Gender disparity is one of the developmental problems that face every developing country in the 21st century and globally. It is also a major cause of unemployment in Nigeria.
Although, over the years there have been measures put in place to curb this marginalization, the unemployment rate keeps rising in the face of declining economic growth. This is often exacerbated by increasing population rate that is most times divided along gender lines.
The latest data released on unemployment in Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that women ranked the highest when it comes to unemployment. The report showed that unemployment hit 12.2 million females, as against 9.5 million men. Looking at the result, it is quite alarming how women are being marginalized when it comes to the labour force.
The overall number of persons in labour force was estimated to be 80 million, out of which males are about 41.6 million while females are 38.6 million. Female unemployment has risen to 31.6 percent from 26.6 percent in the third quarter of 2018 while male unemployment also rose to 22.9 percent from 20.3 percent in the same period.
Gender disparity has a negative effect on women when it comes to employment. The role that women play in economic growth cannot be overemphasised, especially in a developing country where women’s contributions in informal sector is undeniable.
Similarly, the number of female underemployed was highest with 11.9 million while 10.9 million males were reported to be underemployed. Looking at the data, it can be seen that gender inequality holds back growth of individuals, development of countries, albeit to the disadvantage of both men and women.
The discrimination against women remains a common occurrence today and serves to hinder economic prosperity. And half of the population of work force in Nigeria consists of female workers. However, the type of work as well as the condition under which women work and access opportunities for improvements differs from men. Women are often disadvantaged in access to employment opportunities, access to finance, and conditions of work.
Besides, despite significant progress in female labour force participation over the past decades, there exist pervasive and persistent gender differences across different sectors of the economy. Looking at this data; Underemployment rate amongst males in Nigeria stands at 26.3 percent in 2020 compared to 15.4 percent in 2018 while under employment rate for females in Nigeria has risen from 25.9 percent recorded in 2018 to 31 percent in 2020.
With the data above it is obvious that there is labour segregation, inequality due to low investment in human capital such as schooling and training, differential income roles, and comparative biological advantages in entry levels, entry barriers, preferences and prejudices in Nigeria labour sector. Gender equality through the empowerment of women is the primary factor that promotes economic growth. When women are not fully participating in the labour force, a substantial number of the population is not being utilised. There is however a resultant decline in productivity which results in unemployment.
Unemployment and gender inequality are not new phenomenon. There have been policies and programs geared towards tackling these issues because theories and researches have affirmed that the effect slows the rate of growth through decline in productivity.
Here are ways the government & stakeholders can bridge the gap of unemployment in women
1. Public sector reforms should play an important role in promoting gender equality via labour market regulations, social protection programs and public investment in infrastructure that will help reduce women’s care burden.
2. There should be labour force laws to ensure a reduced wage gap, and gender stratification in the labour market.
3. Policies that will help women’s full representation in labour market and parliaments should be encouraged to help reposition women for national development.
4. The government can curb this gap by disbursing money into microfinance banks for lending to market women, petty traders, and artisans to stimulate economic growth, thereby making these women to be self-employed.
5. To bridge the gap of unemployment among women, government should deem it fit to introduce a way to empower women and also support their skills. Empowerment of women is the primary factor that promotes economic growth.