Nigerian women’s entrepreneurial activity outpaces that of men by percent according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Gender Centre of Excellence survey report.
The report revealed that 22 percent women own sole proprietorships as a share of total businesses, 82 percent of working women work in the informal sector and less than 14 percent of Nigerian firms have female top managers.
There are 53 million adult Nigerian women, of which 33 million (61%) live in rural areas. The net enrolment rate at the primary school level is 56 percent for girls and 61 percent for boys.
The report noted that 39 percent of women have some secondary education, 8.3 percent of women are enrolled in post-secondary education, and 49 percent of them are in the labour force.
Nigerian women earn 42 percent less than men, 53 percent overall literacy rate for women (34% for rural women); 71 percent for men, the report stated.
The report showed that 19 percent of Nigerian women are exposed to cultural discrimination and domestic violence, 5 percent are exposed to early marriages, and 2 percent experience unequal family inheritance.
Financial inclusion is on the rise globally, accelerated by mobile phones and the internet, but gaps remain. Account ownership has reached 76 percent of adults worldwide and 71 percent of adults in developing economies.
Despite this progress, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa reported 12 percent and 13 percent gender gaps, respectively, twice as large as the developing economy average and three times larger than the global average.
Nigeria’s gender gap, in particular, is widening, unlike comparator countries in Africa. Countries such as
Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda are gradually achieving gender parity in financial inclusion, as shown in the figure below. The relative gender gap for Nigeria, on the other hand, stands at 8 percent, placing Nigeria below its peers.
Since 2012, although women’s exclusion has dropped, the gender gap has grown, revealing that men’s inclusion has improved more rapidly than that of women.
According to the report, 24 million women have a Bank Verification Number (BVN) and, therefore, a formal bank account. Although BVN enrollment has grown at a 9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past four years, a gender gap of 5 percent still exists. Low BVN enrolment rates of women in Nigeria suggest that a large part of this population is excluded from accessing formal banking service.
Financial service agents appear to be the most preferred of all financial service points as they are more accessible, the report said. Compared to the global average of 53.26 per 100,000 adults, there are 16 ATMs in Nigeria for every 100,000 people and four bank branches per 100,000 adults compared to the global average of 60.7. Therefore, women are likely to choose more accessible access points like financial service agents, particularly in rural areas where the scarcity of ATMs and bank branches is more common. Nigeria has recorded a 22 percent increase in the number of agents available compared to the other access points.