Quality of life among rural Nigerian women: The role of information

Type Working Paper - DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Title Quality of life among rural Nigerian women: The role of information
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1531&context=libphilprac
It appears that the concept of quality of life is fast becoming a popular
concept worldwide including Nigeria. At first sight, quality of life is a simple,
straightforward construct. Most people have a reasonably clear idea of what
sorts of things would enhance their individual quality of life (and probably the
quality of life of other individuals too). There is an adage that says, “He who
wears the shoe knows where it pinches”. The quality of life of a person is what
he/she perceives it to be. For example, higher pay; longer holidays; more
satisfaction in our working lives; time to pursue enjoyable and satisfying leisure
pursuits; emotional fulfillment in relationships; and having a long healthy and
happy life – all within a safe, caring and supportive local community are among
the things people conceived as what could improve their quality of life.
Quality of life in the rural setting according to Phillips (2006) is a
multifaceted phenomenon determined by the cumulative and interactive impacts
of numerous and varied factors like housing conditions, infrastructure, access to
various amenities, income, standard of living, satisfaction about the physical and
social environment. According to this author, the two indicators of quality of life
which are subjective and objective are pointing to two different things. Subjective
indicator focuses on pleasure as the basic building block of human happiness
and satisfaction of quality of life. However, the objective indicator on the other
hand, focuses on a radically different perspective. To those who are working
with this indicator, the important question to ask at the individual level are
whether people are healthy, well fed, appropriately housed, economically secure
and well educated or not rather than whether they feel happy.
The fundamental concepts of quality of life according to Adejunmobi and
Odumosu (1998) are values. They play an important role in the experience of
qualitative life because they represent the needs, aspirations and goals which
are important to individuals and which they seek to fulfill. What quality of life
means on a global scale can be distilled from the social indicators identified by
major international organizations such as the World Bank, World Health
Organizations, United Nations, European System of Social Indicators and
Australian Bureau of statistics.
Given the importance of indicators for project monitoring and evaluation
in meeting a range of economic, social and environmental goals, the framework
for choice of indicators used to assess quality are adopted by the World Bank.
Such indicators are : economic growth, earnings growth; the absence of poverty
and unemployment; decent housing: health and life expectancy; an educated
population; high levels of cultural participation and low rate of crime; equity in
social opportunities and the absence of political corruption in the broader
context of responsible environmental management (World Development
Indicators , 2007).
The satisfaction derived from the various life domains directly contribute
to individual quality of life. The domains that are selected as indicators of quality
of life for this study are: housing, occupation, income, health, education,
neighbourhood/community, family life, government, social status and spiritual
life. They were selected because they are considered to be relevant to different
regions of structure of well-being in many studies. The judgments and
experience such as values and satisfactions derived from them are essential to
the overall feelings of qualitative life.
The concern for increasing the quality of life of the rural women in
Nigeria can be seen in the general concern to alleviate the socio-economic
status of the rural poor household. Many programmes sponsored by either the
national government or international agencies have been designed to improve
quality of life of the rural women in Nigeria. Worthy to mention is the
introduction of the Better life for Rural Women (BLW) in 1987 under late Mariam
Babangida, (the then Nigerian first lady) and the Family Economic Advancement
Programme (FEAP) under Mariam Abacha (the Nigerian first lady in 1993-97)
which were planned to play critical role in alleviating the status of rural women
in Nigeria, socially and economically. In recognition of the failure of the past
government efforts, some non-governmental organizations stepped up efforts
also to improve the quality of life among the women folks living in the rural
areas. Example is the Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN) which
started in Ondo State Nigeria in 1982 (Modupe , 2008). However, most of these
programmes have failed to ameliorate the working and living conditions of rural
women because women in rural areas for which such programmes were meant
lagged behind in terms of socio-economic advancement. The reason according
to Momodu, (2002) is that rural women in Nigeria have developed a culture of
silence, resignation and docility. This author stressed that rural women in
Nigeria are not inherently poor, nor doomed to ignorance and disease. Rather
they are blessed with massive fertile land and mineral resources and also a
huge and virile labour force, which can be transformed into goods and services.
The missing link, however, has been the absence of an effective information
system pattern for mobilizing and stimulating them into action with a view to
improving their quality of life.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, world leaders adopted
the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are the world’s timebound
and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many
dimensions – income, poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, etc
(UN Millennium Project, 2005). Many countries including developing countries
like Nigeria are on track to achieve at least some of the goals at the appointed
deadline of 2015. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,
many countries need to quickly improve their economic growth, education and
health systems, their management of environmental resources, and their
infrastructure for water, sanitation, telecommunication and transportation – all
these in place will improve the quality of life of the people (The World Bank,
2007).The role which information could play in achieving these goals cannot be
ignored. Information about the Millennium Development Goals will enable
stakeholders to plan, control, manage and implement actions that could further
enhance the quality of life of these rural women.
Appropriate information empowers people towards actions that can
transform lives and allows for a greater sense of independence. Rural women
need information of all types to improve the quality of their life and their
environment. Proper identification of the rural women information needs will
reduce uncertainty and enables them to identify alternative solution to problems,
adequate provision of information will also enable them to acquire more

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