Gender Sensitivity Among Nigerian Ethnic Group

Author: owomero stanley

"Gender", in common usage, refers to the differences between men and women. Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that gender identity is "an individual's self-conception as being male or female, as distinguished from actual biological sex." Although "gender" is commonly used interchangeably with "sex," within the academic fields of cultural studies, gender studies and the social sciences in general, the term "gender" often refers to purely social rather than biological differences. Some view gender as a social construction rather than a biological phenomenon.

According to; The word gender comes from the Middle English gendre, a loanword from Norman-conquest-era Middle French. This, in turn, came from Latin genus. Both words mean 'kind', 'type', or 'sort'. They derive ultimately from a widely attested Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root gen-, which is also the source of kin, kind, king and many other English words.[4] It appears in Modern French in the word genre (type, kind) and is related to the Greek root gen- (to produce), appearing in gene, genesis and oxygen. As a verb, it means breed in the King James Bible: 1616: Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind. — Leviticus 19:19

The gender awareness among Nigerian of different ethnic group varies, and this can be viewed from the aspect of the major constraints women face in public/private and traditional positions: their overall work load and the moral pressures and negative attitudes of both men and women towards women in leadership. As a result, many women were not empowered to fit into for leadership positions. The study is therefore ment to show that for women to be able to participate meaningfully in democratic processes, including local politics, more support would be required for candidates for political positions at household as well as community levels. At the household level, women would need support and assistance with domestic chores in order to release time to participate in local politics and leadership. At community level, Local Councillors be they men or women, would need to better understand the existence of gender biases against women's participation in local participation processes and their role and responsibilities to counter such biases.

On the other hand the Nigeria, The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for over half of West Africa's population. Although less than 25% of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups gives the country a rich diversity. The dominant ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani, most of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are predominant in the southwest.

About half of the Yorubas are Christian and half Muslim. The predominantly Catholic Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast, with the Efik, Ibibio, and Ijaw (the country's fourth-largest ethnic group) comprising a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, and Ijaw are the most widely used Nigerian languages.

The Nok people in central Nigeria produced terracotta sculptures that have been discovered by archaeologists.[4] In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina has recorded history which dates back to around AD 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa. The Yoruba kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of the country were founded about 700-900 and 1400 respectively. Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Ifẹ produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Ọyọ extended as far as modern Togo. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Lagos which is also called "Eko" by the indigenes Now the role of gender will be different according to the ethnic groups in nigeria but before we dwell into that what is the term “gender role” A gender role is a set of perceived behavioral norms associated particularly with males or females, in a given social group or system. It can be a form of division of labour by gender. It is a focus of analysis in the social sciences and humanities. Gender is one component of the gender/sex system, which refers to "The set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality into products of human activity, and in which these transformed needs are satisfied" (Reiter 1975: 159). All societies, to a certain effect, have a gender/sex system, although the components and workings of this system vary widely from society to society. Most Authors recognize that the concrete behavior of individuals is a consequence of both socially enforced rules and values, and individual disposition, whether genetic, unconscious, or conscious. Some researchers emphasize the objective social system and others emphasize subjective orientations and dispositions. Creativity may cause the rules and values to change over time. Cultures and societies are dynamic and ever changing, but there has been extensive debate as to how, and how fast, they may change. Such debates are especially intense when they involve the gender/sex system, as people have widely differing views about how much gender depends on biological sex.

The aim of this research is to analyze women's socio-economic roles, their changing contexts and opportunities, as it is in among various ethnic group in Nigeria over space and time, to achieve this the objectives are:
Analyze the roles of men and women at household and community levels
Identify common constraints to women's participation in leadership positions
Identify ways through which communities can encourage and support women to participate in leadership at local levels
To analyze gender issues and the socio-economic role of women in the traditional and modern sectors,
To provide countrywide data on opportunities and constraints on women including status of women in education, health, politics, natural resources and civil society, and
To suggest policy measures to improve education and opportunities to enable women at all levels to participate in the new economic order effectively.

The study area is Nigeria, which has over three hundred and fifty(350) ethnic groups in 36 states, but the reseach will focus on the three major once with interest in other group such as Ijaw, Edo and Isoko ethnic groups they are introduce briefly below;

The Yoruba (Yorùbá in Yoruba orthography) are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language (èdèe Yorùbá; èdè = language). The Yoruba constitute approximately 21 percent of Nigeria's total population,[1] and around 30 million individuals throughout the region of West Africa.[2] They share borders with the Borgu (variously called Bariba and Borgawa) in the northwest, the Nupe and Ebira in the north, the Ẹsan and Edo to the southeast, the Igala and other related groups to the northeast, and the Egun, Fon, and other Gbe-speaking peoples in the southwest. While the majority of the Yoruba live in southwestern Nigeria, there are also substantial indigenous Yoruba communities in Benin, Ghana and Togo, as well as large diasporic Yoruba communities in Sierra Leone, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Trinidad, the Caribbean, and the United States.The Yoruba are the main ethnic group in the states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo, which are subdivisions of Nigeria; they also constitute a sizable proportion of Kwara and Kogi states as well as of the Benin.Many people of African descent in the Americas have claim to Yoruba ancestry (along with several other ethnic groups) to some degree. A significant percentage of Africans enslaved during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade in the Americas were Yoruba.

The Igbo, sometimes (especially formerly) referred to as the Ibo, are a West African ethnic group numbering in the tens of millions. Most Igbos live in southeastern Nigeria, constituting about 17% of the population of the country; they can also be found in significant numbers in neighboring Cameroon and other African countries. Their language is the Igbo language.The traditional Igbo religion believes in a benevolent creator, usually known as Chukwu, who created the visible universe, the uwa. Opposing this force for good is agbara, meaning spirit or supernatural being.Apart from the natural level of the universe, they also believe that it exists on another level, that of the spiritual forces, the alusi. The alusi are minor deities, and are forces for blessing or destruction, depending on circumstances. They punish social offences and those who unwittingly infringe their privileges. The role of diviners is to interpret the wishes of the alusi, and the role of the priest is to placate them with sacrifices. Either a priest is chosen through hereditary lineage or he is chosen by a particular god for his service, usually after passing through a number of mystical experiences. Each person also has a personalised providence, which comes from Chukwu, and returns to him at the time of death, a chi. This chi may be good or bad.

The Hausa are a Sahelian people chiefly located in the West African regions of northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger. There are also significant numbers found in regions of Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and Chad and smaller communities scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route across the Sahara Desert and Sahel. Many Hausa have moved to large coastal cities in West Africa such as Lagos, Accra and Cotonou, as well as to countries such as Libya, in search of jobs that pay cash wages. However, most Hausa remain in small villages, where they grow crops (Hausa farmers time their activities according to seasonal changes in rainfall and temperature) and raise livestock, including cattle. They speak the Hausa language, a member of the Chadic language group, itself a sub-group of the larger Afro-Asiatic language family.

The Ijaw (also known by the subgroups "Ijo" or "Izon") are a collection of peoples indigenous mostly to the forest regions of the Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States within the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Some are natives of Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo states also in Nigeria. Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon along the West African coastline. They are believed to be some of the earliest inhabitants of southern Nigeria. The Ijo people number about 9 million. They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century

Isoko While some people believed that the Isoko people originated from the Benin Kingdom, others, like Professor Obaro Ikime, believe this to be untrue. Ikime states "If there is any aspect of the history of the various peoples of Nigeria about which no one can speak with any exactitude, it is that which deals with the origins of our peoples."The belief that most of the Isoko groups are of Benin origin were views held and expressed in the 1960s and 1970s. These views were "decidedly simplistic and were based on British Intelligence Reports of the 1930s"and Ikime's field work of 1961-1963

Edo people Benin City is called Edo by its inhabitants and in certain contexts individuals from all parts of the kingdom will refer to themselves as ovbiedo (child of Edo ). Except when speaking English, no Edo person ever refers to himself as "Benin" or "Bini". These are non-Edo words of doubtful origin used by Europeans as an adjective and for the dominant people of the Edo kingdom and their language. Perhaps, this can be linked to the pre-colonial practice of naming areas after major geographic landmarks, in this case the Bight of Benin. It is on record that in 1472, the Portuguese captain Ruy de Siqueira brought a sailing ship as far as the Bight of Benin under the reign of Oba Ewuare. Egharevba provides further confirmation that Europeans named areas after major geographic landmarks. According to him, the label Lagos (the popular capital City of Nigeria) can be traced to the Portuguese because of its proximity to the lagoon. It has been suggested that "Benin" or "Bini" derive from the Yoruba phrase Ile-ibinu (land of vexation) which was purportedly uttered by Prince Oronmiyan declaring the fundamental fact that "only an Edo prince can rule over Edo land." This Yoruba-based etymology of "Benin" or "Bini" is doubtful since there is evidence indicating that these words already occur in Portuguese writings about Edo dating back to the fifteenth century. According to Crowder, "unfortunately little is known about the early history of Oyo, for there was no written language, unlike Benin which was first visited by Europeans at the end of the fifteenth century." Not until the end of the seventeenth century are there any definite dates for the history of Oyo which is no doubt linked to the later contact with the Europeans. The different close neighbors refer to the Edos by different names. For example, the Urhobos call the Edos ikhuorAka (the people of Aka), the Ikas (Agbor) use the label ndi-Iduu (the people of Iduu). Along this line of reasoning, the Yoruba phrase Ile-ibinu, later corrupted to Ubinu, may be Yoruba's label for the Edos in light of the constant warfare against the Oyo empire by different Edo kings. This explanation is particularly striking because the Yorubas (for example, the Ekitis) refer to the Edo as Ado and not Ubinu. However, according to Egharevba it was Oba Ewuare Ne ogidigan (The great), about 1440 A.D to 1473 A.D, who changed the name of the country to Edo after his deified (servant) friend. Prior to this, the land had been called the land of Igodomigodo. Thus, the City has been known afterwards as Edo ne ebvo ahirre (Edo the City of love) because through love Edo (the servant friend) was able to save Ewuare from a sudden death.

The study will be limited to the areas such as

Cultures and gender roles,
Gender equity,
Women in leadership position,
Women empowerment,
Gender equity,
Women empowerment: education,
Women and HIV/AIDs,
All of the issues listed above will be viewed in terms of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria and more over what obtains at present compared to the past. The data would be collated and a comparative analysis would be made.