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Women economic and social empowerment has become very topical in Nigeria’s development since last thirty years or so.  The general objective of this research work is to examine the instrumentality of cooperatives for women economic empowerment in Awgu local government Area of Enugu State, among the specific objectives are :  To Find out why women join or form co-operative societies; To find out the types of co-operative societies women most often form or join; To determine extent to which these co-operative societies promote the members economically; To identify the problems which confront women co-operatives; Make recommendations based on the findings on how the efficiency of the women co-operative societies can be enhanced. The questioners was used to obtain data from 244 women respondents. The data generated were analyzed using tables, frequencies and percentages, among the major findings were the following: Inadequate access to the land especially when they do not have husband,  Inadequate access to credit, wide  range of illiteracy among the women, lack of modern technology and over dependent on manual labour.  Sequel to the problems faced by the cooperative and their members. The following main recommendations were made: The women cooperative and their members should be given adequate financial and moral support.  The government should provide women with formal and informal education bearing in mind that if women are educated, the nation is educated as well.  All traditional and cultural practices which are barriers to women active economic participation should be stopped.  More and more women should be registered into viable women co-operatives to empower them through the provision of adequate credit, production inputs, storage, processing and marketing facilities. Finally, the study offers solution by recommending ways through which co-operative as an instrument empowers  women.








Co-operative is an autonomous association of person United voluntary to meet their common social and cultural needs and aspirations through owned and democratically controlled enterprises (ICA 1995).  Co-operative are based on the value of self help, self responsibility democracy, equally and solidarity. It is a business owned and controlled equally by the people who work there.

Co-operative are dedicated to the values of openness, social responsibility and caring for others such as legal entities have a range of social characteristics, membership is open, meaning that any one who satisfies certain non discriminatory conditions may join.

Before independence in 1960, women were born for subordination and obedience to their parents to begin with her husbands then to their children later and to their duties always.  But currently, apart form their domestic duties; women are also variable human resources for meaningful development. Gone are those days when women were confined primarily as house wives and symbols of wealth to the men/husbands.  The increases in women activism and sprouting of women’s organization led to formation of an umbrella organization for all women’s society, which started in Nigeria in 1957 for the purpose of integration of different women organization into development process so that they can interact with the government and even with the outside world in order to get support and aid.

Co-operative brings women together for empowerment and to gain support and form government. In order words, co-operative is a virtual instrument for women empowerment and realization of the vital role of women in t field or agriculture, education, health and commerce.  The needs to properly organize, equip and increase the potentials of women towards national development become inevitable.  It is certain that co-operative society plays are increasingly significant role in satisfying materials, social and political need of the rural and urban women in Nigeria in the Third National Development Plan (1975-1980), the Federal Republic of Nigeria made a policy objective of fostering the growth of cooperatives as an instrument for achieving increased agricultural productivity and rural transformation.  Some of these programmes  such as The Better Life for Rural Women Programme, The family Support Programme (FSP) Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) are specific strategies by the government to ensure women  active participation in development.  Co-operative societies are organized economic groups which are created to accomplish one or more functions, including facilitating, production, marketing, purchasing, supplying and the provision of credit facilities to its members.

Writing in (1981:114), Ijere(1981:114) Lamented that we were yet to experience women’s full participation in co-operative societies.


Women provide the backbone of rural economy in much of sub-Saharan Africa where about 80% of the economically active female labour force is employed in agriculture (Gamorthy and Pithadia, 2007).  According to them, women are responsible for 70% of food production, 50% of domestic food storage, 100% of food processing 50% of animal husbandry and 60% of agricultural marketing. All these notwithstanding, many African women paradoxically are living in abject poverty and form the larger segment of the society that disproportionately represented below the poverty line (Corbelt, 2006). This is the result of several factors or barriers.  These include inadequate access to land, especially when they do not have husbands; inadequate access to credit; production inputs, extension services, lack of modern technology and thus over dependence on manual labour; their heavy home duties their marginalization when it comes to the benefiting from their labour.

Co-operative societies as proven veritable instruments for development, could be the answer to solving some of these  difficulties women face in their quest for economic empowerment.


The general objective of the study is to examine how women in Agwu local government Area can be economically empowered through cooperative societies.  The main specific objectives are:

  1. To find out why women join or form co-operative societies;
  2. To find out the types of co-operative societeis women most often form (or join).
  • To determine the extent to which these co-operative societies promote the members economically.
  1. To identify the problems which confront women cooperative.
  2. To Make recommendations based on the findings on how the efficiency of the women co-operative societies can be enhanced.


  1. Why do women in Agwu form (or join) co-operative societies in the study area?.
  2. What types of co-operative societies in Agwu local government do women normal form or join.
  3. To what extent have these co-operative societies promoted members economically?
  4. What challenges do these societies face?
  5. What recommendations are needed to improve on the efficiency of these co-operatives?


This study is very important particularly now that all levels of government are interested in getting women more involved in rural and national development and a lot of emphasis is being placed on research on women participation in national life, not only in the country but also at the international level.  There are  number of stakeholders and interested parties who/which can benefit from the findings and recommendations of this research project.  Government at all levels will find the findings and recommendations of interest, because they can guide them in policy making various spheres of national life.  Development partners, including foreign governments, and international organizations and NGOs can benefit from the information and Data contained in this work as they will serve as a source of information. Researchers and students  interested in women in development (W.I.N) and co-operatives can equally find this project of some interest and can serve in some cases as the foundation for further research and /or for comparison purposes.   The general public can also find this research project of some interest since it provide information and date on women participation and development a subject matter which almost every citizen shows interest in. women themselves and their association will also find this work of special rest since it pinpoints their contributions to development and also provides guidelines for their involvement in co-operatives. Co-operatives societies and their members can also benefit from this work since it critically examined certain issues concerning them.  The findings on the problems and recommendations can serve as guidelines to them for future decision and actions.


The research work is limited to Enugu Awgu local government area of Enugu State and spans between 2007-2014, a period of seven years, the main issues discussed are; the reasons why women form or join cooperative societies; the types of cooperative societies they form or join; the extent these co-operative have promoted women, the problems faced by these co-operatives and the necessary recommendations.

The researcher faced a number of challenges when writing this project the literature review was difficult to write because the university library is deplete of the necessary books and references materials.

Secondly, it was difficult to get the cooperation of the respondents namely the director of co-operatives in Enugu state; the co-operative societies in Awgwu Local Government Area and the members of the societies. It took a lot of time to finally get their co-operation.


Definitions of the terms or the underlisted terms are used in this work.

  1. Co-operative Society: the international cooperative Alliance  (ICA; 1995) has defined a persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises  “(ICA, 1995).
  2. Women Empowerment: Promoting actions and activities to improve the education and development of women civil political, social-cultural and economic sectors etc.
  3. National Development: This refers to the ability of a country or countries to improve the social welfare of the people, for example by providing social amenities like good education, infrastructure, medical care and social services.
  4. ENLIGHTMENT: This involve creating awareness getting people aware of the current happening. It is very important for modernization and changes.



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