This paper, published in the journal Social Sciences, examines the broad idea of gender and development, with specific focus on some of the critical issues and challenges confronting the involvement of rural women in development activities in Nigeria. The paper addresses this issue through theoretical and empirical literature review, examining how the impacts of women in rural development in Nigeria have been discussed and situated in historical and political perspectives.
Although women have served as critical agents of rural economic transformation, their role has been limited by the dictates of local patriarchy and religious beliefs, severely limiting women’s access to and use of infrastructure and services. However, their considerable and vital influence has been felt indirectly in their contribution to agricultural production, and directly in the domestic domain. A number of challenges affecting women’s active involvement in rural development are identified, including the prevalence of cultural and institutional barriers, as well as limited access to critical infrastructures in the rural areas.
The positive impact of prior policy efforts are praised where successful outputs have been achieved, such as gender quotas for political positions; universal basic education, with a particular focus on girls enrollment and retention in schools; and social safety nets introduced in 2012 to alleviate the impact of the removal of oil subsidies. Future policy recommendations are then offered, focused on practical, legislative, legal and administrative actions that are particularly targeted at addressing the barriers identified in the paper.