Educational Level of Rural Women and Forest Resource Exploitation in Cross River State, Nigeria: Implication for Poverty Reduction, Education and Forest Policies



Efforts to address gender inequality emphasises several measures to achieve women’s empowerment and involvement in all spheres of national lives. Education has been observed as a means of achieving women empowerment. Advocates view education as a springboard to employment and economic independence. It also provides the critical foundation from which further empowerment takes off. While women have experienced significant gains in literacy and educational attainment, the inequality in public sphere is still very pronounced and the opportunities for economic enhancement in terms of access to resources especially within the urban existence is still slim. The problem is; could education condition the economic behaviour of the woman at the rural area? What role does the level of education of women at the rural locales play in the rate of resource exploitation? The objective of this study therefore, is to examine the extent to which the educational levels of the rural woman accentuate her rate of resource exploitation. By resource exploitation we mean the extent to which the rural women make a living by utilizing the natural resources around them. This study argues that the higher the level of education of the woman at the rural area, the greater their involvement in resource exploitation. I offer the social capabilities based approach as a theoretical foundation of the study. Data were collected through interview and Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The choice of interview and FGD was to guarantee effective participation since greater percentage of the respondents was of little or no formal education. Data collected were analysed with simple percentage and polemics as well as tabular and graphic expressions. The analysis revealed that women with basic and intermediate education exploited forest resources more for commercial purposes with the aim of generating adequate revenue for economic empowerment while women with limited or no formal education exploited forest resources more for subsistence. The study recommends among others the reintroduction of adult and non formal education at the rural areas of Nigeria.

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