Gender Issues in Well-Being of Yoruba Retirees in Osun State, Nigeria

By Adisa, Ademola Lateef | Gender & Behaviour, June 2009 | Go to article overview

Gender Issues in Well-Being of Yoruba Retirees in Osun State, Nigeria


Adisa, Ademola Lateef, Gender & Behaviour


The problem of well-being and non-utilisation of retirees in the socio-economic development of Nigeria generally, is mainly a result of dearth of indigenous research works, especially on gender issues. Retirees have always been assumed to be homogeneous, both in experiences and needs and recommendations from such works have been deficient. This study, therefore, had two objectives: one, to appraise the influence of cultural beliefs and practices in gender relations on well-being of Yoruba retirees in Osun State and two, to provide data which would stimulate further research on the potential use of retirees for developmental purpose instead of remaining as dependants for the rest of life. The study relied on primary data obtained from 954 retirees through the use of semi-structured questionnaire. Findings revealed areas of similarity and divergence of needs among the retirees and the conclusion that is drawn is that the gender-based work policy on expectation of needs is useful only when it promotes equity between males and females.

James Morris, a member of the British expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary, which successfully climbed Mount Everest, has lived in two worlds; both of males and of females. He underwent a sex-change operation to become a woman and addressed as Jan Morris thereafter. Giddens (1994) presented a part of Morris' narratives of the different experiences of the two worlds as follows:

We are told that the social gap between sexes is narrowing, but I can only report that having, in the second half of the twentieth century, experienced life in both roles (male and female), there seems to me no aspect of existence, no moment of the day, no contact, no arrangement, no response, which is not different for men and women ................ (Morris, 1974).

Although that was a single person's account of life's experience, and in a different locality from Nigeria, but it is capable of arousing research interest into what culture weaves around the biological or anatomical difference of sex. Other factors which triggered this research are discussed below.

Hagestad and Neugarten (1985) submitted that individual retirement experiences and adaptation to retirement should be viewed as outcomes of earlier experiences in various life spheres. If the experiences of Morris hold for many, and even at work places, it was deemed important to examine the cumulative effects of the varying experiences on the later life of Yoruba retirees in Osun State.

It has also been observed that generally, Nigeria is not taking advantage of her teeming population. Nigeria is one of the most populous countries of the world, only rating behind China, India, United States of America, Russia, Indonesia and Pakistan (Population Reference Bureau, August 2002), but in terms of economic viability, cannot be compared to any of them. Even as it is not an attempt to castigate, the religious practice of keeping women in purdah (Muslim women perpetually kept away from working), which is common in the northern part of Nigeria, results in loss of human resource. The country is denied of effective use of brilliant ones among the women. Where there is opportunity, some women have excelled in their chosen careers. Women such as Helen Sirleaf, Liberian President Minister, late Benizar Bhutto of Pakistan, might have been discovered among them. The retirees in Nigeria, with their potentials to contribute to the national economy, constitute another group of untapped brains. The retirees in the contemporary Nigeria are no more the used or spent individuals which many of them usually were, when opportunity to work till the expiration of statutory age existed. The composition of the retirees in terms of age, virility, resourcefulness and sex began to change as from 1975, when the country experienced the first national workers' purge. The present crop of retirees is a mix of old and young, mostly secondaryemployment thirsty individuals. …

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