By | June 26, 2016
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Jacob Orngu Anum


Department of Behavioural Sciences,

Benue State Schools of Nursing and Midwifery, Makurdi, Benue State




This study examined women education and their socio-economic status in Benue State. Data for this study were obtained from female secondary school teachers in all the three Senatorial Districts comprising the 23 local council areas in Benue State. Eighteen (18) secondary schools, six from each of the Senatorial Zones were systematically sampled as study locations. Two hundred and sixteen (216) respondents were sampled from the study locations. These were completed and received from three (3) sets of respondents; Nigeria Certificate in Education and National Diploma Certificate holders, Bachelor’s degrees and Higher National Diploma Certificate holders; and master’s Degree certificate holders, all among female secondary school teachers in Benue State in the ratio of 1:2:3,respectively.Data were analyzed using tables of simple percentages while hypotheses were tested using Chi-square, X2  at 2 degrees of freedom and 0.05 percent level of significance. Findings showed that about four fifth (72%) of the women were aware that education enhances their socio-economic development, while 90% of the respondents affirmed that education has significantly reduced poverty among them.  Further findings identified various perceived factors hindering women’s educational attainment to include cultural and traditional beliefs, religious views, preference for a male child, and discrimination against womanhood amongst others. The study recommended among others that education of women and the girl child should be given particular attention and all forms of cultural and religious discriminations should be discouraged.




One of the most topical issues in the current debate on development worldwide has been that of the role of women in the development of their own society. This is because, women also are at the core of development economics, yet their vital contributions to society are often overlooked, underestimated or ignored by economic planners and policy makers (Ezegbe & Akubue, 2012).

The word “development” can simply be defined as, “the process whereby an economy undergoes social and economic transformation geared towards an improvement in the quality of its citizens” (Bariboloka, 2004: 34). Participation in development can either be in the economic, political or social sphere. Women have contributed towards the production of nations’ wealth through their engagement in various economic activities. They have made an indelible mark in their efforts to conquer the limitations of the past which have sought to place them permanently in the kitchen and bedroom. However, it has not all been a bed of roses for women and their empowerment. Majority of Nigerian women have not been fully mobilized and empowered to contribute to national development (Okemakinde, 2014).

Okemakinde (2014) further observed that women are traditionally active in the economy, especially in food production. In the rural areas, women are actively involved in farming, food processing, craft work such as pottery and weaving. They are also active in petty trading. The processing and storage of farm output are largely their responsibility. Entry into this area of the economy does not depend on education as in the learning of reading, writing and arithmetic but requires some training that would assist towards income generation.

In the urban areas women are mostly engaged as traders, contractors, hair dressers, and so on. Women also play an important role in white collar jobs where education is a prerequisite. These include teaching, nursing, clerical/secretarial, police, traffic wardens, drivers/ conductors etc (Adekola & Abanum, 2010).

Education is regarded as the basis for development in any society and has significantly changed the condition of women. Through education, their economic life has been reshaped from backwardness caused by illiteracy to the forefront of the struggle of women and for the general well being/prosperity of the society. The examples of some Nigerian women leaders, whose great services and sacrifices would always be fresh in the minds of Nigerians on the economic front, are Madam Tinubu of Lagos state and Queen Amina of Zauzau, the warring queen, Hajiya Ladi Kwali, among others.

In Nigeria, girls’ access to basic education, especially in the northern states, has remained low. The 2006 National School Census (NSC) revealed a net enrollment ratio (NER) of 80.6% suggesting that a substantial proportion (19%) of primary school age population (6-11 years) is not enrolled in primary schools nationwide. This represents about 5 million Nigerian children aged 6-11 years old that do not access primary education (UNICEF, 2013). In the Northern part of the country, the number of children out of school is particularly high and the proportion of girls to boys in school ranges from 1 girl to 2 boys and even 1 to 3 in two states. Although the gender gap has narrowed from 12 to 10 points, there exist wide variations across the States and zones, with the North Central including Benue State and the North West presenting worst scenarios. The net attendance ratio is at 60.10%, translating to about 40% level of non attendance among primary school age children. In the Northern part of Nigeria, where girls’ enrollment rates are already low, it is likely that those who do not participate in education are girls (UNICEF, 2013 and UNESCO, 2012).

This disparity can best be understood when one takes a look at the following statistics emerging from Benue State.


Table 1: Primary and Secondary School Enrolment in Benue State 2005-2010

           Primary School                                       Secondary School

Year M F Total % f M F Total % (f)
2005 245,646 174,222 419,868 41.5 59,248 27,463 86,711 31.7
2006 321,159 234,769 555,928 42.2 61,048 29,154 90,202 32.3
2007 328,430 254,920 603,350 42.3 86,476 40,146 126,622 31.7
2008 374,329 255,920 603,754 42.3 88,594 38, 185 126,779 30.1
2009 318,770 224,065 542,835 41.3 98,417 48,218 146,635 32.9
2010 41 1,212 319,047 730,319 43.7 100,327 51,263s 151,590 33.8
Total 1,999,547 1,305,418 3,304,964 39.5 494,110 234, 429 728, 539 32.2

Source: Statistics Section, Ministry of Education, Makurdi, 2010


Table 1, shows that while over 1.9 million (60.5%) males enrolled in primary education in the period under review, only over 1 million (39.5%) females got this chance. Similarly, while 494,110 males (67.2%) were in secondary school fewer females (234,429) (32.8 %) got this opportunity in the period under review in Benue State. One begins to wonder why there are disparities between the enrollment ratios of female to male in our schools.

One of the most devastating problems facing women is socio-cultural practices and values that hinder women’s education and their socio-economic development. Okemakinde (2014) opines that the Nigerian woman is born into a culture of male supremacy, as shown in the general preference for a “male child”. He further stated that religion is another frustration to women’s education and their socio-economic development.

According to Bariboloka (2004), discrimination against women is one of the factors that impede women’s educational status and their socio economic development. Some parents prefer to send their sons to school instead of their daughters. Research has also shown that seven-year-old girls, work more than five hours a day, while seven–year-old boys get away with only about forty minutes. Also, fifteen-year-old girls work for nine hours a day while their male counterparts work half the time, that is, four and half hour only in a day (UNESCO, 2013).

In Nigeria, women represent about 50 percent of the population (Nigeria Census, 2006), yet they are systematically excluded from participating fully in the political life of the nation, but subjected to untold hardship because of their gender. Abiola (2015) observed that more women are disadvantaged in the process of political recruitment. The condition is further complicated through various forms of discrimination, deprivation and abuse against women and gender inequality, which contradicts the principles of economic development of the nation.

Education has been one of the most important means of empowering women with knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary for them to participate fully in the development process. This article focuses on the need to educate women for development, as they are believed to be powerful agents of development. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to establish the relationship between education and the socio-economic status of women in Benue State.

Theoretical Framework:

The Gender-Oppressive theory

The article examines education and women’s socio-economic status in Benue State through the theoretical lenses of the gender oppressive theory. The proponent of gender oppressive theory is Chardotte Perkins Gilhan in 1998 (Ritzer, 2008; Rhodes, 2005). The theory explains why gender oppression has been systematically directed at women in time and space where the patriarchal social system is practised. Women are dominated and oppressed by men directly or indirectly via social processes that support patriarchal social order and family kin and community structure. The theory rightly observes that; it is a primary power arrangement sustained by strong and deliberate intention with additional end products of gender differences, gender inequality and gender structural oppression. The assumption of the theory is that to overcome oppression and marginalization, women should fight for reforms within the existing status-quo, reforms that will give them better deals such as legal changes and promotion of equal opportunities, allowing women to have access to things on the same terms as men. This theory has attempted to explain why lack of adequate provision of education has denied women opportunity for employment and other economic activities that enhance their socio economic status. The paper adopted this theory because, it promotes equity, collective ownership of the means of production, equitable distribution of output of production, equal access to education, liberation of women who are oppressed and the abolition of the very structures that support oppression in our society.


Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are:

  1. To assess the extent to which education enhances women’s participation in public life.
  2. To examine the extent to which education has reduced poverty among women.

Research Questions

  1. To what extent does education enhance women’s participation in public life?
  2. How has education reduced poverty among women in Benue state?


Working Hypotheses

The research hypotheses formulated for this study were stated below:

  1. Ha: Education of women has significantly reduced poverty among them.

Ho:Education of women has not significantly reduced poverty among them.

  2  Ha: Education has significantly empowered women economically.

       Ho:Education has not significantly empowered women economically.


Research Method

     Benue State lies within the lower River Benue trough in the middle belt region of Nigeria. Its geographical coordinates are located between longitude 7.470 and 100 east, Latitude 6.250 and 8.8 north of the equator. It shares boundary with five other states namely: Nassarawa to the north, Taraba to the east, Cross River to the south, Enugu to the South West and Kogi to the West. The state shares a common boundary with the Republic of Cameroon on the South-East. Benue State has a population of 5,780,389 while females formed 50.2 % of the total population accounting for about 2,990,195 (2006 Nigeria Census). The state occupies a land mass of 32,518 square kilometers.

          Data for this study were obtained from secondary school female teachers in all the three Senatorial Districts in Benue State. Systematic and simple random sampling techniques were adopted for the study. In all, two hundred and sixteen (216) female teachers in eighteen secondary schools in the state’s 23 Local Government Areas were systematically sampled. Thus, three (3) secondary schools were covered in the six (6) selected local governments areas spread across the state in order to study the female teachers in the eighteen (18) secondary schools. Therefore, twelve (12) female teachers were randomly sampled from each of the eighteen (18) selected secondary schools in the study area.

The choice of this population is deliberate, as it anchors on the fact that women in education are more likely to establish the relationship between education and economic development as it affects womanhood. More so, women may recall and report events more accurately as they affect them compared to men.


The Research Instruments

A structured questionnaire constructed by the researcher was used as the research instrument for collecting data for the study. The instrument was divided into two parts: Section ‘A’ contained items designed to elicit relevant personal information of the respondents such as age, school, religion, marital status. Section ‘B’ contained a list of thirty items on the perception of women’s education in relation to their socioeconomic emancipation. The instrument consisted of closed-ended items which had two options for respondents to complete, whether they “agreed” or “disagreed” with the questions, which were in a very clear, simple and easy to understand. The questionnaire was administered face-to-face on respondents by visiting the sampled schools in Benue state. The characteristics of the respondents were presented in simple percentages.


Results/Discussion of findings

Data gathered from the respondents were tabulated and analyzed statistically using simple percentages.


The demographic information of the respondents presented in table 1 above shows that 34 % of the respondents were within the age group 30-39 years. More married women (51%) and NCE/Diploma holders (52%) were employed for the study while Christians were in the majority (94%).


Table 2:      Education has significantly empowered women economically

Respondents Agreed Disagreed Total
NCE/ND 24 (67%) 12 (33%) 36
BED/HND 52 (72%) 20 (28%) 72
PG 79 (73%) 29 (27%) 108
Total 155 (72%) 61 (28%) 216 (100%)

Source: Field Survey

N = 36, x = 24/36 x 100 = 67%

From table 2 above, 72 % of female teachers in secondary schools in Benue State affirmed that education has empowered women economically. Further analysis shows 67 % of Nigeria Certificate in Education and National Diploma holders; 72 % of Bachelor’s Degree and Higher National Diplomas; and 73 % of post graduates with Master’s degrees holders. Thus, their education has empowered them economically, and rewarded their efforts more than their illiterate counterparts.

However, 28 % of the total respondents (female secondary school teachers) amounting to 33% opined that education has not made much impact on their economic status. On the other hand, 11 % of the respondents opposed the view that education of women enhances their participation in economic activities in the society. They said that some of their colleagues had qualifications but could not be gainfully employed.

Table 3:      Education has significantly reduced poverty among women

Opinion Agreed Disagreed Total
NCE/ND 29 (81%) 7 (19%) 36
BED/HND 67 (93%) 5 (7%) 72
PG 98 (91%) 10 (9%) 108
Total 194(90%) 22 (10%) 216 (100%)

Source: Field Survey

N = 36, x = 29/36 x 100 = 81 %

The above analysis shows that 90 % of respondents affirmed that education has significantly reduced poverty among them. Out of this, 81 % were holders of Nigeria Certificate in Education and National Diploma Certificates, 93 % were holders of Bachelor’s degree and 91 % were holders of master’s degree. Ten percent of total respondents disagreed that education has reduced poverty among them. Nineteen percent of those with Nigeria Certificate in Education and National diploma 7 % of Bachelor’s degree holders and 9 % of master’s degree holders disagreed that education has not significantly reduced poverty.

Test of Hypotheses

  1. Education has significantly reduced poverty among women

Education has not significantly reduced poverty among women.   

Table 1. Chi-square technique showing relationship between education and poverty    

                            Responses Total
Respondent                Agreed           Disagreed  
  Observed Expected Observed Expected  
NCE/ND 29 (81%) 32.34 (a) 7 (19%) 3.67 (b) 36
B.Ed/HND 67 (93%) 64.67 (c) 5 (7 %) 7.34 (d) 72
PG 98 (91%) 97 (e) 10 (9%) 11 (f) 108
Total 194(90%)   22 (10%)   216

Decision Rule 1

The decision rule is to accept the hypothesis where the computed value is less than or within the range of the critical value of chi-square, X². Using the statistical tables, the critical value of chi-square, X², at 0.05 level of significance and 2 degrees of freedom was 5.9991 which is greater than the computed value of X²=4.32.

The decision therefore, is to accept the alternative hypothesis, Ha, that education of women has significantly reduced poverty among women. Since the alternative hypothesis, Ha, has been accepted, it means that the Null hypothesis, Ho which states that education has not significantly reduced poverty among women is hereby rejected. For example, in a situation whereby a woman is educated academically and in addition, she has also acquired some skills, such a woman must have exceeded the poverty level.


  1. Education has significantly empowered women economically.

Education has not significantly empowered women economically.





Respondents            Agreed         Disagreed  
  Observed Expected Observed Expected  
NCE/ND 24 (67%) 25.8 (a) 12 (33%) 10.1 (b) 36
BED/HND 52 (72%) 51.6 (c) 20(28 %) 20.3 (d) 72
PG 79(73%) 77.5 (e) 29 (27%) 30.5 (f) 108
Total 155(72%)   61 (28%)   216


Decision Rule 2

The calculated value of chi-square, X², 0.5694 falls within the critical value of X², 5.9991. Therefore, accept the alternative hypothesis, Ha, which states that education of women has significantly empowered them economically. On the other hand, reject the Null hypothesis, Ho; stating that education has not significantly empowered them economically.


Summary of Findings and Discussion

This research investigated the women’s educational status and their socio-economic development in Benue State. Findings of this study show that over two-third (72%) of the sample was of the view that education has significantly empowered women economically to be more productive than ever. This report supports that of Bariboloka (2004), who stated that women that had acquired sufficient education, skills and knowledge are more productive than the uneducated ones. That those women who have acquired skills in their various areas of endervours are now proving to the world to be productive and outstanding in their areas of specialization. Many of these women are bread winners and supporting the economies of their children, family members and other dependents.

According to four-fifth (90%) of the sample, education has significantly reduced poverty among women in the society. This is evident in the fact that many women are bread winners; supporting their husbands and other relatives. Adekola and Abanum (2010) observed that though poverty has not been totally eradicated, it has been significantly reduced among educated women in the society. Okemakinde (2014) also found that many of the women are professional teachers, lawyers, policemen, nurses and midwives, bank managers, and heads of department in some private and international businesses. Some are employed in the public service while others are into private businesses.



The study concludes that education of women has significantly reduced poverty among women in Benue State. Education does not only mean learning how to read and write. It goes beyond reading and writing to health education, hygiene, economy, engineering, and consultancy, among others. It encompasses all forms of skill acquisition and knowledge. The study also established that education has significantly empowered women economically in Benue State. This is evident from the fact that many women are bread winners; supporting their husbands and other relatives. Though poverty has not been totally eradicated, it has been significantly reduced among educated women in the state.

The social and economic development of women means the social and economic development of over fifty percent of the population of Nigeria. However, most of the work done by women is household related and therefore not monetized to be reflected in the world economic indices. That condition is further complicated through various forms of social discrimination, deprivation and abuse against women which contradict the principles of their socio-economic development.



Based on the findings of the research, the following recommendations are hereby made towards enhancing the socio economic status of women.

  • The education of women in particular and that of the girl-child should be pursued more vigorously. Through education, women will be exposed to a variety of choices that affect them and their society.
  • Women should be encouraged to study any course of their choice. There should be no gender-related differentiation in the type of disciplines to be studied or the type of occupations to be undertaken by women and men.
  • Government should find ways to help young women envision themselves. The emphasis should change from marriage as the ultimate end for women. Rather, other fields like Engineering, Computer Science, political science etc, should also be exploited by women.
  • Government should see gender discrimination as a threat to our national development and provide permanent solution by the “glass ceiling” separating women from top level management and professional positions and dismantle all forms of discriminations against women.
  • Efforts should be made to ensure that policies and programs targeted at women are properly implemented. A nation’s human resources are very essential for its growth and development.



Abiola, A.A. (2015). Understanding gender concept its linkages to women in agriculture.  Paper presented at the workshop on Capacity Building for Small Holders Women Farmers in Benue State organized by the Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), Makurdi, Benue State.

Adekola, G., & Abanum, B. (2010). adult literacy for rural development in Rivers State, Nigeria. Being a Paper presented at the National Conference of Nigeria National Council for Adult Education. University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

Bariboloka, F.I. (2004). Women’s educational attainment and their socio economic development. Unpublished M.Sc Dissertation Benue State University, Makurdi.

Ezegbe, B.N., & Akubue, F. N. (2012). An Appraisal of the status of Nigeria women: Educational implications and National development. American Journal of Sociological Research, 2 (2), 27-31.

Ministry of Education (2010). Statistics Division, Makurdi.

Okemakinde, T. (2014). Women Education: Implications for National Development in Nigeria. European Journal of Globalization and Development Research, 9(1), 553-565.

Rhodes, J. (2005). Radical feminism, writing and critical agency. New York: University Press.

Ritzer, G. (2008). Sociological Theory. New Delhi: McGraw-Hill.

UNESCO (2012). Literacy for life. Paris: UNESCO.

UNICEF (2013). Information sheet on girls’ education. Nigeria Country Programme, Abuja.


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