OCCUPATIONAL DIVERSIFICATION AMONG RURAL WOMEN IN ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA
The survey was undertaken to examine occupational diversification among rural women in Anambra State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study identified various areas of occupational diversification among rural women; ascertained reasons for occupational diversification; ascertained modes of occupational entry for each occupational area; ascertained the influence of human capital attributes on occupational diversification; and identified problems faced by rural women in occupational diversification. Three hypotheses were proposed and tested, namely; there is no significant relationship between socio-economic factors and occupational diversification among rural women; there are no significant differences between farm income and non-farm income of rural women; there is no significant relationship between occupational diversification and nearness to urban markets. The survey was carried out in Anambra State, Nigeria. The population of the study comprised rural women in the four agricultural zones. All the four agricultural zones were used for the study. Two blocks were selected from each of the zones, while three (3) circles were selected from each of the blocks using simple random sampling. In each of the circles, 20 rural women were selected using simple random sampling. Eight (8) blocks and 24 circles, comprising 480 respondents were used for the study. Interview schedule/questionnaire was used for data collection. Eighteen copies of the questionnaire were not filled properly and were dropped leaving 462 for analysis. Data were analysed using percentage, mean score, standard deviation, factor analysis, students’ t-test, correlation and multiple linear regression analysis. The findings revealed that majority of respondents (88.7%) were involved in both farm and non-farm occupations such as planting of crops, raising of farm animals, processing of farm produce, petty trading, tailoring, among others. The major reasons for occupational diversification were grouped into infrastructural, production, marketing and socio-economic factors. The study further revealed that the respondents were constrained by labour, institutional, technical and social problems. Despite the fact that non-farm activities yield high returns, farming still remains the primary occupation of the respondents. The study recommends that government at both state and federal level should improve the efficiency and performance of the rural women in occupational diversification by ensuring that adequate rural infrastructure such as roads, electricity and pipe-borne water are put in place and highlights the need to establish vocational skill acquisition centres in rural areas in order to empower women with necessary skills to be gainfully employed in non-farm occupations for higher returns.