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Nigeria - Docs & News


Naomi Shute photoBorn in Nigeria, lives in Germany.
BA Buss. & Computing
Roehampton University London
Msc. Interdisciplinary European Studies
with dual degree from University of Flensburg/Southern Danish University.

I was born and grew up in Nigeria. Later on I moved to London and studied Business and Computing at Roehampton University London. In London I was involved with Nigerian associations, raising funds for maternity units and for hospital equipments such as beds and incubators.  From an early age I was interested in women and children issues and I volunteered with a “Women’s Group” in Kaduna whose aim is to provide the women with basic skills, knowledge of hygiene and promotion of their products.  The products were promoted and sold in Bazaars twice a year. I was also one of the committee members of the Nigerian Union who in cooperation with the Nigerian High Commissioner negotiated to bring the break-away branches of the Union together.                                                                                                                       

After working a few years in London with an international export/import company, an IT company and the British Transport Police, I moved to Germany. A year later I started my Masters in interdisciplinary European Studies at the University of Flensburg, which I completed with a Dual Degree of the Flensburg University and the Southern Danish University.

SistaEnable in Nigeria
Women in Nigeria lack the general knowledge, education and work that lead to their independence.
Any promotion of the SistaEnable easy-access-info will empower the women here.
Locating SistaEnable Social Store Cafés “Mama’s Garage” will help women identify and encourage them to move on.

Impacting Women through small projects
My personal believe is that women can play a very important role in many male dominated societies.  With a stronger involvement of women in decision-making there will be less corruption, less wars that cause devastation, less violence and less hunger.

As an ambassador for SistaEnable in Nigeria my goal is to help women open our cafés and I will promote small-size projects with direct positive outcome.  Through these small projects local women will be able to sell their products, which will benefit the family directly with no middle persons or institutions. 

Many women die during childbirth or they loose their children because they cannot afford hospital bills but if they have the opportunity to run their own small business successfully, it can give them financial freedom, eradicate poverty and illiteracy, create jobs in the community and promote economic growth. When a woman has the means to care for her family, infant deaths and malnutrition will be reduced. 

Every time I visit Nigeria I am constantly confronted with issues such as:

  • Poverty
  • Health problems
  • Corruption
  • Lack of  education
  • Violence

One of the reasons that attracted me to SistaEnable (Sustainable) is the idea of promoting and empowering women through small projects.  Such projects have the potential to change the lives of women everywhere.
Also, I hope to open a “Mama’s Garage” in Flensburg, Germany and in Nigeria.

This is why I am excited to be involved with SistaEnable. 


Written by Helle Duus Alex.

Women's social role in Nigeria differs according to religious and geographic factors.

Northern Nigeria

In the north, Islamic practices were still common. This process meant, generally, less formal education; early teenage marriages, especially in rural areas; and confinement to the household, which was often polygynous, except for visits to family, ceremonies, and the workplace, if employment were available and permitted by a girl's family or husband. For the most part, Hausa women did not work in the fields, whereas Kanuri women did; both helped with harvesting and were responsible for all household food processing.

  1. Urban women sold cooked foods, usually by sending young girls out onto the streets or operating small stands. Research indicated that this practice was one of the main reasons city women gave for opposing schooling for their daughters. Even in elite houses with educated wives, women's presence at social gatherings was either nonexistent or very restricted. In the modern sector, a few women were appearing at all levels in offices, banks, social services, nursing, radio, television, and the professions (teaching, engineering, environmental design, law, pharmacy, medicine, and even agriculture and veterinary medicine).

This trend resulted from women's secondary schools, teachers' colleges, and in the 1980s women holding approximately one-fifth of university places—double the proportion of the 1970s. Research in the 1980s indicated that, for the Muslim north, education beyond primary school was restricted to the daughters of the business and professional elites, and in almost all cases, courses and professions were chosen by the family, not the woman themselves.

Southern Nigeria

A Nigerian woman balancing market goods on her head.

In the south, women traditionally had economically important positions in interregional trade and the markets, worked on farms as major labor sources, and had influential positions in traditional systems of local organization. The south, like the north, had been polygynous; in 1990 it still was for many households, including those professing Christianity.

Women in the south, especially among the Yoruba peoples, had received Western-style education since the nineteenth century, so they occupied positions in the professions and to some extent in politics. In addition, women headed households, something not seriously considered in Nigeria's development plans. Such households were more numerous in the south, but they were on the rise everywhere.

Recognition by authorities

Generally, Nigerian development planning referred to "adult males," "households," or "families". Women were included in such units but not as a separate category. Up until the 1980s, the term "farmer" was assumed to be exclusively male, even though in some areas of the south women did most of the farm work. In Nigerian terms, a woman was almost always defined as someone's daughter, wife, mother, or widow.

Single women were suspect, although they constituted a large category, especially in the cities, because of the high divorce rate. Traditionally, and to some extent this remained true in popular culture, single adult women were seen as available sexual partners should they try for some independence and as easy victims for economic exploitation. In Kaduna State, for example, investigations into illegal land expropriations noted that women's farms were confiscated almost unthinkingly by local chiefs wishing to sell to urban-based speculators and would-be commercial farmers.

Women's advocacy]

A national feminist movement was inaugurated in 1982, and a national conference held at Ahmadu Bello University. The papers presented there indicated a growing awareness by Nigeria's university-educated women that the place of women in society required a concerted effort and a place on the national agenda; the public perception, however, remained far behind.

For example, a feminist meeting in Ibadan came out against polygyny and then was soundly criticized by market women, who said they supported the practice because it allowed them to pursue their trading activities and have the household looked after at the same time. Research in the north indicated that many women opposed the practice, and tried to keep bearing children to stave off a second wife's entry into the household. Although women's status would undoubtedly rise, for the foreseeable future Nigerian women lacked the opportunities of men.