Female empowerment is an economic process that involves empowering Nigerian women as a poverty reduction measure. Empowerment is the development of women in term of politics, social and economic strength in nation development. It is also a way of reducing women vulnerability and dependency in all sphere of life. It can be noted that the aggregate of educational, political, health and legal empowerment are key to women empowerment in Nigeria. Like many African women, Nigerian women do not have as much opportunity as their male counterparts. There are twice as many women below the poverty line than men, and up to 19 times as many men in executive positions than women.
Within the formal economy, women hold 4 of every 10 jobs and earn on average Women-owned enterprises (WOEs) tend to be smaller, are more likely to be informal and/or home-based, and often lack access to credit, resources and assets. Such enterprises are more likely to be found in low-profit and low-economic growth sectors, such as retail, beauty and food service. In addition to WOEs being smaller in number, they also often do not perform as well as male-owned firms. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women-owned businesses tend to fail at a higher rate than those owned by men.
There are a number of reasons for these different outcomes including firm size and access to capital, as well WOEs being concentrated in sectors characterised by fewer barriers to entry, lower profit margins and lower returns on capital. Genders gaps are also as a result of women’s lack of information, confidence, role models, access to networks and connections markets and women’s higher unpaid care responsibilities. A major constraint, however, is access to finance. In Nigeria, for example, there are gender differences when it comes to access to resources for business start-ups and expansion, difficulties in getting credit and loans. When coupled with the fact that as well as women’s businesses have fewer employees and shorter business longevity than their male counterparts, the gap becomes even wider.
In Nigeria, women are significantly underrepresented in formal waged employment in both the private and public sectors—in 2007, only 32.5% of women were employed in the (non-agricultural) private sector and less than 30 per cent were in the public sector with only 17 per cent found in senior positions.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, the 2016 UN HLP Report on Women’s Economic Empowerment highlights that women are less likely than men to own small- or medium-sized enterprises, with only 20 per cent of firms in the poorest countries having female owners. Data from the IFC suggests that in the Global South, women own about one-third of micro firms (fewer than 10 employees), one-third of all small firms (10–49 employees) and one-fifth of medium-size firms (50–250 employees). Within the formal economy, ILO data for 134 countries indicates that WOEs range from none in countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to as high as 66 per cent in Namibia. Looking specifically at Nigeria, in 2014, there were 16.2% of small firms with female participation in ownership and 13.9% with majority female ownership.