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THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN ORGANISATIONS IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the study
It is a truism the adage that says; behind every successful man is a woman. Women have been regarded as fragile and should be subordinate to the man but they can play very important role for the betterment of the society. This fragile nature has proved her taking domineering influence on many occasions in the history of mankind. Across the country, women have created innovative, comprehensive programs to meet the needs of their communities. Women have established themselves as leaders in the community development process and acquire the skills that have brought positive changes to their communities. As effective builders of social capital, Christian women leaders play key roles in establishing and maintaining important relationships and networks in their communities.
They are facing the challenges of racial, culture, economic and political barriers that exist in the community development process and in many cases overcoming those barriers become their motivation. While their comprehensive approach has influenced the evolution of the community development field, Christian women’s contributions have been neither widely acknowledged nor explicitly credited. The result of the Christian women groups in community development study provide deeper insights into women’s thinking about community development, the barriers they perceive to women’s leadership and the kind of efforts that should be made to facilitate and promote their status and roles in the field. Christian women groups demonstrate variety of effective ways women create social capital that is central to the existence of healthy communities. In fact, the contributions of Christian women groups in community development projects can bring about significant positive changes. Thus, Christian’s women groups have been proved to be one of the effective entry point for initiating activities or development projects in the community that are beneficiary to all the members of the community (Chiwendu, 1980). Therefore, for effective development to occur, their contributions need not be disputed.
1.2 Statement to the Problem
The cultural beliefs that the education of a woman ends in the kitchen, makes it almost impossible for males to see the immense contributions of women groups to the community development. For example, through picture books, girls are taught to have low aspirations because there are so few opportunities portrayed as available to them. It is believed that men’s work is outside the home and women’s work is inside the home. For example we see women at home washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, yell at the children, takes care of babies, and does the shopping, while men are store keepers, house builders, storytellers, monks, preachers, fishermen, policemen, fighters, soldiers, adventurers, judges, farmers and pilots. They were also the king and the gods.
Within the traditional African society, women from almost all the ethnic group were excluded from performing certain activities, especially those that concern leadership and other hand and significant activities like construction works and clergy roles, these were considered as men’s domain. The exclusion of women from some of these activities are due to the socio-cultural factors constraining them from participating in activities that were considered to be exclusively for men (William, 1973).
Furthermore gender inequality contributes to the low contribution of women to community development. Many a times, we hear the men ask, “Don’t you know you are a woman? This question is due to the systematic
gender bias in customs, beliefs and attitudes that confine women mostly to the domestic sphere and not in certain matters expected to be in the men’s domain. Also, the economic and domestic workloads deprived women of time to contribute to community development.
Finally laws and customs also impede women’s access to credit, productive inputs, employment, education, information and politics. These factors affect women’s ability and incentives to contribute in economic and social development activities in the community. The purpose of this research is to find out the contributions of Christian women’s groups to community development, since it is believed that “what a man can do, a woman can do better”. The challenges facing them in their bid to contribute will also be reviewed.
1.3 Research questions
- What are the challenges facing the Christian women Groups in their contributions to community developments?
- How do Christian Women Groups contribute to community development?
- What are the ways in which Christian Women Groups could be encouraged to contribute to community development?
- How do Christian Women Group generate their income for community development projects?
- What are the objectives of Christian Women Groups?
1.4 Objectives of the study
This research work was an intensive field-based examination of the contributions of Christian Women Groups in community development activities. All its objectives include:
- To find out the challenges facing the Christian Women Groups in their bid to contribute to community development.
- To find out how Christian Women Groups contribute to community development.
- To identify strategies for meaningful contribution of Christian Women Groups to community development.
- To find out the extent Christian Women Groups generate their income for community development projects.
- To find out the objectives of the Christian Women Groups.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study will be of help to future researchers in the area study. It will also add to the already existing knowledge on the contributions of Christian Women Groups to community development. The feminist will benefit from the study will help them advocate well on women rights and sexual equality.To politicians, it will help them to provide for their citizens the fact needs they have long waited for.
To policy that matches the rapid changes which exist in the community.Finally, to teachers, it will help them lay their hands on more materials to teach in respect of the topic in focus.
1.6 Definition of concepts
The basic concepts that will be defined in this research work includes: Christian, Community, Community development, Contribution, Development, and Group Women.
Christian: According to the Good News Bible, the word Christian was first used at Antioch to refer to those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts chapter 11:26(). Also, the Oxford Dictionary of Current English defined Christian as one following Christ teaching, believing in or following the religion of Christ, showing the associates qualities. It refers to the adherent of Christianity.
Community: Ezeh (1999), defined community as a place in which people live (village, cities, etc) or reflecting a population group bearing similar characteristics (rural dwellers, urban residents, order people; children and young adults, etc). Bensman (1994) defined community as a relatively small isolated center with a stable population, in which all economic and social services necessary to life can be maintained. Also Igbo and Anugwom (2001:20) defined community as a population which occupies a given area and shares similar system of rules and regulations to a group of people, residing in a given geographical location, who share the same culture, identity and ideology, who are interacting with each other.
Community development: according to the United Nation Organization (Ux10), community development is defined as the process by which the efforts of the people themselves are united with those of the governmental authorities to improve the economic, social and cultural life of the people to integrate the community into the life of the nation and to enable them to contribute fully in 15
National progress. Ezeh (1999) defined it as the various strategies and inter-positions through co-ordinate actions of the communities’ members in order to usher in for the people Social and Economic development. It is an effort geared towards achieving the solution of community problem.
Contribution: According to the Oxford Dictionary of current English, contribution is the act of contributing. Contribution is derived from the word contribute, which means to give (time money, etc) towards a common purpose. In this context, contribution is referred to as the time money, support, material etc directed towards community development projects by the Christian Women Groups in mbaise.
Development: Ezeh (1999) sees development as when there is an upward movement from one position to another overtime especially where the movement is a positive one. It consists of the process of bringing out the capabilities of possibilities of a phenomenon to a more advanced or effective state.
According to Della (2000:370) development is the gradual growth of something so that it becomes advanced or bigger. In this research work, development would refer to the gradual increase in infrastructural foundations of a community for the wellbeing of the community members. 16
Groups: The word groups are used to refer to number of persons or things located close together. It refers to number of people working together. In this research work, groups will refer to the number of Christian Women, working together, to contribute meaningfully to the community development projects in their communities.
Women:The word “Women” is a plural word, meaning more than one woman. It refers to two adult t females, group of adult females and women groups’ organization. According to Hornby (2000:1372), a Woman is referred to as adult female human beings. Also, the Oxford Dictionary of current English sees Woman as an adult human female, the female sex, wife or girl friend. But in this context, Women would refer to all the adult females in the Christian Churches under-study. It is usually used to refer to married Christian mothers.