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PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER ON EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN IN ENUGU EAST L.G.A, ENUGU STATE NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background of the Study

In a masculine dominated society, women’s right has been misunderstood because of cultural, customary practices and beliefs which encouraged discrimination against women. Relying on traditional gender roles and child care responsibilities, some employers assume that female employee is less dependable than male employee. The idea of equality of sexes in employment is foreign to Nigerian native law and custom. Most entrepreneurs believe that females are inferior to their male counterpart and incompatible with a fast-paced business environment. Discrimination against women in places of work in Nigeria is so visible; this is primarily because of the high level of illiteracy and lack of skills among women compared to men.

Promoting decent productive employment and income opportunities equally for women and men is one of the key priorities of various governments across the world. Integrating gender concerns into employment and promotion can contribute to more effective boosting of productivity and economic growth; human resources development; sustainable development; and reducing poverty (ILO, 2018).

Gender differences in access to economic opportunities are frequently debated in relation to gender differences in labor market participation.

According to business dictionary (2018), gender is defined as the culturally and socially constructed differences between men and women that vary from place to place and time to time. The term “gender” refers to economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female.

According to 2006 national population and housing census, Nigeria’s population was 140.4 million (FGN, 2009). Women constitute about 49% of this population in Nigerian State and are known to play vital roles as mothers, producers, managers, community developers/organizers etc. Their contribution to the social and economic development of societies is also more than half as compared to that of men by virtue of their dual roles in the productive and reproductive spheres.  Okonjo (2017) argues that greater management of household resources by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers shows that if given opportunities to occupy top positions, they can enhance growth by spending in ways that benefit the society. Research evidence have shown that women don’t earn as much as men and the average salary of women is 72% to 88% of men, even with variables such as education, age, position and job tenure considered (Waisman & Larsen, 2008). We can assert that male/female equality according to Marxist theory is the involvement of women in production outside home.

Employment is one source of empowerment for women, given that it enables them exercise control over their own income and by extension their lives. Employment is one source of empowerment for women but unfortunately it is difficult to measure their employment status because the informal sectors are not reported. However, the data on hand indicates, for instance, that women and men currently employed in the North West are 46 and 54 percent respectively. Also, the employment rate of men to women in urban area is ratio 42:37 while the employment ratio of men to women in the rural area is 63:58.
In recent times, there has been a great deal of concern about the discrimination in the labour market based on gender considerations. Specifically, several practices, beliefs and stereotypes are held against the female gender as regards their suitability for certain jobs, eventual employment and advancement on the job. It is extremely difficult in some societies for women to go beyond a particular level in their chosen careers. Some jobs are perceived as the exclusive preserve of the male gender, while women are taken to be the weaker sex and therefore, should be employed in those areas where their weakness can be managed or tolerated. Even in the face of modernization, most people still hold on to the view that the woman’s place should be in the kitchen and therefore it is non-traditional for women to engage in paid jobs outside the home. The implication of these is that the rate at which women participate in the labour force is dictated by societal norms and stereotypes. The participation of the females in the labour force of Nigeria is still considered relatively low. The low participation rate may be because the males most of the time constitute the main employers of labour. This in turn gives them the opportunity to express their feelings and attitude towards the employment of the female gender, Effa (1995) findings support this notion. 75percent of male employers prefer employing the males to the females. The study goes further to suggest that the males are preferred to their female counterparts because the former are presumed more likely to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency. Other reasons being given include the number of times the female is likely to absent herself from work due to sickness, maternity leave, childcare and other domestic issues. An important question then arises, should the female gender be denied employment in the labour market and thereby reducing the participation in the labour market because of their natural/traditional roles as mothers and home makers which society has assigned to them?

However, despite some progress over the last few decades, gender equality in employment remains an elusive goal in all societies. Women continue to face certain problems and discrimination in all areas of economic life. The government of many developing countries in the last decade has focused on issues relating to gender disparity and this disparity was found in work places. In Nigeria today, the idea of equality of sexes in different places of work is foreign to Nigerian native law and customs. Discrimination against women in employment in Nigeria is so visible, primarily due to the high level of illiteracy and lack of skills among women compared to men. In fact, the country ranks 118 of 134 countries in the Gender Equality Index.Even when they are represented, they are discriminated against. No wonder the government has put a law that in every sector of work/employment, women should take at least 30% (Oakley 2000). Even with this, there are rarely any organizations that women have such, except in some professions that are considered feminine, which include nursing, teaching etc. Relying on traditional gender roles and child care responsibilities, some employers assume that a female employee is less dependable than a male employee. Most entrepreneurs believe that females are inferior to their male counterpart and incompatible with a fast-paced business environment.  This has led to series of discriminatory activities against women which comes in diverse forms such as direct gender discrimination which occurs when women are treated differently at work and an example includes disparity in salary based on gender.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

It is against this background that this study intends to examine the influence of gender on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East local government area. Despite some progress made over the last few decades in increasing women’s participation in the work force and narrowing gender gaps in wages, gender equality in the labour market still remains an elusive goal. While millions of women have become successful entrepreneurs, women are still grossly underrepresented in the boardroom of companies across the world. Particularly, in the developing world, women continue to form a large majority of the world’s working poor, earn less income, and are more often affected by long-term unemployment than men. This is due to women’s socio-economic disadvantages caused by gender-based discrimination and their double roles of being a worker and a care taker of the home. Olawoye (1995) describes Nigerian women as a crucial factor in production. According to her, they are largely responsible for the bulk production of crops, agro-based food processing, preservation of crops and distribution of yields from farm centres to market in both rural and urban areas. Nigerian women are contributing their quota to the development of the nation, but their potentials seem not to have been fully tapped due to some constraints. Disparities still exist between men and women in education, employment and income opportunities, control over assets, personal security and participation in the development process (Rahman & Naoroze, 2007). This may be as a result of lingering constraints including poor economic condition of Nigerian women, lack of adequate legislation and policies to support the rights of women, unequal access to education, limited access to land, lack of assertiveness among women etc.

Furthermore, women continue to embark on many unpaid care jobs, which has become an increasing challenge in their efforts to engage in productive work. Thus this study intends to find the influence of gender on employment opportunities for women Enugu East Local Government Area.

 

1.3   Research Questions

As a result of the problems mentioned above, this study seeks to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the pattern of gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area?
  2. What are the factors responsible for gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area?
  3. What are the consequences of gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area?
  4. How can gender discrimination relating to employment opportunities for women be reduced in Enugu East Local Government Area?

 

1.4   Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this research is to determine the influence of gender in employment opportunities for women, with special preference to the people of Enugu East local government Nigeria. The specific objectives include the following:

  1. To find out the pattern of gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area.
  2. To examine the factors responsible for gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area.
  3. To examine the consequences of gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women in Enugu East Local Government Area.
  4. To find out how gender discrimination on employment opportunities for women can be reduced in Enugu Local Government Area.

 

1.5   Significance of the Study

The study will have both theoretical and practical significance. The theoretical aspect of the significance of the study is that subsequent researchers may find this study as a foundation for further research on the influence on gender on employment opportunities for women. This research will be of immense importance to a large number of people ranging from the researcher to the government and various nongovernmental organisations.

Practically, the study will provide useful information that will shade more light on the difficulties encountered by women in the area of employment opportunities and proffer possible solutions to the government on how best to solve it.

The research work is of importance to the researcher as it is a basic requirement for the award of a university Bachelor of Science degree. Finally, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) may find this research and its recommendation very useful in protecting the rights of women in respect to securing employments.

1.6   Definition of Terms

Discrimination:Distinct treatment of an individual or group to their disadvantage; treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit.

Employer:A person who pays for or hires the services of another person.

Employee:A person who provides services to a company or another person, in return for salary or wages.

Employment:- The work or occupation for which one is used and often paid

Employment Discrimination:- This generally

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