Formal Education, Women Employment and Poverty
AbstractIn Nigeria, as elsewhere in the world, the last two decades have witnessed special attention being focused on women and their advancement in all spheres of life. There appears to be consensus in literature that access to and acquisition of formal education has been a major determinant of life chances in the contemporary world. Many studies have established gender differential to formal education, with women at the disadvantaged position, in most countries of the world. It is also noted that employment opportunities is a function of the level and the kind of formal education acquired. Hence, more women than men live below poverty line in most countries as a result of their subordinate roles at the point of employment. It is therefore the submission of this paper that sustainable human development would be unrealizable if approximately half of the human-race – the women-folk – remain ignorant, marginalized and discriminated against. Available data on school enrolment in Nigeria was obtained to fully explain the subject matter of this paper. The paper establishes the link between the level, kind and quality of formal education received by women, their employment status and poverty. It outlined overall trends in women's participation in the labour force and then focus on the position of women who are working as employees. The experience of women in the world of work and the extent to which their earnings fall below commonly used low pay benchmarks are critically examined. It is the submission of this paper that the proportion of women in poverty will continue to rise if traces of gender discrimination in the educational system, especially in the area of curriculum development, instructional materials, career choices, among others are not immediately addressed. Pragmatic policy options aimed at reversing the poverty trend were highlighted.
(Gender & Behaviour: 2003 1: 94-114)