This study had the objective of assessing the role of gender in cooperative development, analyzing the socio-economic profile of the cooperators on the basis of gender, assessing gender contributions to cooperative development in terms of membership, organizational and leadership structures, examining technical efficiency and factors hindering the implementation of gender sensitive program and activities in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State. A field survey was conducted to collect data from one hundred and fifty (150) respondents. The study employed descriptive statistics, stochastic cobb Douglas frontier function as well as ranking method in the analysis of data collected. The result of the study indicates that female cooperators, who are within the active age, are reasonably literate and dominate the leadership role in cooperatives. The result also shows that  farm size and fertilizer use lead to increase in technical or productive  efficiency among cooperators. The major constraint is gender imbalance or inequality, conflicting interests, low level of participation, wrong timing of meetings,  and long  distance  to meeting  venue.

The estimation of technical efficiency of the cooperators was estimated using cobb-Douglas functional form of stochastic c frontier model. The coefficients of farm size and fertilizer possess a positive sign, while gender possessed a negative coefficient and highly significant, although it does not confirm with a priori expectation, it shows that female cooperators contribute more to technical or productive efficiency of their enterprises than their male counterparts. Hypothesis was tested using chi-sqared X2. This paper recommends that cooperatives should address equality issues and make a firm commitment in their mandate to correct imbalances where they exist and to attain equitable and sustainable development with both men and women in decision- making and leadership position.

Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

Gender concept simply refers to the socially-determined and culturally-specific differences between women and men as opposed to the biologically determined differences.

Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary 6th edition sees gender as the fact of being male or female; gender specific or issue is connected with women only or with men only.

Reeves and baden (2000)sees gender as the “socially determined ideas and practices of what it is to be female or male; these ideas and practices are sanctioned and reinforced by a host of cultural, political and economic institutions including household, legal and governance structure, markets and religion.

Russo et al (2004) see gender as socio-economic variables which aid the analysis of roles, responsibilities, constraints and opportunities of both men and women.

Gender which is commonly used interchangeably with ‘sex’ within the academic fields of cultural studies, gender studies and the social sciences in general; often refers to purely social rather than biological differences, this means that ‘gender roles’ are formed through socialization. Meanwhile, the concept gender, is an important analytical tool in the planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of development programs or cooperative projects as requires that women are considered in relation to men in a socio –cultural setting and not as an isolated group.

Gender roles focuses on household and community roles because gender roles are different in any society, this is because in each society, there are functions of what women and men of that society are expected to do in their adult life. Since gender roles are formed through socialization, children are socialized to internalize these roles; girls and boys are prepared for their different but specific roles. Gender roles can be defined as the roles that are played by both women and men which are not determined by biological factors, but by the socio-economic and cultural environment or situation. Men and women are also characterized by different roles which mean that men take the lead in productive activities, and women in reproductive activities, where the latter include the reproduction of the family and even of society itself. Obviously, women and men’s roles and responsibilities are separate but they complement one another.

UNDP (1995) Opined that ‘gender’ is an economic issue as well as a social issue, in fact more so in Africa than in any other Region and that both men and women play substantial economic roles, notably in Agriculture and in the informal sector, but they are not evenly distributed across the sectors of the economy.

Word Bank (2000)on economic roles of men and women in Africa asked, if Africa can claim the 21st century?, a study made the argument that Africa has enormous unexploited potentials. It has hidden growth reserves in its people, including the potential of its women, who now provide more than half the Region’s labour but lack equal access to education and factors of production. The study concludes that gender equality can be a potent force for accelerated poverty reduction in Africa and Nigeria in particular.

Although ‘gender’ and ‘women’ are often used interchangeably, they are not one in the same .However, most gender analyses usually find that women are disproportionately disadvantaged, that is why the majority of gendered interventions target women. As a result of this, the discussions on gender roles at household and community level revealed that women do all the reproductive work as well as most of the productive work. Women have a bigger share of community roles. Women are continuously taking up roles that were traditionally considered men’s; for example in building. Finally both men and women agreed that some men are not taking sufficient responsibility in the homes and that this is one of the reasons why women take up such responsibilities in view of the well being of their families; that is ,if a man does not care about building or repairing the family house, the woman has to do so because she cannot continue living under a leaking house which is unsafe for the family. This entails that most of the economic activities are in the hands of women; also, women’s activities are often constrained to household and community management activities like child care, food preparation, subsistent agriculture e.t.c. This is why Moser(1993)refers to women as assuming a triple role, that is ,they are responsible for reproductive, productive and community management activities, and receive little recognition for their unpaid work. Therefore, women, the poor, religious or ethnic minorities may face significant constraints in their attempt to participate in collective action. Women’s exclusion from participation may be a direct result of gender norms, or can emerge from other factors that are determined by such norms. In a study of mixed-sex agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua,mayoux found women’s participation limited to involvement as day labourers; when women attempt to make their voices heard or gain management positions, they were perceived by others(men and women)as attempting to step out of their appropriate social role.

Agarwal et al(2001)says that ‘gender roles’ vary among cultures and overtime, and crosscut by a multitude of identities like ethnicity and class, the gender division of labor usually find men and women relegated to the public and private spheres.

Gender roles at household and community level have contributed immensely towards genuine equality of men and women, boys and girls in the economic development. The goals of the youth development services is to develop the youth to their fullest which is being creative ,innovative, smart creating hope, opportunity results and dynamic. This is because from Regulation C/Reg14/13/2003 there is a bill passed that there should be an establishment unit for gender child and youth socialization, this is because when we are talking of children and youth, we need to consider their different languages, culture and socialization in the economy. Moreso, irrespective of gender, all children and young people are regarded as youth, and the youth constitute the largest segment in community and agricultural development.

According to ICA (1995) second principle ,which says “principle of democratic member control”; this entails that cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and Women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

In Anambra state of Nigeria, agriculture is the major occupation of the people and economic activities center largely on food production, processing, marketing and distributive trade. Agricultural producer cooperatives are the main type of societies found in the state; they are registered as farmers multipurpose cooperative societies; women who are more in population are the most active in some primary societies than the men.
Ijere (1991)opined that in agriculture ,women participate in food production, processing, and distribution ;and in the societies, women are cleaners of rural roads, the regular visitors to the markets, the impartial arbitrators in family or clan dispute or disagreements, the preservers of age long customs of yam festivals, child birth, marriage feast and water collection.

Wiley (1999) Opined that producers cooperatives can experience on increase in technical efficiency following a tightening of financial constraints, therefore increasing financial pressure can affect positively the cooperative efficiency.

Idiong (2007). The productivity of farmers can be raised either by adoption of improved production technologies or improvement in efficiency or both.

Gender imbalance in employment, in job status, in poverty status, and in earnings over time is one the major problems affecting the development cooperative industries (Nicita and Razzaz 2002).

Gender inequality in access to and control of a wide range of economic, human, and social capital assets and resources remains pervasive in Nigeria, and is a core dimension of poverty in this region. Understanding the nature of these disparities, and acting forcefully to remove them, is one of the key task of country poverty reduction strategies(PRS),these strategies could be successful by technical efficiency of the cooperatives in reducing poverty and supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which targets to promote gender equality, this was adopted by the united nations millennium development goal in September (2000).So, gender inequality directly or indirectly limits economic growth in Anambra state and imposes substantial development costs. world bank(2000).

Another problem that need to be addressed is the unequal relations of power between men and women on the socio –economic level; this results in the unequal distribution of the benefits of development and hinders women participation in the development process (ICA-ILO Gender Package).

Gender disparity in leadership, education, management and employment seems to lower the economic growth of our societies. Although cooperative organizations and governments have policies of equity and equal opportunity, cooperative societies will ensure that women are afforded equal treatment in regard to employment opportunities, promotion, and wages etc., democratic participation in cooperatives mean that both men, women, and youths should participate equally in cooperatives and that both men’s and women’s needs and concerns must be addressed equally.

Technical inefficiency (productive inefficiency) is due to inadequate working capital for the cooperators, lack of education, poor management, and low level of participation among members mainly the male cooperators, lack of extension education and service, wrong timing of meetings, conflicting interest, gender inequality, and long distance to meeting venues .

Obviously, women all over the world especially in Nigeria form a significant percentage of the world today and despite their contribution to the national economy, cooperatives and rural development, they are often been neglected. Meaning that women occupy a central position in economic production especially in agriculture and in the informal sector but they are not equally distributed across the productive sectors, that is women are being marginalized in mainstream activities(Elson and Evers 1997).

*    What are the socio economic profiles of the cooperator on the bi of gender?

*    What are the contribution of gender to the cooperative development in term of membership, organization and leadership structure?

*    What is the technical efficiency of the cooperator ho I the technical efficiency of the cooperator been compared long gender line.

* What are the factors hindering the implication of gender sensitive programme and activities in the societies.

The broad objective of this study is to assess the roles played by gender in cooperative development in Anambra state of Nigeria. The specific objectives include to:

-          Analyze the socio-economic profile of the cooperators on the basis of gender.

-          Assess gender contributions to cooperative development in terms of membership, organizational and leadership structures.

-          Examine the technical efficiency of cooperators.

-          Compare the technical efficiency of the cooperators along gender lines.

-          Examine factors hindering the implementation of gender sensitive programmes and activities in the societies.
-          Make recommendations based on the findings.

H1   Cooperators activities are male dominated.

H2 technical efficiency is positively related to education, farming experience, farm size, extension visit, credit access, household size, gender; and negatively related to age.

H3 male cooperators are more efficient than the female cooperators.

The justification of this study can be perceived that both men and omen ply substantial economic role, notably in agriculture and in the inform lector, but they are not evenly distributed cross the sector of the economy UNDP (1995). The government of Nigeria will benefit from the findings of this research because it shows and identifies the problems of unequal relations of power between men and women on the socio-economic level and make suggestions for improvement.

It will provide adequate and useful information to the members of cooperatives and to the general public on the concept of gender.

It will be useful to other researchers and readers.

Due to time factor which is caused by the shortness of period in which this research conducted, financial constraint which hinder the researcher movement to all the cooperative societies in Awka north to get first hand information has nearly frustrated the researcher effort.

This research work is limited to Awka North L.G. A in the assessment of the role of gender in cooperative development in Anambra state, Nigeria has up to 200 viable and unviable cooperative of which 150 were selected the sample size.

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