Socioeconomic characteristics of women and ICT use in Nigeria
Women social attrributes
Whereas men and women are both involved in the use of Information Communication Technologies ICTs they are confronted with varying socioeconomic challenge with the women bearing the brunt. Outside observed relative advantages of the men over the women in terms of literacy, Net educational enrolment and attendance, population distribution, women are more productive; women provide greater labour force for the production system, engage in more physical and longer hour jobs both at home and outside the home. Notwithstanding the integral roles performed by women for greater productivity as well as the growing indispensability of ICTs in daily socioeconomic activities women in Nigeria are yet to adequately find their place in the world of ICTs. A lot of negativity still plagues the relationship between the use of ICTs and several aspects of women socioeconomic characteristics such as age, marital status, education, income and occupation. Several sociocultural issues are identified as factors militating against women access and use of ICTs such as gender sensitive norms and traditions, lack of finance, low education, lack of mobility and time. Formulation of gender friendly policies, capacity training in ICTs application, provision of formal loan schemes to provide financial aid to women among others are recommended as measures necessary to improve the situation.
Keywords: Socioeconomic characteristics, women productivity, ICT.
Nigeria is richly blessed in terms of human resources with a whopping population and souring population growth rate. In 2010 Nigeria’s population was reported at 158.3 million and 2.29% of the world’s total population (Trading Economics, 2011). As at October 2011 the population reportedly stood at 167 million at 3.2% population growth rate which earns her the sixth most populous nation in the world (NCP, 2012). Notwithstanding these overwhelming statistics of human resources in Nigeria, the nation is yet to optimally exploit her population for meaningful development due to gender biases; a social divide that presents women with inflexible political structure in favour of men, institutionalised discrimination and multiple demands on women’s time compounded by increasing environmental challenges. The pedigree of women is better explored along the line of their productivity.
OVERVIEW OF WOMEN PRODUCTIVITY
Women constitute a special group of members of any society and community in which they are found. In the productive sector, for instance, they make up a reasonable proportion of the labour force; between 60%-80% of the agricultural labour force in Nigeria (Ikenwachukwu et al. 2005) and about one-third to one-half of the total labour contribution to agriculture (Mollet, 1990).They are a key not a marginal part of the production of the food system of the third world (Mgbada, 2010). In physical sense, it is estimated that women work longer hours, typically, 13 hours more, per week than men as well as perform nearly two-third work hour. Studies in Nigeria have shown that rural women farmers do perform about 70% or more of all agricultural production activities, 100% of food processing and utilization activities and over 50% of storage and marketing operations. A study of the average daily hours put into agriculture and non agricultural activities by men and women in four African countries in 1992 further revealed the dominance of women in labour.
Average daily hours in Agriculture and non-agricultural activities by gender in four African Countries in 1992.
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Source: Saito k. (1992).
In the home, the contributions of women remain remarkable. They spend between 1-9 hours daily, carrying water, gathering food and preparing meals for the family consumption. Estimates also reveal that women carry more than 80 tonnes of fuel, water and farm produce, for a distance of more than 1 km yearly, while the men carry only one-eighth of such items.
However, in the bid to end the social injustice against women individuals, Governments and organizations have explored several initiatives and approaches to promote gender mainstreaming.
Lee, Markotsis and Weir 2002; Kranich and Schement 2006; Vinson 2007; Newman et al (2010) identified the key to gender mainstreaming in Information Communication Technology (ICT) by noting that “the ability to access digital information and communication networks is vital to full citizen’s participation in the economic, social, educational, political and cultural life of a modern society.” Simply put, meaningful gender mainstreaming cannot occur in isolation with ICTs.