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928 resources(s)

Gender Hub sources and selects hundreds of resources across a range of gender themes to help you get in the know. Our editorial team carefully summarises them so that we present you the latest evidence in a timely way.

Gender and urbanisation in Nigeria

Publisher: Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 2014
Author: G. M Denen

Urban studies has only recently begun to incorporate feminist perspectives, and in doing so reflects on the working not just of political economy, but also patriarchy. While urbanisation can challenge the private patriarchy found in suburban and rural environments due to the higher density and diversity of people, public patriarchy can be reinforced as women, once dependent on men, also become dependent on paid work, employers, and the state and its gender-insensitive systems.

This paper, written by authors from the Department of Sociology and Plateau State University, Nigeria, presents a succinct literature review introducing these concepts, and the various gendered impacts urbanisation has delivered. These impacts serve to reproduce patriarchal systems where women are classed as second-class citizens, and are subject to various forms of risk and abuse. The paper focuses on women’s health issues in urban environments, where the anonymity and invisibility of women enables domestic violence, robbery, and sexual assaults, to a greater degree than in rural areas, where it is harder to hide abuse in more linked and homogenous communities.

There are also opportunities for women brought about by urbanisation, making the process something of a double-edged sword. Urbanisation affords women the opportunity to obtain paid employment that gives them both socio-economic emancipation, and a voice in some neighborhoods’ discussion and decision making. Furthermore, women in cities have better access to more services, including healthcare and community savings schemes. However, these new roles and opportunities often come in addition to women continuing household chores and caring for family, placing a great amount of pressure on women.

The paper closes with some concrete recommendations for policy makers, urban developers, development agencies, and the general public on how to improve the lives of all urban citizens, especially vulnerable groups like women:

  • Women’s position in government and decision making must be enhanced to ensure women’s needs are integrated in urban centres.
  • More discussion and advocacy is required to help bring about changes in societal attitudes, and promote acceptance of ideas of equity, and the complementary nature of gender roles.
  • Women must be encouraged and motivated to take risks, challenge norms, and participate in civic life.
  • There is a need to build alliances across the gender divide, and embrace and promote a more democratic approach to public matters.
  • Women must unite, eliminate the unnecessary rivalry, and conquer their common enemy: patriarchal…

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Gender roles and opportunities for women in urban environments

Publisher: GSDRC Applied Knowledge Services 2016
Author: P. Pozarny

Women are becoming the majority in urban areas, and many more people now live in female-headed households, representing a significant shift in gender roles and relations. This GSDRC helpdesk research report examines the literature to tell us about different gender roles and opportunities for women in urban environments, compared to rural. It highlights when gender roles are perpetuated and when they change, with particular attention to factors influencing women’s economic empowerment.

The report begins with an overview, before discussing gender dimensions across a number of sectors and issues in both rural and urban contexts, including: education, training and work opportunities; early marriage and family planning; paid employment; domestic work; informal sector work; care work; and violence against women. Case studies and lessons are presented, such as the status of gender empowerment and reproductive health in urban Nigeria. Recent research has found that in certain urban areas in Nigeria, more needs to be done to specifically address cultural barriers to women’s empowerment, and encourage greater involvement in decision making in the household.

The key messages drawn from the review include that urban women, on the whole, have greater access to services and infrastructure, more opportunities, and enjoy a more relaxed set of sociocultural restrictions compared to rural women. However, women do not benefit equally to men, with gender inequalities experienced in many areas of everyday life. Homogeneity in rural areas often inhibit awareness of alternative gender roles, and opportunities for paid work and education and health services are fewer, both hindering women’s empowerment to challenge prohibitive gender norms. In urban areas, the greater diversity helps break down intolerances, but at the same time women can be at greater risk of violence and discrimination due to the anonymity afforded by dense, urban…

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Urban land, planning, and governance systems in Nigeria

Publisher: University of the West of England 2015
Author: J. Lamond

In the face of rapid urbanisation, the issues of inadequate planning, governance, and management in Nigeria is well known, and the combination of customary and colonial practices, outdated policies and plans, and entrenched attitudes make solutions hard to come by. To make sense of this seemingly intractable problem, this report summarises the urban land administration and planning debate in Nigeria by examining the issues based on literature review, and the views of key urban sector stakeholders from six Nigerian cities.

The report is split into four sections: urban land, planning, and governance, which presents an overview of the historical factors at play, back to pre-colonial times and up to the challenges facing current administrations; emerged urban development systems, which examines formal and informal urban development process and outcomes in recent initiatives; a discussion of the views of urban stakeholders, in the context of recent literature and on-the-ground experiences; and a conclusion, which presents contributions to policy debates, and suggestions for areas that require more research.

The report also examines recent initiatives at national, state and local levels. The authors conclude that some initiatives have been met with a measure of success, and that these are typified by a flexibility that applies global principles at a local level, and that canvas the needs of local populations. The survey found that problems identified in literature are recognised by stakeholders, with questions of equity, poverty divides, gender issues, and climate adaptation emerging as priorities. Lack of resources was highlighted by all participants in the face of rapid urbanisation, and while the need for an integrated, planned approach recognised by all, political and economic pressures were recognised more by official and professional groups.

The authors conclude that sustained engagement with communities in the form of participatory approaches has led to better development outcomes. However, it still remains necessary to consider how urban governance and management practices will promote inclusiveness on a more regular basis, and ensure that the wider developmental needs of urban residents, particularly those in the informal sector, can be met. In that spirit, the paper closes by recommending that a policy review should be undertaken, with particular focus on the need for: coordinated urban planning, development, and governance; satisfying different socioeconomic groups in terms of both processes and outcomes; addressing the inadequacies of the formal system; and incorporating in the workable aspects of the informal development…

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Rural and urban linkages and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Publisher: Gender and Household Food Security, IFAD 2016
Author: K. Hussein

In a rapidly urbanising world, the role of smallholders and other agricultural producers in rural areas will require significant attention from policymakers, researchers, and the development field. The increasing demand for food, and the need for a booming youth demographic, points to rural agricultural production as being of vital importance, both in terms of ensuring food security, and as a source of income and economic empowerment. 

This paper, published by the International Fund for Agriculture Development, argues for using a systems approach to analyse the relationships and linkages between rural and urban settings. Viewing food systems as regional-based, centred around an urban area, allows for an integrated approach that acknowledges the interdependence between the rural and urban, and focuses on strengthening the system as a whole.

The paper begins with a look at emerging rural-urban dynamics, including urbanisation patterns, the key role of smallholder farmers, and the potential of small- and medium-sized towns to promote sustainable development models. The authors then focus on the trends and opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, before proposing policies and actions for inclusive and sustainable food systems in Africa focused upon five key areas:

  • Reducing rural-urban inequalities through increased investment in rural education, infrastructure, education, and energy, strengthening rural-urban linkages, and improving connectivity.
  • Strengthening and improving the inclusivity of agricultural value chains, including equal and equitable access for smallholders and women farmers, and efforts to stimulate local markets.
  • Adopting territorial or city-region food system approaches that encompass cities and the region they are situated in. Such a systems approach will necessarily value both urban and rural areas as intrinsic and important parts of food security and social equity.
  • Creating decent jobs in food systems, particularly for rural women, youth, and migrants; the labour intensive nature of agriculture holds substantial promise in terms of employment generation. As an important source of income for women, agriculture is therefore a key focal point for women’s empowerment.
  • Facilitating livelihoods, and enhancing migration and remittance flows. It is the view of the authors that fears over excessive rural-to-urban migration increasing urban poverty rates is often overstated, and that mobility between the two is important for increasing opportunity, and facilitating migrants investing in, and potentially moving back to, rural areas.

The authors conclude that urbanisation has radically altered food systems, with the majority of food produced in rural areas for consumption predominantly in urban areas. If we are to ensure equitable, sustainable development, it is vital that we recognise the interdependent and complex relationships and linkages between rural and urban areas, and embark on actions that are mutually beneficially, and that strengthens the system as a whole. This will require specific attention on the role of women and young people, to ensure inclusive models of…

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The rural-urban divide in health and development

Publisher: Population Reference Bureau 2015

This data-sheet from the Population Reference Bureau presents data from 2014 to compare rural and urban trends and metrics relevant to human development. The data is drawn from multiple sources, and provides a snapshot of developing countries at a time of rapid urbanisation and social change. While definitions of what constitutes “urban” differs around the world, it is estimated that over 54% of the world’s population is now living in urban environments, though in the least developed states, this figure is closer to 31%.

Among the data highlighted are higher child-birth rates and child marriages in rural areas across the world, and higher rates of modern contraception use and longer school enrollment in urban areas. While parts of Africa and Asia are witnessing urbanisations rates in excess of 2% per years, Africa is still estimated to remain majority rural for at least another 20 years. 

The data sheet finishes with a comprehensive index of demographic, socioeconomic, maternal and child health, family planning, and drinking water and sanitation metrics for developing countries in every continent, and information on how the Population Reference Bureau informs people around the world, and helps to empower them to advance the wellbeing of current and future…

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Religious approaches to preventing gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria

Publisher: International Journal of Gender and Women's Studies 2015
Author: Ushe Mike Ushe

This paper, published in the International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, examines the role of religious approaches in preventing sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria. It begins by clarifying certain key concepts concerning these religious approaches, as well as the forms of gender violence and sexual abuse studied. The methodology of the study […]

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Exploring the relevance of feminist leadership in theological education of Nigeria

Publisher: Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 2014
Author: A. I. Olusola

In Nigeria, as with many other places in the world, the Church is growing at a phenomenal rate, consisting of numerous Christian denominations both old and new. This spread of religious institutions holds both positive and negative promise; on the one hand, multiple denominations provide new forms of leadership, as well as checks and balances to orthodox churches, while on the other, harmful doctrines and misinterpretation of scripture can hinder women’s emancipation. It is in this context that this paper explores the need, status, and relevance of feminist thinking and leadership in Christian theological education in Nigeria. Through literature review, the paper highlights the historical neglect of feminism and feminist values exhibited by the Church, and argues that such a position is unnecessary given the values shared by both Christian theology and feminism.

The paper begins by expanding upon the concepts of feminism, feminist leadership, and theology, before outlining some theological reasons for concern, including the spread of misogynistic interpretations of the Adam and Eve story contributing to negative gender attitudes. The relevance of feminist leadership is then discussed, with a mention given to the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians who target the gospel from African perspectives that are more inclined to view men and women equally. The author concludes that there is a great need for more feminist leaders and Christian theological schools in contemporary Nigerian society to shed more light on the issues affecting women. Christian values of justice, compassion, and honesty should be utilised to tackle negative gender norms and reshape public opinion about women, something that will require feminist values and leadership to be included through theological education, and into the Church…

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Effect of religion on reproductive health issues in Nigeria

Publisher: International Journal of Innovative Healthcare Research 2016
Author: A. O. Fadeyi

Religion is one of the most important social institutions in Nigeria, with pervasive effects on various aspects of people’s lives, attitudes and behaviours due to its social function of upholding and legitimising social norms and values, including morality, and enabling many to cope with problems. Based on this premise, this paper stresses that religion is critical in tackling the fact that too many women and children still die due to complications relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or diseases, a fact that prohibits meaningful growth and progress in society. As the two dominant religions in the country, the paper examines Christian and Islamic writings and positions to see how religion can play a positive role in promoting reproductive health issues, including modern family planning, and reproductive health practices such as child spacing by using contraceptive pills or condoms, and/or traditional practices.

The first part of this paper provides an overview of the reproductive health situation in Nigeria, drawing from national statistics, followed by a brief look at the National Reproductive Health Policy and strategic framework. The second part of the paper then critically reviews each of the eight major components of reproductive health as contained in the National Policy and Strategic Framework, including concepts, services, and strategies and approaches relating to: safe motherhood; family planning; sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS; traditional practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence; cancers of the reproductive system; infertility and sexual dysfunction; management of non-infectious diseases; and adolescent reproductive health. With each component, the authors outline current and historical Islamic and Christian positions on the topic, complete with relevant scripture, in simplified non-technical language. On some components, such as FGM, gender equity, domestic violence, and cancer screening, there is clear scope for agreement between religious thinking and the well-being of women and girls. However, other topics represent a significantly greater hurdle, with abortion, sexuality, and sex out of wedlock all roundly condemned to various degrees by Islam and Christianity.

The paper makes recommendations to religious scholars and institutions in Nigeria, set in the context of the duty to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals and promote family health, fight malnutrition, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and stamp out sexually transmitted diseases:

  • Religion should present a united vanguard in the crusade against HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and harmful traditional practices, including through an inter-faith initiative to ensure the distribution of funds only to those institutions that are willing to speak openly and truthfully about such issues.

  • Religious leaders in Nigeria should mobilise inter-denominational teams to provide more informed and practical approaches to reproductive health education and prevention. The pulpit should serve as a powerful tool to advocate for all acceptable preventive methods, and for educating and empowering people on sexuality and reproductive health.

  • Religious institutions must utilise their significant resources to enhance communities capacity to combat HIV/AIDS and other possible reproductive health issues by running more hospitals, clinics, and schools.

  • HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, and media coverage of reproductive health issues more generally, must include religious framing to be effective.

  • Local governments and NGOs should be empowered to provide an established network through which faith-based organisations (FBOs), such as the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) and Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), can reach communities to provide information and services to the people. FBOs are an essential component for such networks to be…

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Consequences of Boko Haram terrorism on women in Northern Nigeria

Publisher: Applied Research Journal 2015
Author: A. Osita-Njoku

Throughout the 20th century, terrorism was largely limited to regional and national boundaries, and predominantly based on revolutionary nationalism in the fight against colonial powers. However, since the attacks in the United States in 2001 by Al Qaeda, smaller terrorist groups have been emboldened to strike far and wide, and to use terroristic tactics in waging bloody and asymmetrical warfare in numerous countries. In Nigeria, 2001 was also the year which saw the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency which targeted what they saw as the “evil” of western education, including the education of girls.

This paper, published in the Applied Research Journal, is primarily concerned with examining the consequences of Boko Haram terrorism on women, using a qualitative and explanatory framework which begins by defining the key concept – terrorism – as being asymmetric political conflict designed to induce terror and fear through violent victimisation and destruction of non-combatant targets. The origins and causes Boko Haram’s emergence are then discussed, including a brief history going back to the 1990’s, with causes including poverty, unemployment, and the influence of radical jihadists around the world.

Next the paper identifies and discusses the key consequences of Boko Haram terrorism on women in Nigeria, namely: the abduction of women and girls; the arbitrary arrest of women by government security agents; the use of women for labour to support Boko Haram activities; inflicting collective terror on women through kidnap, violence, rape, and forced marriages; denying women and girls education, and instead marrying young women off in their teens; and a livelihood crisis as women in northern Nigeria stop farming the land and go into hiding for fear of attack, and movement restrictions and emergency rule hamper economic activity.

The paper makes a number of recommendations aimed at both government and religious institutions and leaders.

  • The government should make youth education a priority, as this is the major tool to break the cycle of poverty in the northern region of Nigeria.

  • Government security agents should be properly trained and equipped to provide security in communities, and especially to vulnerable women and girls.

  • There should be round-the-clock security in schools to protect school girls from abduction, rape and forced marriage by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

  • Community policing should be strengthened to provide public safety, and communities should be involved by the security apparatus in the fight against Boko Haram.

  • Collaboration between the Nigeria government and the international communities, especially with Nigeria’s neighbouring countries (Chad, Cameroon and Niger), is required in the fight against Boko Haram.

  • Strong political will is needed by the Nigerian government to fight the corruption which has impeded the fight against Boko Haram.

  • Islamic clerics should propagate the message of peace and respect for women’s right in their communities, with sanctions against religious clerics that incite violence against women or any minority religious group.

  • The government should collaborate with international donor agencies to provide cash transfer grants to assist mothers in ensuring their children, especially girls, stay or return to school.  …

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Overcoming cultural, traditional and religious beliefs and practices in understanding and combating domestic violence in Nigeria

Publisher: International Journal of Innovative Research and Development 2015
Author: B. O. Igwe

In 2012, a study in Nigeria showed that 64.4% of married women and 50.4% of unmarried women expressed consent for wife beating, such is the prevalence and normalisation of domestic abuse in the country. So widespread is the practice of wife beating, and of parents using violence against children, that some experts regard the problem as assuming epidemic proportions, and there is rarely a day goes by without a case of homicide by domestic violence (DV) being featured in print and broadcast media. This journal article presents a literature review that examines the nexus between Nigeria’s three major ethnic group’s cultural, traditional, and religious beliefs and practices that can act to impede the understanding and willingness of people to combat DV.

The paper begins by outlining the Nigerian experience of DV, explaining that until the mid-1990’s very little was done to combat DV, including near non-coverage of DV in print and broadcast media. Much has changed since then however, with numerous international agreements and human rights conventions signed by successive Nigerian governments. Recently, Nigeria joined the League of Nations that have a federal law against DV with the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (VAPP) signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, which received an overwhelming commendation both nationally and internationally. However, the author notes that the VAPP Act will need to be more than a piece of paper; it needs translating into having real meaning for the lives of Nigerians.

The rest of the paper tackles various aspects and causes of DV in Nigeria, including: the growing use and reach of awareness campaigns in influencing the behaviour and attitudes of society and institutions, including the police and justice system; the positive and negative influence of tradition, culture, and religion on DV and gender-related values; inheritance rights; the culture of silence and shame that is socially enforced, and keeps women – and men – from speaking out on DV; and the cultural norms encouraging a sense of ownership of wives by men, reinforced by both genders, as well as traditions such as bride-price. As former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja chapter, barrister Dave Ajetomobi, states, “There are many laws against domestic violence, but they are not working because of the cultural belief that a man owns his wife. Even the police hold this belief”.

The author concludes that DV and domestic homicide is far too common in Nigeria, and that it is only when the worst possible outcome has manifested that people begin to recall and speak out about their knowledge of abuse. This culture of silence must be ended, with people encouraged to raise issues before it is too late. While the increase in DV instances is worrying, more troubling still is the fact that many Nigerians are struggling to even see DV as immoral, let alone a crime. This poses a serious barrier to effectively tackling the scourge off DV in Nigeria, and requires significant work to change attitudes not only by government and NGO’s, but also, crucially, from religious leaders and institutions that play such a vital role in the traditional and cultural beliefs of the Nigerian…

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