Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Responsive Entrepreneurial Economy of Nigeria: Enabling Women in a Disabling Environment

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Responsive Entrepreneurial Economy of Nigeria: Enabling Women in a Disabling Environment

Article excerpt

Abstract

Growth and development are among the most exciting subjects in economics, and the application of their principles to developing countries especially the African economies, is both needed and timely. In Nigeria, women have historically been disadvantaged in accessing not only material resources like property and credit, but also have been deprived of resources like education, market information and modem technology. All of these factors have negative implications for the type of enterprises that women are engaged in. This paper highlights the various economic constraints faced by women in Nigeria, as a result of limitations imposed on them by nature and culture; It calls for removal of gender-related obstacles in order to facilitate the creation of enterprises by women, as well as improving their general education, and entrepreneurial skills. The paper argues that gender imbalances in access to education and productive resources have important implications, not only for equity, but also for economic output, productivity, food security, fertility, and child welfare. It further recommends gender-specific activities and affirmative action, whenever women are in a particularly disadvantageous position. The paper concludes that mainstreaming gender into budget and policy design will provide women access to support services they require to develop the necessary confidence, explore alternative business ideas and entrepreneurial strategies that will stimulate, not only the Nigerian economy, but the people's way of life.

Keywords: Entrepreneurial Economy, Nigeria, Women and economics

Basic challenges

Nigerian women, like their counterparts in other parts of Africa traditionally have multiple responsibilities as mothers and producers and therefore tend to engage in activities that are home-based and less risky. These have negative implications, as low risk activities are often those, which produce limited returns. The reduced physical mobility of many of the women who operate in this category also often prevents them from seeking out information on better economic opportunities. Generally however, the self-employed earn less than their counterparts in paid employment (U.S. Small Business Administration (1997). Although many people chose self employment because it seems to offer them greater independence and flexibility, Nigerian women who engage in micro and small enterprises started their businesses to overcome gender discrimination and economic disadvantages including the challenges of poverty and its consequences. Hence these groups of entrepreneurs find it more convenient to engage in the trade and service sectors and have low representation in the small-scale manufacturing sector. A situation that is attributed to factors such as: low levels of education, lack of opportunities for training; as well as meager financial and human capital. Some of the driving forces behind them starting a business include: household subsistence needs: like food, clothes, education of children, unemployment; family pressures on girls to earn their own living among others. Invariably, these women are naturally entrepreneurial by their active handling of risks and uncertainties in order to meet the challenges imposed on them by unequal access to socially and economically valued goods, opportunities, resources and other rewards. However, in the long run, the equal participation of men and women in these matters depends on strategic measures, that is, policy and institutional changes needed to tackle the root cause of gender inequalities and remove the constraints to women's involvement in economic development.

Objective

The main objective of this paper is to raise consciousness among policy makers, investors, bankers, women and men in Nigeria, to the fact that women's entrepreneurship represents an untapped reservoir for job creation, economic growth and social cohesion. The paper also seeks to suggest that official steps should be taken towards incorporating gender budgeting in the policymaking process and determining appropriate measures for strengthening women's participation in making Nigeria an entrepreneurial economy. …

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