Gender and Economy in the Niger Delta: An Examination of the Role of Women in Sustaining a Region in Conflict
The discourse on the structure of the economy and the drivers of growth in different African societies is underlined by patriarchy. The dominant view is often that men are at the heart of the productive and profitable sectors of the society, hence the skewed power relations and visibility of men in all organs of the society. While this framework seems to typify patriarchal societies in different African nations, it overshadows the tenacity of women in conflict-ridden societies where men focus mainly on the execution of war and combat roles rather than on the economic survival of their families and society. In the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, years of grassroots struggle against the state and mining companies over oil wealth and the environment have shifted economic relations hitherto dominated by men, and created a platform where women have become visible participants in the economy. This paper looks at the role of women in the economy of local communities of the Niger Delta. Analyses of the decades-old conflict have often been limited to male-led military, political and environmental struggles between major actors in the conflict, with little attention paid to the role of women in the economic survival of the region. The paper uses both ethnographic and secondary data collected from Egbema community and its neighbours in the northern Niger Delta region.