New Women's Organizations in Nigeria: One Response to Structural Adjustment
Lillian Trager and Clara Osinulu
The severity of economic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa during the 1980s is well known. Many African governments have adopted stabilization and structural adjustment programs in an effort to remove distorted "macro prices" and invigorate their stagnating economies. In the short term, however, some of the policies adopted have worsened conditions for some of the most vulnerable groups in the populations of these countries, particularly women, children, and the poor. While effects on specific groups are still in the process of being determined, there is increasing concern among governments and international agencies to find ways to address the continuing crisis and to both alleviate some of the negative short-term impacts and ensure that long-term benefits reach the poor and vulnerable as well as other groups in the population ( Serageldin 1989). For example, the World Bank has recently begun the Social Dimensions of Adjustment (SDA) projects "to ensure that the needs of the poor and most vulnerable will be given primary consideration from the very outset of the adjustment process" ( Jaycox 1989:39). To date, however, it is uncertain whether SDA projects can fill the gap in social services left by government cutbacks.
Lillian Trager is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin- Parkside. She specializes in the study of marketing systems, the informal economy, and rural-urban linkages in West Africa and the Philippines. From 1985 to 1987 she was assistant representative and program officer for the Ford Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria. Her publications include The City Connection: Migration and Family Interdependence in the Philippines.
Clara Osinulu is director of the African American Institute in Nigeria. She was trained as an anthropologist at University College, London, and University of Birmingham Centre for West African Studies, where she focused on the changing status of African women. She is currently a member of the Central Committee on Better Life for Rural Women in Lagos State. Among her publications are "The Changing Status of African Women," "Voter Education for Nigerian Rural Women," and "Religion and Status of Nigerian Women" in Women and Development.