Why are Nigerian women hustling more than men?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

The data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigerian women are more unemployed than men, at the ratio of 16.3% and 12.3% respectively. Also, more women are underemployed than men, at the ratio of 24.2% to 17.9% respectively. As noted in the report, this is a continuation of the trend for both genders.

Given the nature of our society, the higher unemployment values for women are not necessarily surprising. The greater populations of the country are women, and women and girls have a lower enrollment in tertiary institutions which award degrees usually set as criteria for traditional employment.

However, the difference between the underemployment figures between men and women show an interesting discovery: Nigerian women hustle more than Nigerian men.

Yes, and this theory is solely on the basis of the data provided. Defining a ‘hustle’ by the same meaning used in describing underemployment, namely doing work that may be below one’s expected qualification, the NBS data shows that of the figures of the totals of the unemployed and underemployed for men and women, the contribution of underemployment to each total is higher for women than for men.

This may loosely be interpreted to imply that women are likely to engage in more menial jobs than men, and would that be true?

Let’s consider: The Report says that full-time housewives are not considered as part of the labour force, as they are not actively seeking employment. However, in situations where the income of their husbands drop off the threshold of survival or they lose their jobs entirely, it becomes very likely that those housewives either take up a hoe to the garden or set up a stall on the street.

Then, one may say that women are more likely to take up the greater proportion of all menial and stop-gap jobs that can be considered, from part-time cleaning to handcrafts. In tertiary institutions, for instance, there is the greater possibility of finding ladies who make their fellow student’s hairs and do the make-up than of boys who cut hair and – well, nothing else really.

These will have to be proved by some Research but it is not incredulous to have this hypothesis as an explanation.

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