Abstract

This paper highlights the institutionalization of gender inequality in Nigerian society and affirms that there is a thin divide between the public and private lives of women in Nigeria, especially in rural areas. It draws attention to the emergence of non-traditional female-headed families. The new trend in defining the household shows that it is a dynamic social unit that is not necessarily built around men. This new flexibility in defining the household helps to envision women, not as persons who work merely to supplement household income, but as persons who engage in economic ventures because they have personal needs and aspirations. The main barriers to the advancement of women in public life are low level of employment of women in the formal labor sector, low literacy rates, gender stereotypes with regard to employment opportunities and promotions, and cultural practices such as patriarchy and early marriage that limit women's access to and control over resources. In their private lives women somehow manage to provide the necessary resources to maintain themselves and their children with or without financial assistance from spouses, although with increased difficulty. The feminization of poverty concept is applicable in view of the high level of poverty among women. In order to remedy the situation for women in Nigeria, and to enhance the lives of the populace in general, proposals are put forth that it is hoped will be embraced by government leaders, employers, families and individuals.

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