According to the Global Gender Gap Report, Nigeria is ranked 122nd out of 144 countries accounting for 49.4% of the total population according to the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
This statistics is clear evidence of the status of women in Nigeria. Nigeria is a country already plagued with a lot of challenges, so the average Nigerian faces more limitations than their counterparts in most parts of the world. But the Nigerian woman is even more inhibited. Discrimination and undermining is the culture as far as the woman in Nigeria is concerned.
Admittedly, women, all over the world, face inequality and discrimination but while the other parts of the world are gradually experiencing progress and increasingly having conversations on ensuring gender equality, the Nigerian woman is still largely silenced.
In all honesty, there are no official laws in the constitution of the country that particularly restricts women; however, it is very clear to all involved that it is an unwritten culture of the land.
Female Education in Nigeria
As stated above, the unwritten culture of the land is not favourable to gender equality. Society (both men and women) subscribe to laws that celebrate the man and brings down the woman. In many families in Nigeria, only a man can inherit property because it is believed that since the woman will get married into another family, she will be taking the inheritance into that family. Ironically, she cannot also inherit properties in that new family because she is not a biological family but family by marriage. In essence, there is no way to win the situation.
Also, the culture of a woman changing her name after getting married – which admittedly is not only a Nigerian culture – makes a lot of men prefer having male children to female children. A lot of wives have been sent from their marriages because they could not “produce” a male child. It is believed that only the male child can be a true heir. For men who accept the female children into their homes, some of them refuse to send their female children to school. The reason behind this is that the woman’s education ends in the kitchen. Basically, they believe what is the point of training a female child in school when she will get married and not use the education.
While this is not an official law in the country for the female child to stay at home and not go to school, it is a very prevalent culture, especially in the rural areas and the Northern part of the country. In all fairness to the government, laws and even sensitisation were put in place to further encourage female education in the country. For instance, the National Policy on Education made it clear that access to education is a right for all Nigerian children regardless of gender, religion and disability. But there is still so much to be done, especially as it relates to practice. According to UNICEF Statistics on Education in 2018, children under the age of 15 accounts for 45% of the whole Nigerian population and 10.5million of this number, out of school, with the female child accounting for 60% of the number.
Female Unemployment in Nigeria
Consequently, due to the fact that the population of females in Nigeria who are educated are quite few, the number of unemployed or underemployed women is more than that of men. According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, the population of females who are unemployed was reported at 6.317% in 2017. The disparity between the literacy level of the male and the female child contributed to the higher rate of unemployment. However, even among the literate women, there is still a clear gap. Some of the reasons for this include;
Discrimination: While discriminating against people based on their marital status is illegal in many developed countries, in Nigeria, many employees do not employ married women because they feel they would not be focused on the job like their male counterparts. They usually believe the woman’s attention will be divided between the home front and her career.
Culture: The culture of the woman staying home while the men provide for the family is also a factor that contributes to unemployment in Nigeria. Many employers might not want to employ women to certain positions and reserve it for men because they believe the man is the provider, so he should earn more.
Hasty Generalisation: Another reason is that it is often erroneously said that women, in general, are weaker or more emotional than men and therefore, cannot handle certain jobs. So, some employers might be hesitant to give women those jobs they feel they cannot handle.
All these and more are some of the reasons for the high rate of unemployment among women in Nigeria. While things are not improving as fast as they should, there is progress and hopefully, there will be a time when this would not be a problem again or at least, the disparity will be negligible. At MyJobMag, a leading job platform in Nigeria, we are doing our best by offering training targeted at young people, teaching them to code and learn the latest digital marketing skills that can help them get a digital marketing job.
All these we are achieving by partnering with private schools all over the country.