Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers

By Christina H. Gladwin; Center for African Studies University of Florida | Go to book overview

5
The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programs on Women and their Households in Bendel and Ogun States, Nigeria

Patience Elabor-Idemudia

In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce over half of the food grown ( UNECA 1975a). Yet they continue to experience poverty, hunger, and an immense decline in equity relative to men in their access to the means of agricultural production. Due to unequal access, women have had to resort to selling their labor and have, in the process, been subjected to increased labor exploitation, an increased number of work hours, and increased marginalization with limited economic stability. This has had tremendous impact on the quality of life in their households. Global developments have not helped the situation and have, in some cases, intensified the existing social and economic hardships for women in developing countries by restricting their activities to the uneconomic (informal) sectors of the economy. Ideological notions and practices have maintained the status quo and continue to limit the extent to which women can improve their lot.

Nigerian women are instrumental in many farm activities that contribute to economic and agricultural development but are generally regarded as "unproductive." They are the "invisible" half who are always affected but seldom taken into account. The extent to which women are exploited and denied access to production resources in the agricultural sector is partly due to the duality of the economic system, which may be said to be caught between traditional and modern and which is reflective of the level and stage of capitalism. Women's exploitation is tied to the machinery of the state economy, which promotes capitalism and tends to

Patience Elabor-ldemudia is a Ph.D. candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Sociology Dept., University of Toronto, Canada. She is a native of Benin City, Nigeria; and has had extensive research/extension/teaching experience working with women farmers and the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, Benin City. Her research interests include Third World development with a focus on women and agriculture, and agricultural extension education.

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