1.1 Background of the Study
Gender is a social construction and codification of differences between the sexes and social relationship between women and men (Oppong 1987, Mason 1984). The fundamental contributions of women in their households and national economies are increasingly acknowledged in Nigeria and by international community mainly because of their energetic efforts to organize, articulate their concerns and make their voices heard. At both grassroots and national levels, more women associations are taking advantage of the new political openings to assert their leadership roles.
Gender issues and the challenges of rural development in Nigeria has attracted attention of national discuss from the academia, economist, cultural and political class. They are pressing for an expansion of women’s economic and social opportunities and the advancement of women rights. By improving their own positions, women enhances the country’s broader development prospects. Hence, it is pertinent to note that, women in Nigeria have continued to face enormous challenges.
A nation’s population is almost divided evenly between males and females except under peculiar circumstances such as war or highly selective immigration which normally affect males more than females (Fapohunda 2012). Furthermore, Fapohunda (2012) states that nevertheless, throughout the ages, the sharing of power, wealth, influence, employment etc between men and women have faced daunting challenges of joblessness, absence of source of livelihood, widowhood and single parenthood. These challenges not withstanding the roles played by women in rural development in Nigeria and in all facts of human endeavours have been quite commendable and notable in the country. Thus, the growing recognition of women contributions to rural development has not translated into significantly improved access to resources or increased decision-makingpowers. Neither has the dynamism that women displace in the economic, cultural and social lives of their rural communities through their associations and informal networks been channeled into creating new models of participation and leadership. Apart from the political challenges the material conditions under which most rural women live and work continue to deteriorate due to conflict, economic and social decline, spread of disease and neglect on the rights of rural women.
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GENDER ISSUES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF IKWO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE 2006-2011