Academic journal article Researchers World

Imposition of Tax on Women and Its Impact in Esan Land in Colonial Nigeria

Academic journal article Researchers World

Imposition of Tax on Women and Its Impact in Esan Land in Colonial Nigeria

Article excerpt


One of the major themes in the field of development studies is the role that women play in development. The issues of the role that women have played in development, how they could contribute to sustainable development and benefit maximally from development agendas and programmes have been major focus of the United Nations (UN) since its inception. This world body even has a flagship publication on the role of women in development, which is presented to the second committee of the General Assembly at five-year intervals (UN, 2015). Moreover, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) gave priority to women issues. Specifically, Goal 3 of the MDGs is to promote gender equality and empower women. The target is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education in particular and in all levels of education in general by the year 2015. Ultimately, the overall objective is to empower women in order to enhance their contributions and benefits from development programmes all over the world (UNDP, 2013).

In Nigeria, discourse and debates on the role of women in national development dates back to 1980s, when concerted efforts were made to establish the fact that women have contributed to national development and could significantly contribute to the development of the nation if given more opportunities (Akande, 1987:1). Nina Emma Mba's Nigerian Women Mobilized: Women's Political Activities in Southern Nigeria, 1900-1965, was a major publication in this regard. Its focus was on the political activities of Southern Nigerian women between 1900 and 1965 (Mba, 1982). Other books that have been published on the role of Nigerian women in development include: Imam's Women in Nigeria Today published in 1985; Dhizea and Njoku's Nigerian Women and the Challenges of our time, published in 1991; Uchendu's Education and the Changing Economic Role of Nigerian Women, published in 1995; Osinulu and Mba's edited work titled Nigerian Women in Politics: 1986-1993, published in 1996 and Ogbomo's When Men and Women Mattered: A History of Gender Relations Among the Owan of Nigeria, published in 1997 (Imam, 1985; Dhizea and Njoku, 1991; Uchendu, 1995; Osinulu and Mba, 1996; Ogbomo, 1997).

With regard to Esanland, it was only recently that deliberate and co-ordinated efforts to document and underscore the role of women in society and development began. The idea has been to document the role of women in the development of Esanland in particular and the nation in general. The objective is to canvass that since women have contributed to the development of the area they should be given more opportunities to contribute their quota to development at the local and national levels. This paper is another effort in that direction.

Esanland is located in Edo State, Nigeria. It is a culture and a language group that currently occupies the five local government areas that constitute the Central Senatorial District of the state. The local government councils are: Esan West, Esan- Central, Esan North-East, Esan North-West and Igueben (Ukhun and Inegbedion, 2005). The land, the language and the people are known as Esan. Esanland was a Division of Benin Province in the colonial period. It was then called "Ishan" Division. Ishan was used for the area due to the inability of the colonial officials to pronounce the original name correctly (Okoduwa, 1997: 129). Up to the colonial period, Esan society was gendered along sex lines. Sex was the basis of role allocation, opportunities, rights and privileges. It was a patriarchal society in which male supremacy was not only acknowledged but accepted as a "fait accompli" by the women. Notwithstanding their significant role in the pre-colonial economy of the area, in public affairs, women were to be seen and not to be heard (Unumen, 1988: 5).

Taxation has been defined as the imposition or assessment of a tax. It is the means by which the state obtains the revenue required for its operations, including providing the public with the necessary goods and services as well as pay government workers' salaries. …

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