Today’s Woman: Self-Reliance in Nigeria

The strength of a woman can be compared to that of a lion and her wisdom and foresight to that of an eagle. In her nature, a woman seeks independence, agency and an enabling environment for effective function. Africa finds most of its successful women outside the walls of the kitchen—they are found everywhere, but most functional when independent. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the self-reliance of women in Africa, with focus on Nigeria.

The talents of women are silenced by the existence of slavery, closed doors and denial of rights. As a result of the poor economy in some parts of Nigeria, many women do not have properties to their name, largely due to the fear of societal stigma and domestic violence. The few women who do own property are regarded as subjective or societal deviants.

In the Igbo culture in Nigeria, a woman does not have a share in her father’s property, as it is believed that once she gets married she will take up another name and drop her father’s name. This has contributed to a cultural unwillingness to train the girl child in school. The girl child is often regarded as a liability. More focus is therefore given to the boy child. Boys grow up to own the family property. At a young age, they start to assume the role of father in the house, and eventually the properties are changed to the boy’s name. Over the years, this practice has been planted in every Nigerian subconscious mind. The absence of a male child in the home makes a woman as good as childless; if her husband dies, all his properties are shared among his brothers, and the woman is left with her female children and nothing else. Most times, she ends up in her father’s house. Such cruelty often leads to maladaptive behaviour amongst orphaned girls.

Nigeria is blessed with talented women. The role of the woman has shifted from the home to the political arena. She is no longer only fit for the kitchen. On the contrary, the woman is a multi-functional being capable of adopting different roles and being effective. As technology advances, so does the woman. It is important to view the woman as part of the driving force for every societal development.

The need for housing, land and property cannot be overemphasized. As seen in the example above, the story of the late husband is not complete because his children are also deeply affected. The properties he left behind could be used to educate his daughters who will become great contributors to the society and in turn take care of their widowed mother. When this is not the case, the society suffers.

When we provide equal access to property for a woman, she uses it for the benefit of her family and society at large. Housing, land and property are part of the major inheritance in Nigeria. In addition, educating a woman and training her to the peak of her career is an asset to every country.

The following are some ways of empowering the Nigerian woman:

  1. Train her in technology: There are a number of tech industries currently empowering women with quantitative skills by providing scholarships and free resources. Women can participate in these trainings, learn skills and acquire better employment. One way to support this is to include a higher percentage of women in tech as a basic requirement in our system of employment. In this way, more women will be able to avail themselves of opportunities in the technology sector.
  2. Provide start-up grants for businesses and adequate training. Business is one of Nigeria’s major economic drivers. When more women are involved in business and provided easier access to grants and financial aid, the business sector will experience a major positive turn. With more women actors in the market system, the rate of overdependence in society will lessen. Currently, girl children grow up to experience few employment opportunities. This can change when more women are allowed to engage in business.
  3. Encourage community-based collaborations where women can train each other in simple handcraft and engage in an enabling environment for mutual growth. In the past, humanitarian organizations have introduced a village savings scheme for unemployed women within the same community, in which they contributed money to cater for their needs. However, an extension to this could be to set up a financial system for women to contribute and pay for their basic needs and also provide employment for the community. I once heard of a documentary where a woman built a local savings system in her community as a result of her desire for girls to attend school. The aim of the savings group was to pay school fees for every girl and provide basic school needs. This move encouraged other women to rise up and together they trained over 500 girls in that community. This act of kindness continued and became a big success. Such moves can be encouraged by the elites and government.
  4. Implement advocacy training in gender balance and women’s access to housing and property. There is no proven reason why a woman should not own property. For displaced women, housing, land and property are critical.


The list on the journey to self-sufficiency is inexhaustible. However, the safe haven for the Nigerian woman when it comes to supporting the home and being relevant in society as a key player is self-reliance. The value and importance of women and the promotion of gender equality in Nigerian society is vital. Government, civil society and other actors can support the advancement of Nigerian women through gender inclusive programmes, education and policies, particularly in regard to property rights.


I have over 6years work experience as a humanitarian aid worker, with the livelihood, protection, Cash transfers and advocacy unit.. My expertise includes, women empowerment, advocacy, training and facilitation, database management, community assessment as well as monitoring and evaluation. I love to delve into the world of women and employment and find pleasure supporting the vulnerable and displaced within my community. I am currently a product designer with basic knowledge in data analysis and visualization, web design and database management. I am also a researcher with passion in writing articles.

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