Development, Micro-credit and Women's Empowerment: A Case Study of Market and Rural Women in Southern Nigeria
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study investigates women's economic empowerment in relation to micro'credit schemes in southern Nigeria. The study also evaluates the benefits and limitations of micro'credit as a resourceful means of enhancing women's economic activities in the labour market and eliminating poverty among market and rural women. Micro'credit schemes and institutions which provide soft loans to women have become a critical tool in development programmes aiming to empower them. The Nigerian government (both at Federal and State levels) has pursued this development trend since 1985 and today, it is estimated that an increasing number of Nigerian women participate in these schemes. Besides, it is widely accepted among development practitioners that micro'credit schemes not only contribute to poverty reduction but also empower the have'nots. My research design has drawn on gender analytical frameworks such as the 1980 Harvard Analytical Framework, Kabeer's 1998 Women's Empowerment Assessment, and Mayoux' 2001 micro'credit empowerment paradigm. This study employed as its methodology, ethnographic field research. This includes semi'structured interviews and participant observation. In addition, data was obtained from state databases, archives and development websites. Throughout, both qualitative and quantitative methods and analysis were used. This study found that women in southern Nigeria are extensively engaged in economic activities. It also established that micro'credit provides finance to enhance market and rural women's participation in production and trade. The study further ascertains that women have some control over their loans. However, increased economic activities may have also increased participants' financial responsibilities and household decision'making is still a prerogative of male head of the family. In addition, this study found that older married women in this region enjoy a comparatively high degree of personal mobility, but restrictions on travel in terms of distance and time are very common for younger married women. These restrictions are sanctioned by customs, household obligations, and social infrastructures. While problems with the transportation network have enhanced the middlemen's domination of economic activities in this region they increased women's dependence on their services. All this renders empowerment for women more difficult to achieve although it makes a practical contribution to their everyday lives.