Global Resources

Socio-cultural practices as barriers to women participation in trade union activities in Nigeria

Author: Toyin Adefolaju
Publisher: International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Research
Publication Date: Jan 2016

This paper examines the role of Nigerian women in trade union activities by exploring the internal workings of major industrial unions in Nigeria . The aim is to outline women’s status in the socio-economic development of the country, ascertain the level of women’s participation in trade unions, identify barriers inhibiting women’s participation, and outline strategies that can enhance women’s participation. Using a multi-stage random sampling technique, 640 workers were selected, and data gathered through a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. The study also reviews additional literature, and reveals that a minuscule fraction of women workers actively participate in trade union activities in Nigeria due to a number of socio-cultural factors.


The study finds that Nigerian women are willing partners in socio-economic development, rising on a wave of changing attitudes and empowerment. Yet despite their slowly increasing entry into industry and labour unions, women still face significant barriers and union participation remains abysmally low. This allows patriarchal views to persistently reproduce themselves, and leaves discriminatory cultural attitudes around gender to remain largely unchallenged. Since women are willing to be part of trade unionism, it is important to create and sustain an enabling environment that will allow this to happen. Doing so should comprise of:

  • Educating more girls and women to prepare them for the future task of national development.

  • Women entering industry with the empowered intention of mainstreaming themselves into all activities within it, including trade unionism.

  • Trade unions encouraging more women to participate in their affairs by holding their meetings where and when is convenient for women.

  • Unions discarding patriarchal values that tend to discriminate against women.

  • Experienced female unionists mentoring a new generation of women trade unionists.