. Make appropriate recommendations on how the participation of women in community development programmes could be enhanced.

1.4 Research Questions

Based on the above objectives, the following research questions will guide the study:

1. What are the economic activities/occupations of rural women in Etche LGA of Rivers state, Nigeria.

2. What are the contributions of rural women in community development through engaging in economic activities/infrastructures in a rural setting in Etche LGA

3. Does educational factor acts as a barrier to rural women’s participation in community development programmes in EtcheLocal Government Area,

4. What are the recommendations on how the participation of rural women in community development programmes could be enhanced?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

1. There is no significant difference on the economic activities/occupations of rural womentowards sustainable socioeconomic development in Etche LGA of Rivers state, Nigeria.

2. There is no significant difference on the contributions of rural women in community development through engaging in economic activities in a rural setting in Etche LGA

3. There is no significant difference on the educational level of rural women’s participation in community development programmes in EtcheLocal Government Area

1.6       Significance of the Study

In Nigeria, rural women contribute to the development of their communities through their involvement in different forms of economic activities. But the little emphasis is given to the economic contribution of rural women that constitute 60% of the population. Results of the present study can remind the government as well as non-governmental organizations that community development process can achieve and move faster with the involvement of women in economic and developmental activities. 

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study: rural women and community development process in Nigeria will cover entire Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria.

It will also cover to the literate and illiterates, the occupation and soci-economic activities of rural of women from Etche LGA, Rivers State, Nigeria.

1.8       Definition of Terms

  1. Gender Mainstreaming:Gender mainstreaming is the process of accessing the implication for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality (UN Economic and Social Council, 1997).
  2. Modernization:Modernization is seen from the evolutionary perspective. Countries are conceptualized as organizations that go through different stages of a linear path that inevitably leads to an industrialized, urban and ordered society (Tavira, 2008:205). Gardner and Lewis (2003) noted that industrialization, the transition from sustenance agriculture to commercial plantations and urbanization are key phenomena in the process.
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