In south-western Nigeria, a number of traditional and social beliefs and norms work to inhibit women’s participation in agricultural activities. As in many places throughout Africa, there has traditionally been a strict gendered division of labour in agriculture, with many communities regarding women as being responsible for crops marked for family consumption. This study assessed the effect of gender-based discriminatory practices on poverty reduction and women empowerment in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria. It was designed to assess the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents, identify the activities performed by men, women and both in agriculture in the area, the constraints posed by traditional beliefs and practices on women farmers, and the productivity level of the respondents. 120 female respondents were randomly selected from twelve communities to answers a questionnaire, with responses analysed using frequency distribution, percentage and mean.
The results showed that women are being discriminated upon in decision making, education, inheritance, and employment, and that some of these discriminations are caused by cultural and religious laws restricting women from fulfilling their potential. Discrimination of women leads to increased poverty levels, as well as psychological impacts such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Subsequently, this then impacts the effectiveness of poverty reduction and woman empowerment efforts. Based on the major findings, the following recommendations were made: cultural and religious laws should be restructured to suit modern day society; equal educational opportunities should be provided to women; skill training facilities should be provided to empower women; government should formulate policies that allows for equal rights in inheritance, especially land; and women should be given equal rights and power in decision-making.