Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



A Note on Economic Activity of Women in Nigeria

The aim of this article is to investigate some of the factors explaining the economic activity of women in Nigeria, in particular, to examine the question of whether urbanisation is likely to lead to a “marginalisation” of Women in Nigeria. Such a question would not normally be asked in most developing countries because, since recorded female labour force participation is low in the rural areas of most countries, it could be expected that urbanisation would be associated with rising levels of female activity. However, a different situation exists in sub-Saharan Africa with female participation in the rural economy being strikingly high.1 This is associated with a traditional division of labour which allocates prominent roles to women in subsistence agriculture and often in trading activities. This tradition is partly explained by the need for men to travel long distances to hunt or, in this century, increasingly to find wage earning activity. The present study is based on a survey carried out by the Human Resources Research Unit of the University of Lagos in 1973 and 1974. It covered a sample of 2,700 women aged 20 and over drawn from four areas of Nigeria. It is admitted at the very outset that conceptual deficiencies in the survey appear to have led to an understatement of labour force participation in rural areas, making the analysis somewhat questionable.

Glen Sheehan, Guy Standing

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