Developing Countries and Women's Empowerment - The Smiling Heart

Developing Countries and Women’s Empowerment

Encouraging women to become entrepreneurs is absolutely vital for a country to grow and develop. Hence, a strong focus must be placed on including women into different economic activities. One person who lives and breathes this is Nenadi Esther Usman. She is now seen as a true role model for women all over the world.

Who Is Nenadi Esther Usman?

Senator Nenadi Esther is a former finance minister from the Southern Kaduna state in Nigeria. She is, therefore, a woman in political power, but particularly a minister in the economic and financial world, through which she aims to make the world a better place for women in particular. Born Nenadi Esther, she married Mr Usman in an interfaith ceremony. As Esther Nenadi Usman, she now aims to empower other women in Kaduna and the rest of Nigeria to be the best they can be.

Empowering Women into Economics

It is a known fact that developing countries are home to large female populations and that they are willing to be involved in economics and very capable of doing just that. Microcredit is a strong tool to achieve this, something that Esther Nenadi has looked into a lot. Microfinancing has offered many women to build their enterprises, thereby also supporting national economies, while at the same time ensuring microfinancers are able to earn their money back.

52% of the African population, or 805 million people, are women. This, according to Esther Usman, is key to understanding why they should be entered into the economy. Microcredit is a fantastic way to achieve this. She cites studies of the Nigerian Yoruba women, in which it was shown that they have traditionally been part of trade and commerce, even before colonial times. In fact, two types of female traders exist in their culture:

  1. Alarobo, petty traders.
  2. Aljapa, itinerant traders.

Both types are recognized as being very shrewd businesspeople and they have traditionally been involved in governing the regions as well. Interestingly, microfinancing seems to be the methods they used to set up, or at least a system that could now be recognized as microfinancing.

The 2004 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) stated that just 6% of the highly placed positions in Africa were taken up by women. 23% of women work in service branches. Only 5% are found in industry. Most women work in agricultural branches in the main, which is obviously due to the fact that this is the most available industry, but also because it allows a woman to directly provide for her family through agricultural produce.

There are significant other problems affecting the average African woman. Poor access to education, unequal access to health care, the risk of violence (including sexual violence), and more, all have to be addressed. But, according to Esther Nenadi, empowering women to take control of their own finances is a very important step towards achieving further equality as well. She believes that, once women become the boss of their own purse, they will demand to be boss of their own life as well.