Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Issues in Urban Indigenous Communities in Nigeria: Evidence from Port Harcourt

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Issues in Urban Indigenous Communities in Nigeria: Evidence from Port Harcourt

Article excerpt

Abstract

Urban indigenous people's way of life and their socioeconomic conditions have not attracted much attention in urban community studies despite the fact that they constitute an important segment of the urban population. Similarly, the manners in which urban indigenous women are subordinated to men in the patriarchal family structure and the attendant urban economic relations fostered by men deserve to be examined. This paper therefore attempts to examine gender issues in five indigenous communities in Port Harcourt. The communities are: Abuloma, Oroazi, Rumuadaolu, Elekahia and Ogbuna-abali. The key questions explored in the study are: how are urban indigenous women been marginalized in the process of urban growth and what urban role had been feminized? Focus Group Discussion (FDG) was used to elicit information from the women in these communities. The study revealed that the integration of indigenous communities into urban growth center redefine women agricultural role and created a new economic relation in which women constitute a large segment of people in the informal sector. The study also revealed that government urban renewal policy in the indigenous communities has not been gender sensitive. Based on these findings it is recommended that gender sensitive approach be adopted in urban planning.

Introduction

There has been increasing urbanization with some urban centers growing into mega cities. This phenomenon has enveloped most communities and integrated them into urban systems of relations in economics, politics, culture, and communication. Gogò and Patrick (2006) argued that the increasing urbanization process has accentuated systematic disarticulation, socio-economic dislocation and disconnection of the indigenous people from their traditional ways of life. These disarticulation and social disconnection in the urban indigenous settlements create diverse gender issues among which according to Borja and Castells (2003), results in the feminization of certain task contrary to natural laws and what is obtainable in rural setting.

Until very recently, women and gender relations have been virtually ignored in urbanization process particularly in the indigenous settlements. What has been the focus of scholars and policy analysts have been gender issues in rural communities and related gender issues in politics, cultural praxis, occupation, education and so on (Oruwari, 1999; Bergeron, 2004; OkoosiSimbine, 2006; and Odekunle 2008). It is difficult to genuinely appreciate the gender biases in the urbanization process in the indigenous settlements as urban indigenous men and women are in the trajectory of development. Development has some externality effects which may be short run or long run and may unevenly affect both sexes. According to Appiah-Donyina (2002) adopting gender focus to development issues is as a result of the realization of the fact that women often do not appropriate development tangibles and in most cases are victims of development process through discrimination and marginalization as well as the fact that women's role in the society cannot be wished away. Urbanization processes of urban indigenous settlements are not without their own attendant gender issues because of the poor gender approach and diverse gender roles the processes seek to accentuate. Urban indigenous settlements in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Jos, Calabar, and other urban centers in Nigeria are trapped in the trajectory of development resulting in several gender issues. This paper therefore examines how urbanization process accentuates gender issues in the indigenous settlements in Port Harcourt.

Following this introduction, the first substantive section of the paper provides the theoretical insight into the nexus of the crisis of development in urban indigenous settlements. The second section of the paper entails the methodology adopted for this study; the third section of the paper is the discussion of the findings showing evidence of gender issues in urban indigenous communities in Port Harcourt. …

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