Background of the Study
Community development is a broad term given to the practices of civic activities that involves citizens and professionals to build stronger and more resilient local communities. Community development as an effort is geared towards achieving the solution to community problems, raising the peoples’ standard, welfare, justice, community cohesion and human resources to the fullest (Ezeh, 1999). According to Indabawa and Mpotu (2006) community development involves qualitative and quantitative transformation of people, their environment, values and social processes. This implies that for any meaningful development to take place, both men and women must participate actively for the goals and objectives to be realized. Thus, the assumptions behind community development is that everyone has something to contribute to the welfare of a community. From this assumption, it becomes pertinent that women who constitutes a significant proportion of Nigeria’s population need to work and contribute actively towards the improving the living standard of their community.
Women have played important social, economic, political and cultural roles in the development of their communities. Thus, they are found useful in every sphere of life and their roles are not limited to child bearing and home management. Their domestic activities virtually help the economy to enhance community development (Olatokun&Ayanbode, 2008). Women form an indispensable part of human resource for development. Without their contributions the economy cannot be maintained at its present level let alone having any development progress arising thereof (UNESCO, 2002). Women make essential contributions to the agricultural and rural economic development in all developing countries. Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural crops or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, engaging in trade and marketing, caring for family members and maintaining their homes (Doss, 2011). Because of these important roles, women need to be constantly mobilized for sustainable community development.
Mobilization denotes a process whereby people are prepared psychologically, mentally and attitudinally for change (Abiona, 2006). He further noted that mobilization is a movement designed to galvanize people for action towards development. Mobilization is very vital in activating people towards development activities. In this study, mobilization will be regarded as a process through which the rural women are sensitized and/or strengthened to take active part in the development of their community. In this regard, people who are mobilize d(rural women) must be convinced about the objectives for which they are being mobilized to participate in community development activities. Thus, mobilization of rural women is very important in community development because it helps them to come together as a driving force for the achievement of any stated development goal.
In the past, mobilization pattern adopted in the traditional Abia community that predate the modern ones was guided by some factors among which are community structure and ethno linguistic factor. Community structure refers to the internal social organizations of communities and organized relationship among members of a community (Oduaran, 1994). It also consisted of a forge-head that is the traditional leaders, assistants, age-grade system and elder’s council. According to Omoruyi (2001) ethno linguistic factor are those interactions between religion and ethnicity that helps in the management of ethnic conflict and a very important correlation of success in mobilizing people for community development. This mobilization strategy seems inadequate as it fails to recognize the importance of women participation and/or contributions in community development activities.
From the researcher’s observation, it seems that the rural women in Abia Central have not been adequately and effectively mobilized for community development activities. This is because traditionally, the image of women has been that of a wife and mother. Their duties have been to serve and care for the man and this has affected their participation in community development. Pant (2004) asserted that globally, out of an estimated 1.2 billion people who are poor, over two-thirds are women. He also noted that women face abject poverty in want of adequate food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare. They lack access to land and inheritance. Ifenkwe and Kalu (2012) also noted that over 60 percent of the rural women in Abia State communities are poor. From the above, it is obvious that women in Abia central senatorial zone of Abia State cannot be left out from the ugly situation of being relegated to the background in terms of decision making, planning, implementation and evaluation of community development projects, and this could be demoralizing to women.
Consequently, mobilization of rural women is very important if the goals of community development are to be realized. Uwaka (1995) observed that if any group in Nigeria requires to be mobilized, the rural women stand out as the major group because they constitute a formidable percentage of the workforce. They have been subdued by male manipulated and male dominated culture, and are saddled with many responsibilities like child bearing and nurturing as well as other home affairs (Yahya, 2008). Thus, it has been observed that community development programmes fail most of the times because women have not been adequately mobilized. This problem of inadequate mobilization of women for community development stem from the fact that the providers (government/Non-governmental Organizations) claim to know what the women want and how to give it to them without assessing their felt needs (Ogonu, 2010). This is why Ibe (2008) noted that one of the basic principles of community development is that the agency with the cooperation of the people must identify their felt needs through the use of appropriate mobilization strategies.
Strategies as perceived by Ojike (2003) is an art or science of developing and employing the economic, political, psychological and other pioneers of a nation to accomplish set objectives. In this study, strategies refers to those plan designed to obtain the active participation of women towards the achievement of community development programmes. In Nigeria, it seems that many projects/programmes geared towards the development of women failed largely due to inadequate mobilization of women. Most often than not, they are abandoned due to inadequate participation of women. Examples of such programmes includes; the Better Life Programme for Rural Women (BLP), Family Support Programme (FSP), Women in Nigeria (WIN) etc. Failure/abandonment of these noble developmental programmes showed that the strategies adopted for mobilizing rural women were not effective. According to Chukwuezi (2000) the Better Life Programme and Family Support Programme adopted elitist strategy whereby main developmental issues, policies and decisions were decided by only few elite women even though such developmental programme were meant for rural women.
More so, the adoption of top-bottom strategies in mobilizing rural women for community development has not yielded any positive result. Top-bottom strategy are those mobilization strategies whereby few wealthy and connected people take active part in deciding initiatives, policies and/or programmes for the rural women (Omoruyi, 2001). Thus, the use of these strategies has resulted in the non-realization of community development goals and objectives as the intended beneficiaries or participants are not actively mobilized. Anyanwu (1992) opined that the failure of mobilizing the rural women are caused by many factors which includes; ignorance of their felt needs, unwillingness to change old habits, extreme poverty of women which may militate against their wish to induce change. Obi (2000) confirmed that the reason for non-achievement of goals by government on many programmes that have been executed for women, for instance BLP for rural women, was because it was too elitist at the implementation stage even though the programme was initiated specifically to uplift the standards of rural women and to eventually stimulate development in the rural areas.
Unfortunately, the goals of the programmes were not completely achieved because the economic and social activities relating to the programme were conducted in the state and federal capital territory Abuja. Consequently, the programme became too amorphous for rural women to adequately comprehend and keep pace with as it was too elitist in its implementation (Obi, 2000). This shows that the rural women were inadequately mobilized to participate actively in community development programmes. Their inability to participate in community development programmes/projects was also due to many social/cultural barriers amongst which are; inability to own land and/other parental inheritance, discriminations and marginalization by their male counterparts in community affairs. Consequently, most rural women in Nigeria (Abia Central Senatorial zone) are poor and illiterate (Azikiwe, 1992).
The case of BLP shows that the level of literacy is an important factor to be considered in the mobilization of women. In this study, literate women refers to people that can read and write while illiterate or non-literate are those women that cannot read and write. The reality of rural women in Abia central is that they are vulnerable marginalized group. They are yet to enjoy equity in status and access to community services through mobilization with their male counterpart. Women are adversely affected by some negative cultural practices and norms which were often used to intimidate and assign passive roles to them without any moral justification (Azikiwe, 1992). This was further confirmed by Nwani (2009) who noted that most rural women in Abia Central are still living in poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and are tradition bound as they are not involved in community development planning and execution. Thus, rural women seem not adequately mobilized to take active part in the development of their community. Therefore, there is need to utilize effective strategies for mobilizing them for community development activities.
However, if women are not adequately mobilized for community development activities, it is therefore the duty of community development animators/change agents or implementers to devise strategies for mobilizing them. Udemezue (2000) buttressed the need to mobilize Nigerian women to take up their rightful place in national community development projects. He further stated that mobilization is not just providing information rather, it also involves providing structures and facilities which will ensure that mobilization is actually achieved. There are effective strategies through which the government and non-governmental organizations can use in mobilizing rural women for community development. According to Omoruyi (2001) these strategies include communication (mass media), women associations and functional literacy education. These strategies have been found effective because it has helped foster the active participation of women in community development, raising their aspirations towards achieving women education and has also helped them to acquire basic literacy skills of reading and writing with which to improve in their various business undertakings.
Communication is one of the strategies for mobilizing women for community development. Hence, media communication refers to all technologically organized form of social communication in both urban and rural areas which include; information communication technology (ICT), television, cinema/films, newspaper, magazines, posters, handbills, billboards, books etc and traditional mode of communication like cultural dance, drama, festivals, storytelling, drums etc. Indeed, the role of communication in enhancing community development cannot be over-emphasized. Ogolo (1996) reported that if community development programmes must succeed, the complexity and intricacy of programme must be conveyed to the people. Effective communication is an essential tool for the establishment and maintenance of good social relationship in community development. According to Oduaran (1994) modern community development requires the blending of both the traditional (drama, festival, cultural dance, etc) and modern media communication (internet, television, radio, posters, handbills etc) for the purpose of mobilizing rural women for community development. Osuala (1995) opined that mass mobilization is bound to be more effective if it adopts traditional methods like drama, festival, cultural dance, wrestling etc to which the rural people are familiar with and which are therefore culturally relevant. Community development depends very heavily on communication. Group effectiveness is always improved where members have clear understanding of how they are expected to behave as members of their group.
Effective community development permits members to seek for opinion of others at all times and this enhances participation of all towards the goal structure of the group. The purpose of communication may not just be mere sake of information exchange, but to educate with a view to raising the aspirations of women in the right direction, generating among them the willingness to improve their condition, motivating them for group action, guiding and directing their activities to a successful end (Moemeka, 1990).
Women association is also one of the strongest strategies used in mobilizing rural women for community development. The women’s groups are organized in form of community-based organization (CBO’s) and cooperatives. Ochendo (2004) stated that one of the effective ways of mobilizing women is to create awareness among various women associations and organizations. Women organizations are active agents of development. They help in organizing women in various activities for the welfare of their members and communities and also organize peaceful relationship among warring communities for better development since majority of the women are low income earners. Omeje (2004) revealed that most of these women’s groups are made up of women who came together to help themselves out of poverty by collectively pursuing economic interest, empowering their members through training in basic literacy education, small scale business and financial management. According to Ugwu (1992), women as mothers of the home and philanthropic group have played important roles in the education and socialization of their children, in caring for the less unfortunate members of the society. They also teach new methods of managing homes, training of the body, environmental cleanliness and also contribute to the physical development of the society at large. Women associations are influential in organizing community development projects in many Nigerian societies. They organize launching activities which have yielded money for building infrastructures like markets, maternity homes, halls/civic centers etc. There are also many women association with specific economic function which focuses mainly on lending money (popularly known as Isusu) to members which has contributed to assisting them economically for development projects.
Functional literacy education is another strategy used in mobilizing rural women for community development. Functional literacy education is an approach to the teaching of literacy in which literacy programmes are integrated with economic, vocational, technical and occupational skills of recipients (Ibeh, 2008). The primary purpose of functional literacy education is for the recipients of the literacy education to acquire economic skills, social and occupational skill simultaneously with reading and writing skills (Obi, 2006). From the above statement, functional literacy education enhances women’s participation in community development. It enables women to obtain the relevant life skills that will help them earn a living and also contribute towards the development of their different communities. Thus, functional literacy education remains one of the essential strategy for mobilizing rural women for community development. It raises the awareness, commitment and economic potentials of its recipient thereby mobilizing them to participate actively towards the development of their communities.
Assessment of the extent of utilization of these strategies for mobilizing rural women for community development cannot be over-emphasized. Assessment according to Okoro (1991) is an appraisal of situations and problems and using it in making appropriate decision. It also involves the collection of data, judging the worth of the issue under study and the use of such data to map out course of action towards enhancement of the issue. Okoro went further to explain that information from assessment is used for decision-making and improvement. It also helps to ensure consistency in the interpretation of both progress and achievement of any programme. Hence, the need to find out the extent of utilization of communication strategy, women association and functional literacy education as effective strategies for mobilizing women for community development activities.
Statement of the Problem
The success of any community development mobilization strategy depends on the extent to which the beneficiaries of such development have participated in bringing about the development of their communities. From the background, it is evident that some of the strategies adopted in mobilizing women for community development are community structures (traditional leaders, elder’s council and the age grade associations). These strategies seem not be quite effective in mobilizing rural women for community development because women participation has not been adequately galvanized towards the development of their communities.
There are other strategies that seem to be more effective but the extent of its utilization in the area of study seems not to be known. These strategies include communication, women associations and functional literacy education. According to Ezeh, (2003) these strategies have been found effective because it has helped to foster the active participation of women in community development, raising their aspirations towards achieving women education and has also helped them to acquire basic literacy skills of reading and writing with which to improve in their various business undertakings. Having found these strategies effective as observed by Ezeh, it is therefore the problem of the study to ascertain the extent to which the effective strategies are been utilized in mobilizing rural women for community development in Abia Central Senatorial Zone of Abia State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to assess the extent of utilization of effective strategies for mobilizing rural women for community development. Specifically, the study seeks to find out:
- The extent of utilization of communication strategy for mobilization of rural women for community development.
- The extent of utilization of women associations for mobilization of rural women for community development.
- The extent of utilization of functional literacy education for mobilization of rural women for community development.
Significance of the Study
The findings of the study will be of importance to adult educators, government agencies and NGOs, policy makers, women, researchers and the general public.
The findings from this study will provide adult educators with useful information on various strategies to be adopted for mobilizing women for community development in their various localities. It will reveal to them the importance of communication, women associations and functional literacy education as strategies for mobilizing women for community development activities. It will also equip them with useful data on how to mobilize women in various community development programmes.
The study will be of immense benefit to governmental agencies as well as non-governmental agencies. It will provide them with useful information and database about the conditions of rural women, the need to mobilize them for community development and the effective strategies to be adopted in mobilizing their active participation for community development. This useful information and database will therefore, enable them to plan as well as implement effective strategies in mobilizing women for community development activities.
The findings from this study will provide policy makers with useful information on how to plan as well as budget adequate fund towards improving the living standard of women. It will also reveal to them the need to mobilize them to participate actively in community development.
The findings of the study will also be useful to women (rural women) because, it will expose them to various strategies which they could adopt in their various associations/organizations to effectively mobilize themselves for community development projects. Information in this study will serve as a mobilization guides to women during the implementation of community development projects.
Researchers that may be interested in carrying out further research study in related area of this study will find the study useful. The study will provide the necessary materials that could help the researchers to accomplish their given task because it will add to the existing literature on mobilization of women for community development.
Finally, the general public will find the study useful when it is published in the school libraries because the recommendations of the study if implemented will help in solving the problems of women not participating actively in community development projects.
- What is the extent of utilization of communication strategy for the mobilization of rural women?
- What is the extent of utilization of women association in the mobilization of rural women?
- What is the extent of utilization of functional education in the mobilization of rural women?
The following hypotheses were formulated at 0.05 level of significance to guide the study:
There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of literate and non-literate women on the extent of utilization of communication strategy in mobilizing rural women for community development.
There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of literate and non-literate women on the extent of utilization of women association in mobilizing rural women for community development.
There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of literate and non-literate women on the extent of utilization of functional education in mobilizing rural women for community development.
Scope of the Study
The present study covers the extent of utilization of effective strategies for mobilizing rural women for community development in Abia Central Senatorial Zone of Abia State. Specifically, this study focused on the extent of utilization of communication strategy, women associations and functional literacy education in mobilizing rural women for community d