Role of Cooperative Societies in Women Empowerment and Rural Development

Role of Cooperative Societies in Women Empowerment and Rural Development (A Case Study Of Selected Women Cooperative Socities In Idemili North Local Government Area Anambra State)

The importance of this chapter is to get some definitions of the subject under study from different authors. However, it is also very important to look critically at some prominent literature that have relevance to this study. As a result, this chapter is divided into different subheadings.

An entrepreneur is a person or individual or any healthy person who has the ability to create something with values and be devoting the necessary time and effort to see that he achieved his aim. According to Nwachukwu C (1990), An entrepreneur is a typical risk taker, a business man who brave uncertainty, strives out to duty and singleness of purpose, somehow, create a business and industries where none existed before.

The committee for entrepreneurship development (1993) states that for one to qualify as an entrepreneur he must possess at least three of the following.

  1. He must be a person who perceives business opportunities and takes advantages of the scarce resources to use them.
  2. He must be someone who bears the non-insurable risk of the enterprise.

iii. He must be someone who directs the human and material resources in the business objectives.

Material resources in the business objective, finally according to stone J. creates business applies by all the factors of production in an effort to start and operate a business with the view to make profit.

2.1 Women And Development In Nigeria

Women have been marketed by the outstanding contributions to the development of the nation. They have stayed too long in the background contributing significantly and insignificantly to national development.

In a country like our Nigeria, women form the  extremely significant part of the population. Any development strategy that ignores or fails to maximiaz3e their contributions will be failing to mobilize the full development and growth of the country.

In address during a seminar on women empowerment and development by Miran Babangida 1987 state that the commission on the June 21,1986 and other limited nations system sought to encourage and assist government to give women equal opportunities as political economic, social, civil, legal and other field. The United Nations treaty of 1952 joined members’ states to ensure that women hold public offices and exercise all public function on equal terms with men. Thereby elimination of all forms of discrimination against women was adopted on December 18, 1979 by the United Nations but was forceful on September 3, 1980s.

Also Read: The Impact of Cooperative Society in Empowerment of Rural Women

Based on the implementation of the above, women particularly Nigeria women woke up from slumber and positively participated in the development of the nation’s economy. This is to say that Nigeria women in their own capacity as business entrepreneurs have contributed positively to the development of Nigeria. For instance, many more Nigeria women are involved in vocation like Aviation, Engineering, pilot, media house and recently the Nigeria union of journalist was formed. You need to see what these intelligent women are doing at media house either as camera women, news casters and writers just to mention a few. Some Nigeria women are accountants and managers. One of the greatest innovation of the recent time has rural dweller programme initiated by Mirian Babangida. She also make thus revelation in her report, states including Abuja show that such infrastructure like rural health clinic, pipe borne water, electricity and cottage industries has spring in village under the being aimed and encouraged by better life programme to pool their resources together for common goal. This programme help in no small measure for report 1984 noted that it is not easy to define empowerment by its absence but difficult to define in action as it takes on difficult form in different people and contexts. Even defining the concepts is subject to debate. Zimmerman 1984 has stated that asserting a single definition of empowerment many make attempts to achieve it formular or prescription like, contradicting the very concept of empowerment. Empowerment is a mutilated multidimensional and multi layered concept.

Empowerment means giving legal and moral power to an individual in all sphere of life social, political, economically, psychological, religious and spiritual which are essential for the survival of and overall development of the mankind. Empowerment express the bold idea that all people have claims to social arrangement that protect them from the worst abuses deprivations and secure the freedom for a life of dignity.

Empowerment is a term frequently used for the development of weaker section of he society especially women. Most of the times terminologies like women’s empowerment gender “ equality female autonomy or women” status” are used synonymously despite the similar concepts underlying many of these terms. The concept of women empowerment can be distinguished from oters by two essential elements. The first is that of the process (kabear, 2001 oxal and Baden 1977, Rowlands 1995, as cited in Malhotra, 2003) none of the other concepts explicitly encompasses a progression from one state (gender inequality) to another (gender equality). The second element is agency in other words, women themselves must be significant actors in the process of change that is being described or measured thus hypothetically, there could be an empowerment gender equality by various measures, but unless the intervening process involved women as agent of that change rather than merely as it recipients, we would not consider it empowerment.

However, it would merely be an improvement in outcomes from one point in time to another. The term women’s empowerment conveys different measuring in different contexts. Women’s empowerment is considered as an entry point for gender.

2.3 Recorgnise Rural Women As Leader And Agent Of Change

Rural women agenda of change at different level is society including in the household. Since rural women from the backbone of small holder agriculture and are the main producers and processors of food heard civil society and decision making process at the local level can be important levers and women must be healthy and educated to participate effectively. Women working together in net works and associations both improve outcome for women and deliver broader social and economic benefits for all. Women are strong and resilient and should not be seen as vulnerable but rather as being in vulnerable situations. Gender power dynamics create vulnerability at the house hold level, for gi8rl children nutrition and food security. Analysis and strategies to address underlying often invisible problems are critical to ensuring that women are healthy and able to claim and exercise t heir rights and further act as agents of change, it is important that development partners understand the full scope of rural women’s lack of security taking into account that women are not a homogenous group but subject To different kinds of vulnerabilities which vary over the course of their lives. It is essential to work with men and women’s empowerment and leadership are favourable also too them.

2.4 Strengthen Rural Women’s Right Is The Access. Use And Control Of Property, Including Land.

Robust land laws are not sufficient. The gap between laws and practices has to be closed to improve women’s equal rights to inherit, access use and control land. Development partners need to their understanding of gender relations in the context of land, related investments and how multiple and intersection forms of discrimination can negatively impact rural women’s right respect to land, it is also important to recognize and address the specific land related challenges in conflicts and post conflicts situations including gender based violence. Development partners need to facilitate rural women access to market/value chain development. This is the key to women’s ability to access broader and more profitable forms of trade and business opportunity and realize their potential.

2.5 NICOWA: Empowerment Nigeria Women Through Cooperative Alliance

Ours is a decidedly male-dominated environment and our women have historically been allowed only a very small role in community decision making contrary to popular perception on and related activities for their livelihood and income and has been observed that a vast majority of those who are in the majority in the agricultural sector Nigeria women are mostly involved in substantial agriculture and are shut out of available finance and opportunities for improvement. It is already taken for granted that when rural women are oppressed by their husbands and our male dominated society and hit by the biting pang of poverty, they see little hope, however, all that is changing now.

Women cooperative societies are organizing this workforce and helping them to gain access to more credit, new technology and enhanced production methods recently attended as program me by a group called the Nigerian women cooperative alliance (NICOWA). This group is currently transforming women into successful rural entrepreneurs by producing improved access to social service, a range of support service including credit product and market information technology, management skills and training in enterprise development.

NICOLA is currently focused in four thematic area

  1. Rural Agriculture and Food Production.
  2. Women and Primary health care.
  3. Small and micro enterprise and
  4. Adult literacy and non formal education has been observed that the rural women forms the challenge here is that there will be a need for adaptation of existing small scale farming system through means such as diversification, value addition, non-farm production and improved marketing. It would be necessary to promote viable of far enterprise based on local resources and processing of agricultural and other precuts. The Nigeria women farmers are among the poorest and mast food insecure and the relevant transformation require that small farmer organize themselves into groups and cooperation based size rural enterprise increasingly there will be a demand for higher levels of farm or rural business planning and management skills. In this wise, NICOLA which has members in most of the local government areas and state of the country have embarked on the development of a training and capacity acquisition program for the various member in the country’s population is instrument both in agricultural production and rural handicraft manufacture. These women are sizable contribution to the country’s national income.

Rural women are active in all stages of agricultural production despite their unrelenting endeavors in the development of the society. The female presence in rural institutions and their access to formal credit available from the backing system is indeed very limited. Indeed addition, even in cases where rural women are cooperatives, members in practice, their contributions in discussion and decision making is limited by certain cultural restraints. The establishment of rural women’s cooperatives under their own management is an effective method for facilitating their access to the means of production and organizations have pioneered in paving the way for their involvement in moving the national agenda for rural development forward. This has resulted in their own progress and improved both quantitatively and qualitatively the socio economic aspects of rural society and its overall advancement.

It has been noted that agricultural cooperative provide an equitable form of enterprise development in rural area which is most suitable for rural women. Therefore, support to agricultural co-operative as member controlled community level rural enterprise will provide the right conditions for improving the livelihood of women as entrepreneurs. This will surely interest the office of the millennium Development goals as well as the office of the first lady Her Excellency Mrs Patience Goodluck.

According to the president of NICOWA, Dr Mrs Esther Eku, the project already embarked upon by NICOWA has contributed to food security by improving  the self-help capacities and livelihood of opportunities for women farmers; speaking further, she said , “we organize meeting with women and listen to their voices. We help them better understand the develop needs of their families and create project to meet those needs most often in the form of women co-operatives”.

The NICOWA president explained as follows co-operatives put people first, they are member owned, they are controlled under democratic principles and they are competitive enterprises, which are at least efficient in their business operations and use of capital as other in the market place. Yet they are not driven by profit but rather by needs. The co-operatives form of organizing a business enterprise assures  any group of individual an effective means to combine their resources, however, small and enable that group of people to meet their common, economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations. Co-operatives are autonomous associations of persons who unite voluntary, They are jointly owned by their members and democratically controlled. Although we talk often about co-operatives having members we need to remained ourselves that members have their co-operatives for it is they that defined its operations and activities often directed  not only towards their members but also their communities.  Co-operatives are defined by the value and principles under which they operate. They are based on the value of self-help, self-responsibility. Democracy, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical value of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for other has also been observed that co-operatives enables the state to provide community based  initiatives the necessary support and resources without inhibiting their individual identity. When poverty inequality and social justices, we see that  co-operative create direct opportunities for the poor to earn enough to sustain a decent level of living. It is a uniquely appropriate institutional base to reach the poor and involves people’s participation in their own department.

Case studies show that co-operatives movement can alleviate poverty by tackling some of the cause of poverty. It can contribute to solve housing needs, improve asses to capital, mobilize saving developed women potential in achieving these aims depends on a clear definition of their role in national development and favourable government policies, adequate planning and reduced political interference. An educated membership is also an indispensible element

 2.6 Re positioning Women Through Co-Operative Society.

        Main streaming and integration of women in the process of development. Women all over the world have been challenging gender inequalities since the beginning of history. In every historical epoch and in every part of the world women hold struggled for equal treatment because of confluence of ignorance and conservation. Women have been subjected by the patriarch system which has derived those making rightful contribution to the socio-economic development process.

According to the cense 2001, women constitute 48% of the total population in Nigeria. It is therefore, necessary that women should participate in the economic, social and political processes as equal partners achieve inclusive development. Owens empowerment as a process of distribution of social power and control of resources was first introduced at the third international women’s empowerment held at Nairobi in 1985. Since the women’s empowerment as an issues has raised almost all international platforms  like the UN conference on environment and development in Riode Janeiro  brazil in 1992 world conference  on human right in Vienna in 1993, international conference on population and development in cario in 1994, and at the world summit for social development in Copenhagen in 1995 where women’s empowerment was seen as an objective of social and economic development.

2.7 Women Empowerment In Idemili

        The government of Idemili has made empowerment of women as one of the principal objective of the ninth five year plan (1997-2002) and also declared 2001 as the women’s empowerment. The Idemili constitution has conferred and guaranteed equality before law universal adult franchise and equal opportunities for men and women as fundamental right. A number of laws and legislation have been enacted against female infanticide, child marriage dowry harassment, trafficking in women e.t.c. in order to give a fillip to women for their empowerment appropriate institutional mechanisms and interventions have been initiated both at the central and state levels. The establishment of a national commission for women and state commission for women in most of the states are some of the important development for the betterment and prosperity of Idemili women in the report of the committee on the status of women in Idemili towards equality 1974 and highlighted in the National perspective plan for women 1988-2000, the Idemili farm association report 1988 and the platform for action, five years after an assessment (National policy for empowerment of women 2001).

2.8  Social Exclusion Of Idemili Women

        Some reflections with regards to women’s economic rights, the situation is far from providing a comfortable feeling. Women suffer from many disadvantages in terms of literacy, labour participation, participation in decision making process and income. The female face of poverty churns out pessimistic statistics that frightens not only because of the massive problem of poverty, but also because it is women who bears the burnt of its burden. Feminization of poverty has a definite gender dimension, however, this dimension has not been given due to emphasis in the implementation of anti-poverty policies and programmes as a result the number of women living in poverty continues to be very high and women seem to be more impoverished than men. Consequently, poverty is the repositioning women through cooperative and dynamic of social inclusion persistent cause in inequality and on obstacle to women’s empowerment in idemili. The work participation rate of women reflects economic status in the society. The census data reveals that work participation rate among women is not satisfactory as compared to men.

SAARC Journal of Human Resource Development 2011 equal right of women, key among them is the ratification of the convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) in 1993. The principle of gender equality is also in idemili forum in their constitution in its preamble fundamental right, fundamental duties and directive principles.  The article 14 and 15 ensure equality of opportunity before law to all persons and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. Article 16(1) guarantees equality of opportunity all citizens men and women in matters relating to employment or appointment to any public office. The article 15(3) provides for making special provision for women and children and allows affirmative action in favour of women. The article 39(d) provides for equal pay for equal work irrespective of gender. The article 51(e) casts a fundamental duty in every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to women. Besides that a large number of legislatures stand for attaining equality fostering gender justice and eliminating societal evils subjugating women to disadvantages and disabilities.

The child marriage restraint Act 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act, Dowry prohibition Act 1961, Immoral Traffic prevention Act 1986, Medical Termination of pregnancy Act 1971 and The Pre-natal Diagonist Techniques (Regulation and prevention of misuses) Act 1994 are the special laws which clearly affirms women’s human rights (Srivastava, 2001) from the fifth five year plan (1974-78) onwards, there has been a marked shift in the approach towards women’s issues from welfare to development. In recent years in the empowerment, there still exist a wide gap between the goals enunciated in the constitution, legislation, policies plans programmes and related mechanisms in the one hand and the situation reality of the status of women in Nigeria in the other. This has been analyzed extensively.

2.9 Success, Failures and Prospects For Women Entrepreneurs.

It has already been mentioned that empowering women especially by providing them adequate finance, good and qualitative education plus good health are the pre-requisite for women to achieve success in entrepreneurial activity. In Nigeria, many women have approved to their male counterpart threat the progress of the lion lies in the claws. They have proved in its entirely that what a man can do a woman can do it and even do it better through the little knowledge they have acquired, any women entrepreneur have made a lot of success in their areas of operation belts in the production, manufacturing, trading and other fields of human endeavor. Evidence abound of handful of women who have achieved great success as entrepreneur including the reference to women entrepreneurs in Idemili Local government area. However, even though some these women entrepreneurs possess those qualities that are symbols of successful entrepreneurs, a lot of them have not been able to find their areas of operation. Evidence abound of a good number of women who after venturing into one business or another eventually crashed as soon as they started. The reason for their failure have been said to range from the uncooperative attitude of husband and inability to plan properly. Other reason for their failure includes the pathetic attitude of the financial institution to advance loan/credit to those women to enable to argument the major financial resources they have. Also, the inability of both states and federal government to offer useful assistance to those women’s entrepreneurs is seen as the cooperative value and principles and women’s empowerment. a cooperative is an autonomous association through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise (ICA (statement on the cooperative identity (1995). A cooperate is based on certain value and principles of its which distinguish it from other form of organization, the very motto of cooperation each for all and for each signifies loyalty trust, faith and fellowship. A cooperate is a perfect democratic institution of the member, one vote system of decision making (singh, 2002) has defined a cooperative society as an autonomous association of person united voluntary to meet their common economic social and cultural needs through a jointly enterprise. In a cooperative association, each member must have in view, the welfare of the whole body of the members forming the association as also of its constituents. The major reason for their failure and also many women entrepreneurs do not know and those who it is a verse to do proper venture of the choice the end result is always the same they crashed out just the way they can without enjoying and dividend from their business. However, in the light of the above mentioned, there are still prospects for women entrepreneurs not only.


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