Global Resources

Women education as tool for sustainable development: issues and prospects

Author: M. Shu'aibu, M. Ayuba
Publication Date: Jul 2015

Nigeria is a society in transition, and subject to a number of growth and development challenges, not least the systemic discrimination against women common to many developing countries. The best way to support this transition and advance human development is through education, particularly women’s education, so that Nigeria can make best use of its human resources rather than limit the productivity and contribution of one half of its population. That is the argument in this paper which explores the issues and prospects of focusing on woman education as a driver for sustainable development in Nigeria.


The paper presents a literature review to discuss girls participation in education, illustrating the positive impacts that can arise when girls are granted their human rights and allowed access to education. Also discussed is the debate on gender parity in education, conceptual frameworks, and the role of education in sustainable development, national unity, and integration.


A questionnaire was used to collect relevant data, and background information obtained from the respondents was interpreted and analyzed using t-test. The presentation and analysis of the results was carried out around the research questions that guided the study, namely: is there any significant difference in academic performance between students from educated mothers and those from illiterate mothers? And are there any significant difference in contribution to nation building between educated women and their male counterparts?


The null hypothesis of the study was that there was no discernable difference in either case. However, upon analysis, the author concluded that there was a significant discernable difference regarding both questions, thereby rejecting each null hypothesis. In each case, the results were more favourable on the side of educated mothers and women. From this, we can see the importance of women's education, both in terms of generational change and wider national development.


The authors note that despite these results, it has been been recognised  in many countries that the development process does not promote gender equity in the distribution of the benefits of economic growth, and that men are disproportionately benefiting at the expense of women. Women’s labour is too often seen as supplementary to that of men, leading to expectations that the development programme benefits will reach women via their husbands and men in their families. Furthermore, socio-cultural restrictions often inhibit women's active participation in the development process, an issue which has become a major focus of research and policy throughout the world.


A number of recommendations are made that, if actioned, can help drive sustainable development in Nigeria through education and women's empowerment. These include: the legislation of universal basic education (UBI) as a compulsory act, and free for every school-age child; punishment for parents who violate the compulsory UBI programme by denying their children education; constitutional provision for the fundamental human rights of women and girls, including education; ending economic discrimination, and allowing women equal property, employment, and financial rights; and ensuring, including via the constitution, that a reasonable number of political positions throughout the country are reserved for women.