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Women! Women!! Women!!! All over the world, governments, organisations and individuals are talking gender sensitivity. Everywhere one turns, people are becoming more aware of the need for the woman folk to get off the back-burner and make a more visible and meaningful impact in decision-making structure and procedures.1

According to the 1991 population census, women, comprise approximately 51% of Nigerian population. Yet they continue to be ostensibly under-represented as to their views, interests and participation in the nation’s development process. Therefore, the long clamour for the full and active participation of women in all areas of national endeaviour, an particularly in the development arena, is welcome and well-founded. 2

However, like every good proposition or ideas, without the solid foundation of well thought out and focused objectives, guidelines and methods, the women question runs the risk of becoming a caricature of the idea and therefore superficial in its reach. 3 while we call for the participation of women in development, what we often see is mere patronage. Women do not need, neither should they be content with token development crumbs condescending needed down as favours by the existing power structure, that is patronage 4.  

The granting of favours, for whatever reason constitutes an exercise in windows dressing.5 This cosmetically makes over the very seriously entrenched socially disadvantages positions that the tast majority of women hold in the real world. 6

            Women feel they are being marginalized, oppressed, trampled upon, suppressed, denied and often times enslaved by their male counterparts. This is a gender conflict that needs to be addressed.

Even the, United Nation, as the umbrella body of the civilized world acknowledges this. In 1946, the body set up a commission on the status of women, with the aim of focusing on the promotion of women’s rights in political, economy, social and education fields. 7

            The point is that women exist amidst external environments, and these environments must be perceived as integral to the women in development concept. Neglecting development issues when speaking of women is just as bad as neglecting women when speaking of development yet some development and some sex/gender approaches persist in doing both. 8

            “Women in development” is an inclusive term used through out in this study to signify a concept whose long-range goal is the well-being of the society, the community of man, women and children”. 9 Its formulation is based on the following suppositions.

  • Development in accordance with the international Development strategy for the second development decades means to bring about sustained improvement in the well-being of the individual and to bestow benefits on all.
  • Because women comprise more than half of the world’s human resources and are central to the economic as well as to the social well being of societies, development goals cannot be fully reached without their participation.
  • Women and development is thus a holistic concept wherein the goal for one cannot be achieved without the success of the other.
  • Women therefore must have both legal right and access to existing and the means for the improvement of oneself and society.

Over the years, there has been a great debate as to what extent Ibibio women had contribute to the development of the colonial economy. While it could be argued from two opposing ends, it is important to study this sociological problem with a view to finding if women have actually been contributing to development.

This research sheds more light on the predicament of the Nigerians women in trying to gain recognition in her society. This study therefore sets out inquire into the role of Ibibio women in development during the colonial period (1900-1960).

The contribution of Ibibio women to the development of the colonial economy (1900-1960) provides a good starting point for this investigation of women in development, it can boast of a fairly rich source of development activities embarked upon by women. These records give ample evidence of a female population that has not only been industrious and resourceful, but which also has demonstrated significant and distinguished contribution with the society.

Although this study selects only Ibibio women’s contribution to the development of the colonial economy, it attempts to cover a wide spectrum of human situations to how the female predicament and how women fare in the various sphere in which they operate. Inspite of the problem, the available evidence has revealed certain traits that are common to most Nigerian women. They picture, that has emerged is one of outstanding courage and industry. The study is another window to the great variety of roles which women have played in the development of their nations and people.


The overall objective of this study is to make a contribution to the subject matter of women in development. The purpose is to forge a holistic and gender sensitive analysis of the development processes. The study provides invaluable information on Ibibio women, documents their experiences, obstacles in their way. It also exposes the intricacies of the development processes and such difficulties that abound in the quest for recognition. This study has also been conducted to established those areas women have made great impact and to encourage other women to participate in development activities. The study will equally help women to look positively at what they have to offer and how they can build on their past and present experiences for themselves. It also aimed at integrating more women into development and encouraging women not to relent on their efforts not rest on their laurels.

The objectives of the study are three folds:

  1. Assess the social, political, and economy development process of Ibibioland within the period.
  2. To ascertain if women do contributes, to development as opposed to the erstwhile erroneous assumptions that development is synonymous with men.
  • To identity the major constraints to Ibibio women participation in the development of the colonial economy

Finally, this study serve as a guide to policy makers, administrators, scholars on women affairs etc on how best to tackle women in development issues and how to encourage women to participate more in development.


In keeping with the objective of this study, the focus is mainly on the contribution of Ibibio women to the development of colonial economy (1900-1960). That is their strength, and role in the socio-economy development in the society, the  household, the factors which  determine their participation, the question of the relationship between woman’s participatory development and that of the men, their contribution to social, economic, political, development and the benefits accruing to them, the way of improving these benefits and modalities for uplifting the welfare of women in the society will be attempted.

For the purpose of convenience and clarity, this research shall consider the contribution of Ibibio women to the development of the colonial economy and terminates at the on-set of the post colonial era. (1900-1960). The changes Ibibio women attended during the period under review were predicated upon the result of the missionary enterprise and attendant impact in terms of western educations, Christianity, new vocation as, well as the actualization of the Ibibio society with the capitalist world economy.

During the period many traditional ties and values had slackened owing to the introduction of Christian doctrine.

As research of the nature often portrays, a number of indices during the course of study conspired to impede and impinge on data collection for the study. Paramount among these during oral interviews was the tendency on the part of the respondents to withhold useful information. There were also constrains regarding the conduct of extensive interviews. The area of study was quite expansive and finances were glossy inadequate thus, constituting set backs in the location of sources of data. Be that as it may, the data gathered from the sources at the researcher’s disposal still suffered.


This study entitled The contributions of Ibibio women to the development of colonial economy (1900-1960) is very crucial to Ibibio and Nigerian’s social histories especially in the light to the present study.

Although considerable research has been carried out about Ibibio’s particularly about their origin, migratory routes, language and settlement pattern, none in their entirety, have been wholly committed to the theme or dealt specifically on it.

For this reason, the study is very relevant as it seeks to seal the right in the historiography of Ibibio land. This study seeks to unearth the prime contribution of Ibibio women to the development of the colonial economy (1900-1960). This is sequence to the assumption that almost every literature on Ibibio was focuses on the contribution of men to the colonial economy (1900-1960). This is sequence to the assumption that almost every literature on Ibibio was focused on the contribution of men to the society’s neglecting the women. This revelation in itself will constitute a significant contribution to Ibibio social history.

The findings of this study will constitute a variable source of information, thereby enlarging, the mass of existing literature on Ibibio historiography. Moreover the study has the potentials in feminizing gender studies and gender relations as such will contribute to knowledge in the sphere of Nigeria’s social history.


Having observed the development role of women and their primary role from inception to the society. It was observed that the colonial Ibibio women have transformed immensely to the external of beating our imagination. These could be seen in their educational attainment, population growth, technology and feminine regime.

A consideration of the historical, social and cultural institutions of women in Ibibio land exposes that there were gender equality of both sexes in pre-colonial times.

As the society moved away from this well ordered society towards modernity due to European influences, the fabric that held Ibibio women bound stated to disintegrate. It was the external factors like slave trade, western education, Christianity as well as the new form of patriarchal concept introduced in Ibibio land under colonialisation that accentuated the alienation of women.

As event unfold, Ibibio women started belonging to groups, organization, trade and commerce. This awareness charges the women horizon, they started acquiring Western educations, their scope and knowledge began to change. It is this changing role from the colonial epoch of transition that this paper attempts to X-rayed, to examine if there was any change in the transition of Ibibio women to the economy development of the society in general and Ibibioland in particular. To seek to established the changing pattern of gender relations among the Ibibio between 1900-1960.

Most importantly, it seeks to examine the prime contributions of Ibibio women to the economy development of the society. This is predicated on the fact that economic development is centered on human, and it is devoid of gender exclusivity.

It was therefore as a result of this changes and surprising developmental role in the gender qualities of women that make me to undergo this study.

It has been generally observed that Ibibio women have shown excellent industry in their ability and resolve to be actively involved in the activities favoured by the men. How can these equal relations be sustained? What are the factors that impringe on the economic development role of Ibibio women to the society specifically. These are some of the questions which this study sets out to answer during the period under review.


In the course of writing this project, the multidisciplinary approach which is the very and desirable character of effective scholarship is adopted, recourse was made to other disciplines such as sociology, economics, political science, literary arts, religion, psychology and anthropology. Efforts were made to garner useful materials through primary and secondary sources.


From 1960-1975 a number of studies about women were carried out by academic, male and female Nigerian and Non-Nigerians which built up data on the history; ethnography, demography, economic activities and legal status of women in Nigerians as a separate category. Research was fragmentary uncoordinated and generally focused on localized case histories and empirical studies.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


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