Though women constitute a large share of the agricultural labor force in Nigeria, little is known about their activities, roles, and constraints in the sector”.

Open Knowledge repository(World Bank Group).

Gender has been an important issue subjected to numerous discussions in the development paradigm over several decades and has transformed into a subject of diverse sociological interests.

According to National Geographic vocabulary, a rural area is an open swath of land that has few homes or other buildings, and not very many people. Rural population refers to people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the difference between total population and urban population. 

Nigeria – Rural population

Rural population (% of the total population) in Nigeria was reported at 51.4 % in 2016, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.

In this article, we will examine a broad idea of gender and development with a specific focus on some critical issues and challenges confronting the involvement of rural women in development activities in Nigeria.

In every rural community, women play vital roles in first raising the family and training the kids Aright, and the health of children who would go on to become adults is usually first the responsibility of women who are eventually in these communities are relegated solely to household duties without holding significant leadership positions.

The Open Knowledge Repository of the World Bank Group said the following about women in agriculture : “With a fast-growing population requiring an ever-growing supply of food, a national poverty rate of 63 percent, and a labor force that is dominated by agricultural work, Nigeria’s efforts to boost agricultural productivity could not be better timed. 

Though women constitute a large share of the agricultural labor force in Nigeria, little is known about their activities, roles, and constraints in the sector. By thoroughly assessing their agrarian activities, it will help to determine not only what women are doing in the industry, but how best to reduce their constraints and increase productivity.”

The rural community is very vital in the growth of the food industry in Nigeria, and Nigerian women are highly involved. When women are economically and socially empowered, they become a potent force for change. In rural areas of the developing world, women play a crucial role in running households and make significant contributions to agricultural production. But the inequalities that exist between women and men make it difficult for women to fulfil their potential. Many women earn extra income by working as wage laborers, producing and selling vegetables, or engaging in small-scale trading and enterprises. Added to these multiple tasks, they spend long hours fetching water and collecting firewood. In developing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, women typically work 12 more hours per week than men.

 In marginal areas and areas affected by climate change, where men need to migrate in search of work, women often have the sole responsibility for farming and raising the children. In areas of insurgencies, they are left vulnerable to circumstances, example of this is the North-Eastern region of Nigeria.

At a time when smallholder agriculture is changing rapidly as a result of commercialization, globalization, climate change, new technologies, and migration patterns, it is important to recognize the key role women play in agriculture. They need support to help them adapt to these changes and to seize emerging opportunities.

Delightfully, many rural women are choosing to develop their capacity in the knowledge of new developments through training organized by various organizations. A big shout out to organizations either affiliated organizations such as FAO or individual organizations like Solar sister an Organization that believes women are a vital part of the solution to the clean energy challenge. According to their website, they invest in women’s enterprise in off-grid communities. They see the opportunity to empower women and to reach those who aren’t reached by business-as-usual energy models. Centering local women in a rapidly growing clean energy sector is essential to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable solutions to climate change and a host of development issues.

There are ways to involve or train women, especially in agriculture, and it starts with education and training.

1.      Projects and Training: According to IFAD; (The International Fund for Agricultural Development); an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations, Development projects do best when women’s roles and needs are factored into project design from the start, and these project should recognize that broad and lasting environmental and economic improvements require better conditions, especially for women. Literacy classes are the foundation of this work; Training courses in new skills such as first aid, food processing and investing and building the capacities of rural women will improve their business, social, economic and financial skills. Capacity building and adult training range from providing adult education, life, and social skills training.

2.      Vocational Skills and Businesses: Rural women are looking for different ways to be empowered through hands-on skills, entrepreneurship, and micro-business expansions. We can contribute to help rural women gain direct vocational skills training or business idea expansion opportunities. By providing them with the essential tools to start, operate, build, and expand their businesses. Over the years, rural women have committed themselves to farm, fishing, and trades. Today they eagerly looking for news to enhance their daily living activities and to become more efficient in all sectors within their community. Agencies can design women development programs that are focused on providing core skills programs that can help them access markets to sell their farm products; understand the value chain of their industry and basic of micro business management and operations.

3.      Access to Financial Facilities: Rural women are consistently looking for different avenues to access microloans, Farming tools, business management, and operational tools. A woman who has committed herself to work will do more and multiply her efforts if she has access to the necessary tools for effectiveness and productivity. Project or program designs focus on women empowerment should be that which helps women access interest-free loans, essential business tools, and farm equipment. One of the keys to creating multipliers effect an increase in the building of sustainable small businesses in communities is to help women have access to essential facilitating tools for their daily engagement.

4.      Health: All relevant stakeholders can design projects that focus on providing affordable health care and training for women on healthy living, access to clean water, green economies and access to primary monthly menstrual and maternal care. An average rural woman faces a threat of maternal death. When we work together to create and provide health facilities for women, we will be contributing to the safety of a quarter of the world’s population.

5.      Social Groups and Mentorship: Cooperative learning and social groups contribute to the growth and empowerment of women. When women find themselves in a supportive group of like minds in their community and are encouraged to have the open discussion about the challenges they are facing with a system of accountability and responsibility among members, it leads to personal and group growth. Continuous mentorship is very important for rural women.

These are a few ways or suggestions concerning training rural women to scale up in their businesses, especially in the Agricultural sector. What are your thoughts? Please share in the comment box.

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