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Survey on Women Livelihoods in the Niger-Delta: an overview of women's economic activities in oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states

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S. Joab-Peterside
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The economic crisis in the Niger Delta has been exacerbated by increased exploitation of oil and gas resources. In addition to suffering the effects of the economic crisis, women in the Niger Delta are victims of gender-based discrimination. They are underrepresented in politics, education and economics, including employed labour in the oil industry.

This report uses primary and secondary data collected in three communities (Iko, Akakumama and Soku) to get women’s views on problems they encounter, including the negative effects of environmental hazards, and the impact of oil and gas on women’s livelihoods.

With respect to environmental problems confronting their communities, the respondents ranked pollution of air, land and water highest, followed by deforestation, land degradation, excessive soil deposits and in-water hyacinth, in that order. The overwhelming majority also admitted that oil and gas activities have negatively affected or impacted farming, fishing and the environment in their communities.

The author argues that, in spite of available legislative and administrative frameworks for fostering gender equality in Nigeria, structural and cultural discrimination against women still exist. The study shows abysmally low representation of women in institutions created for conflict resolution and peace building in the Niger Delta.

The author concludes by making eight recommendations to overcome biases against women in the region, including: affirmative legislation; more equal access to education for girls and women; and sustained pressure by women leaders and activists at federal, state and local government levels for increased representation of women in government and other decision-making positions.