2.1    Introduction

Women suffrage (as one of women’s rights, which means the right of women by law to vote in local, national and municipal elections) was the first notice able agitation of women towards a total freedom of the female life (early in the 19th century till early 20th century). Before then some parts of the world such as the Ancient Greece, Republican Rome and a few democratic countries of Europe disallowed their women and female gender from voting all. As time went, this franchise spread even to the United Kingdom in 1832. But when the agitation started and the struggle commenced, it was intense. By the early years of the 20th century, women had won the right to participate in voting activity (both in national and local levels); while some limited it to local levels alone.

Moreover, the aftermath of the World War also helped the enfranchisement programme of women in few countries, because a lot of men died in the war. At a period women were able to win the equal right to vote in all categories of elections. Some countries who gained independence after the 2nd World War II also allowed equal voting rights for both sexes. And although there were some countries who did not allow women suffrage they had soon recognize the need for women equal voting right.

This particular right (women suffrage) had actually spurred the uprising of other rights from inception till the present. In 19-20 July, 1948 (Mott and Cady Station) issued a call for a convention to discuss the matter of women’s right and also passed a declaration that called for the woman total suffrage and for the right of women to and employment opportunities. This convention and others have supported women for a very long time. The involvements of great intellectual feminist have also contributed positively to women and their right. It is worthy of mention, to say, that this women enfranchise was soon introduced to Nigeria, because Nigeria was then a protectorate of the British government. It was in the early 1900’s that the Nigerian women were allowed to vote and every adult that had reached the age of 18.

After that, this first “battle” had 9been fought and another issue was raised again.  That is, the agitation which still sought equal right for women, giving them equalized status and representation and freedom to decide their own career and life pattern.

These were a challenge against the idea that says that women exist only to please men and the proposition that women must exist only to please men. And the proposition that women must receive equal opportunities as their male-counterpart in 1972, in education, work and polities. The view social political and economical awareness of the African women in particular can be assumed in the words of this editorial comment.

“The African woman whose contribution to society has frequently been overlooked is suddenly finding herself liberated from many of the constraints placed on her in the past.  The women who once grew up learning to cast down her eyes tilling the soul, while her brothers went to school, burning her own feeling and denying her own rights as well, is now learning good lessons. She is discovering a view sense of self worth by participating in women groups and adult literacy classes. When sending her daughter to school and demanding changes in laws, calling for inheritance and property rights. And in the process, she is helping to build her community and developing her nations.”

“We know that all women are out of the bondage of slavery, we are set free from the restricting confute of the kitchen and would not go back to that narrow scope anymore by the grace of better life for all women”

It is true that women in contemporary Nigeria are highly populated in the formal sector of the labour force, although not actively. In 1982, it was observed that women make up to almost 50% of the labour force. (Okoronkwo,1985 ). Moreover Amenechi 1985 gave reasons for the remarkable participations of women in the labour entity. Amenechi further argued that apart from the above mentioned reasons, it was due to the fact that women wanted to participate in all aspects of life as it is nowadays. Young and old will not in their book “the symmetrical family”.

Routledge and Kegan Paul / institute of communities’ studies, (1973), envisage a new family pattern – emerging whose basis is not equality between the husband and wife. But at least something approaching symmetry, increasing (wife’s work outside the house and husband inside the house) therefore, it means that both will be working inside and outside the house.

However, in spite of the large number of women in active employment lately, they still recall low representation in high ranking positions in particular example of the positions are management senior executives etcetera. Although women are relatively well accepted in the labour market, yet, the most striking difference between women and men is the work they perform. Men and women are to a great extent found in different sphere of economic activity and occupations. And within most occupations they are employed at different levels and within different work tasks.



2.2. The Concept of Gender and Sex

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, which defines gender as the physical and social condition of being male or female. This definition shows that physically conditioned both men and women are born to be different from each other with respect to such differences as penis and vagina, the pain of breasts for female and chest for males etcetera. The socially conditioned aspect is what explains the difference in the society acceptance and value of both man and woman. Hence, the society may value a male in one dimension and disvalue the female in that dimension, but accepting her in another. Furthermore, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines the sex term as the state of being either a male of female in all males or all females and considered as one group. This however dwells virtually on the biological physical aspect given on gender but the very unique similarity between gender and sex is the idea of pre—existence differentiation between men and women. It should have been considered by now that sex as a concept cannot typically stand—alone. It is either existing in or with gender as a wider concept.

More-over, gender has also been explained as been a socially inclusive element which exploits social construct in societies. It dictates very great feelings and may not have limit. It also seems to be flexible. In addition, gender can fully explain the male and female as entities. It comprises of designated/assigned beliefs, attitudes, symbols/stereotype behaviour and actions that just define who a man or woman is or should be, and conjugating those things to the biological factors that determine sex. In fact, most societies, even science the dark ages have always relied on gender concept with which the structure their environment including power relation. A research into some African cultures, shows that gender create a notion that the relations between men and women are not binary or polar but rather situational and dynamic.

Consequently, it is true that gender plays a vital role to determine social stratification inclining to unequal and unfair distribution of wealth, power and prestige etcetera, between men and women especially. Again sex as been used as a basis for prejudice and discrimination against the women.

Upon the study that makes the numerical majority in most societies but they (women) are also regarded and stereotyped as members of a social minority. In any case, we should not deny the fact that there are differences between males and females as concerned with biology and chemistry composition (example are the reproductive organs- that is chromosomes X and Y).

It is also noticeable that while female have more estrogens, males posses more testosterones. Therefore, these peculiar differences coupled with others play vital roles to determine physical development such as size of body, amount of hair, size of breast, hip, voice, and etcetera. As earlier explained sociological idea about women and men is the complicated area of sex and gender. The sociological idea makes these possible that cultural belief define the basic nature of males and females. That value also ranks the males higher than females, particularly in patrileanea societies.

That norm, support male privilege and determine positive and negative attitudes. Since the Nigeria societies are majorly patrileanea communities, therefore mentioned assumptions of sociological idea are inherent in them. The incubation of roles, status, ranks are usually measured by sex and gander. Even in the modern/ industrial cities where women have opportunities to work with men outside the home, there is always difference in their occupation and what they do. Through studies carried out on males and females, it was said that men in the society tend to exhibit aggressiveness and self confidence, while women on their part would exhibit tenderness, vulnerability emotion.

But on final note, close study has revealed on the characteristics of males and females (that is aggressiveness, self confidence tenderness, emotion, vulnerability) we are therefore able to conclude that the (that is characteristics) might only be biological natural or inevitable in the society.

2.3. Women and Education

Although few African countries are quick to point out that their national constitutions proclaimed the right of all citizens to education yet high rates of illiteracy persist in most of these countries with women possessing higher rates. For instance, statistical gathering shows that about 91.7% of women in Burkina Faso are illiterate 33. 4% in Algeria, 69% in Malawi and 29% in Uganda.

Some of the causes of the poor and illiteracy rate of women in the   African nations have been limited to poor family “background, wide disparities in overall school enrolment, poor performance of the girl child in school, poor representation in areas of science and technology, drop – out rate among the girl child as a result of early pregnancy and early marriages the predominant high preference and value given to boys formal education.

However, it has been realised that the place of women in the society cannot be overlooked. After decades of ‘’striking’’ and ‘’undaunted’’ performances in various endeavours in the society, the role of women both socially and economically has become a function of survival for countries today. For instance, several countries have established adult education centre that teach reading, writing and simple arithmetic as well as other functional skills to equip women for various activities such as income generation. Again, gender responsive community centres have also been created where women and men meet for various types of learning and information dissemination. Moreover, countries such as Guinea-Bissau Liberia, Madagascar and Nigeria have instituted specific types of training provided to leader of women’s groups in areas such as management skills, population and family life issues, agriculture, health and environment, information-education. Communication skills on gender and women’s access of education issues.                                                   Higher education and professional, training at specialised levels provide the pool from which a critical mass of women will be recruited to decision making positions. Unfortunately, economic constraints have resulted in cost sharing policies that have de-emphasised higher education such policies are likely to put women, who already have unequal access to education at a disadvantage. But proper monitoring mechanism should therefore be established in every country to follow-up on the impact of educational policies and practices on women and girls.

The Effect of Education on Women Participation

The introduction of the western education had scrubbed off the old values, beliefs and norms about women in the society (Adeleke 1990). Particularly in Nigeria, for instance, education was the catalyst that spurred the manifested contributions and historical recognition which women made to national development.

Consequently too, paid employment and industrialization of cities to seek employment. The responsibility of the family which may include the extended family was becoming enormous on women as men had either died or divorce their wives and technology was developing. Whatever will be left, when women-emancipation reach a peak-great opportunities for education and better job. Women are now being employee in factor and spheres of the economy.

They are entering into the jobs that were once traditionally exclusive for men. Instance evidence, was observed from a BBC (British Broadcasting Cooperation) Network report, Wednesday 1st of September, 1999. The foreign Minister of Malawi was on BBC. He explained in an interview that this to ensure equal opportunity for Malawian women, in the Army, Navy and Air force.

2.4    Women, Occupation and Labour – Force

Very long decades ago, especially in Nigeria, traditional societies, the roles of women had once being that of complementary. According to Fashoyin (1985) women in traditional communities like their males counterparts held farmlands and assist their husbands in all farming activities. Besides working on the farm, women in traditional Nigerian societies, he goes on to say, as also where in the region of west Africa, actively participated in non-agricultural activities such as crafts and dyeing, weaving, spinning and of course, retail trade to include food processing and other agricultural activities such as pottery as well as sales and distribution of commodities (Lloyd, 1980-p558) also gave an insight into the roles of traditional women especially those in the South Western region of the nation (i.e Oyo)  “The traditional crafts for women than include-pottery, spinning, dyeing and weaving on the vertical loom.

But later, after sometime, the traditional and socially approved roles of Nigerian women became that of child bearing Agriculture and housekeeping.

There was the traditional relegation of women to the background, homemakers, child bearers and secondary workers. So soon the process has changed. African women began to stay in the house, while their husbands and sons went to the farm to work.

2.5              The Natural Position of Women

Furthermore, another conclusion drawn from the divine providence through the account of God’s creation women in the Holy Book, which also described headship, superiority and totality status to the man and the woman as a helpless human who want protection (for her life) from the man. Actually, it was the divine providence that originated and orientated the conceptions about women to means, subordinating  beings so, when the European (colonial masters had hutted down here in Nigeria) many things commenced changes. For instance Nigeria was created and then formed. But intertribal conflicts, poverty and exploitation explained the tune of their visitation.

Moreover, among the various changes which the colonial masters ensured was the deposition of women’s status in the society. The pride of being a man Beth Ann Bassein in her book “women and death,” linkages in western thought and literature mentioned that Aristole’’ sees women as been a Misbegolton male and a faulty replica men. And this confirms why she had to be named women. Fraud (a sex-role theorist) also pointed to women lack of a penis, which he thought out into her aspiration and potentials in many areas.

He strew typed her as been a home mangue, that is (a man with something missing) on this basis however, Freud accepted that women should take only passive role.

There is another inclination which springs the idea that a lady cannot be a complete woman except she is married to a man. She (the lady) might only be regarded to as a thing that can bolster the male’s ego. The woman continues, is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not him (the male) with reference to her.

However, in her submersion Beth Ann Bassein, submitted that a woman in most times  imagistic ally observed or studied as having some parts, aspects or quality missing or perhaps taken from her totality. This therefore, suggest that the woman is usually seen as been incomplete in all, she therefore become less than human, less than capable, less than male, less than reasonable, less than a citizen. Beth Ann Basseins said that there are some attitudes established towards women and these make them been seen at the end of the continuum, either as dead or diminishing to nothing.

Furthermore, she stated that that the woman are been discovered as substandard human, who are less intelligent, less moral, less competent, physically in capable, psychologically and spiritually in competent. She also mentioned that in some folk stock societies, females were deprived of learning of learn like a man. This particular idea fostered the notion of schooling differential which was established as between the males and female.

During this era, when women were been disposed, there was general devaluation and discrimination against women as it is concern educational opportunities. Parent and people preferred to send their male children to school.

In addition not all forms educations were available to both sexes. In some pastoral cultures of the nation, the education available to women was geared towards equipping them with skills for milking animals while young men were taught the rudiments of cattle rearing. In most societies women were assigned with roles which were not really significant or unimportant for the existence of social order and group’s solidarity.

In a final note, it should be recalled that the Nigerian society was more patrilineal (which means its emphasise was laid more on the males/male child).

2.5.1 The Changing Role of women

As things would not continue and changes must come, feminists and reformists were becoming were becoming aware of the inferiority barrage toward women. So they sought to reposition and position women, so that they can account for total beings and from all sides of life. Feminist’s movement arose, seeking equal rights for women giving them equal status with men and freedom to decide their own careers and life patterns.

The feminist movement wanted particularly there evaluation of women’s social status, roles and their place in the economy. They wanted women to go beyond their former roles and house wives, mothers and home makers. But to also participate actively in economics, social and power representations of the society. Mary Wellstone craft’s a feminist, in her book “A vindication of the rights of women, published in England in 1792, challenged the idea that women existing only to please men and proposed that women receive the same opportunity as men in education, work and politics”. The advantage of feminist and reformists struggle was crystallized in 19th century with few women who were allowed to work in the professions. During this period, women had very little children (that is small family) coupled with the increase in household appliances women were freed from labour intensive chores formerly associated with housekeeping. Furthermore, the growth of the service sector in the western worlds especially in the 20th century (and after the dreadful world war11) also provided for new types of job to be created, which of course could be done as well by women. The organisations which were established after world war 11 created jobs for women in ambitions, because manpower (that is referring to men) was inadequate. It was during this period that women began to be aware of the fact that former societal traditional notions of them had failed to change rapidly as their actual living conditions had during that period, living condition had also become hard for women as for men. But then the society deprived them of improving their condition because of what may be termed as inherited norms.

2.6 The economic role of women education

Although until recently, the role of women particularly as it involves the economic well-being of the nation was seen as unrealistic, non-developmental and flimsy. However due to the current wholesome struggles for women active participation in the economic as social aspects of the nation, the benefits are better valued, exploited and utilized. Many governments are re-affirming their moral responsibilities to facilitate positive economic empowerment of women and to promote sustainable womanhood for them.

In African or developing nation, most women earn their livelihood from the informal economy and few own land or other capital to enable them earn a decent livelihood .But with high illiteracy rates and lack of access to savings and credit facilities women have had little chance to cross the poverty line. Most African countries although have now realised the exceptional performance of women in trade, and industry which is as a result of their participation in education, the increase pro-women government policies, and changing socio-cultural attitudes of the society  towards women. Nevertheless, it is still realised that women are poorly represented in economic decision making and formulation of financial, monetary   and other commercial policies strengthened in several countries. To develop commercial network women are encouraged and  supported by government, NGO’s and the private  sector to attend trade shows, fair expositions and exhibitions where they exhibit their products and services and make invaluable  marketing and entrepreneurial contacts. In conclusion illiteracy is particularly one main problems of developing countries the world over.

However, opening employment opportunities to women through education and training and where necessary through quota system may be a right direction to sustainable development.

The social role of women education

A better educated mother has fewer and better educated children. She is more productive both at home and in the work place. And she raises a healthier and stable family, since she can apply her knowledge of improved hygiene and nutritional practices. The social benefit of literacy have been show to be enhanced when literacy programmes are accompanied by supportive interventions, such as  credit facilities and skills training (Oxehametal, 2002, Lauglo 2001). This relates also to the kind of approach promoted in literacy programmes Smith (1997) found in Nepal that integrated health and literacy programmes had a greater effect on women’s health than literacy alone or health alone.

In this case, the literacy/health curriculum encouraged women to seek advice from local health professionals, similarly, in family literacy programmes, parents are offered practical ways of supporting their children educational alongside their own literacy learning. The fact women’s empowerment program combined economic support with education and community action initiative to tackle HIV/AID in Nepal. In relations to literacy and political involvement, stromquist points out that mobilization of previously marginalized citizens through literacy campaigns in Cuba and Nicaragua was successful because these literacy programmes were embedded in other social and economic reforms. A major limitation on the possibility of adult education programmes initiating social change (particularly in the areas of HIV/AID prevention) family planning and gender equality is the common focus on women as participant.

This rationale is based on the lower literacy rates of women (as compared to men) in most poor countries and does not take account of the need to include male participant in the wider education processes linked to literacy learning, such as awareness raising about gender in equality. The feminisation of literacy programmes in terms of facilitators, participants and curriculum which tends to focus on subject seen as ’women’s domain has meant that even non-literate men often feel reluctant to join a class (Robinson Pur. 2001)

The difficulties faced by women who try to adopt the new social practices they have learnt about, particularly around sexual health and family planning, suggest the need for a holistic approach to adult education which takes into account that other family members. Particularly men should be included in educational programmes, even if they are already literate. For instance, Robinson Pant Muluicultle, (1998) evaluation of a literacy programme in Nepal revealed that through women participant decided that they wanted smaller families and began to value daughters as well as sons they were unable to convince their husband and mother in-laws so did not adopt family planning.

The differing aims and approaches of adult education, as compared to schools, could facilitate greater social change men were encouraged as participants in such cases. Research on vocational skills training(leach et.al, 2004) suggest however that mixed gender classes through beneficial in some respects such as enabling men and women to discuss gender equality is sue together  may not provide the ‘safe’ environment where can gain greater confidence in speaking and writing, as in women only classes. Community literacy approaches have been developed in some countries to address the needs of both men and women, literate and non-literate, for literacy support. Such programmes may consist of more diverse provision than conventional literacy classes.

For instance, training for traditional scribe or extending community enterprises, such as newspapers, to reach a wider and more diverse audience. The community literacy project in Nepal has worked with forest user groups to translate and simplify key texts in order to widen access to official documents by marginalized groups (Maddox 2001). The quality and relevance of education offered by trainers and literacy facilitators is key to how far participants engage with new ideas and practices. Curriculum developed from and understanding of the local social context and existing gender relations Parajuli and Enslin (1990)as an example have been more successful in challenging traditional belief than ‘packages’ of  knowledge distributed on a large scale nationwide. However, button-up approaches are dependent on experienced teacher’s research shows that many literacy programmes are under-resourced, with poorly qualified instructor who lack confidence in facilitating discussion (Carrhill et. al. 2001) Oxenhem (2003). The evidence presented reveals above all that interaction between social, cultural, political and human benefits need to be recognised.