When you arrived at the Institute you probably had a concrete idea or plan of what you would like to achieve during your stay. Were you able to pursue these plans? Did there emerge new, unforeseen directions?
My primary aim at IAS was to interrogate Nigeria’s poverty reduction program (cash transfers) from a gender perspective using six states in Nigeria as case studies. Because poverty impacts men and women differently, my goal was to determine the extent to which the Nigerian government’s cash transfers considered gender poverty and the “gender-responsive” strategies adopted in the design and implementation of the cash transfers. While I came to Budapest with data from field works conducted in Nigeria, literature reviews and data analysis were done at IAS. My project was quite ambitious, but my ambition fueled me to accomplish my aim. I successfully presented my research findings while at IAS, and one of the articles I wrote, based on my findings, has been published.
More generally speaking, who or what influenced your work and research path the most?
I cannot but mention the gender system that produces, reproduces, sustains, and justifies gender inequality, where women play second fiddle. In Nigeria, gender discrimination is prevalent, and its damaging effects on women based on “experiences” and “facts” evoked my interest and the move to interrogate (through empirical research) persistent gender discrimination. With my preliminary discoveries revealing “multiple layers (like an onion bulb) yet to be peeled” to gain an in-depth understanding of the forces behind gender discrimination and inequality, I am on a “voyage of exploration.” Nigeria’s slow progress towards gender equality is not encouraging. Consequently, I immerse myself in research with policy recommendations that can assist my government in the design and implementation of policies that support gender equality in the truest sense of it.
To which debates or schools of thought do you see your research contributing?
I contribute to the debate on gender equality and women’s rights. While this debate has been on for several decades, wide gender gaps still exist. Since 1975, when the First World Conference on Women was held in Mexico City, and several other Conferences, such as the Fourth Conference in Beijing 1995, the United Nations has been raising awareness of the challenges confronting women across the world. Although the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was signed by several countries, its domestic applicability faces great challenges. Millennium Development Goal 3 (Gender Equality and Women Empowerment) was not realized in 2015 and with less than 7 years to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda and no significant progress on Goal 5 (Gender Equality) in Nigeria, my research throws lights on the roadblocks to gender equality in Nigeria. I have published several journal articles and book chapters on women’s rights and gender inequality in Nigeria that laid the foundation for my current studies.
How do you see your field of research today? How is it evolving?
My research has broadened and is progressively moving in a new direction. It currently takes an interdisciplinary and multidimensional approach to the analysis of gender issues. Today, I am interested more in policy-oriented research, where I could leverage my research to inform the programming and policy works of my government in areas of gender inequality and women’s rights. Arising from my project at IAS, I saw the need to work closely with government departments and units responsible for policy designs and implementation of poverty reduction programs and act as a bridge between the academic research world and policymakers. I am also concentrating more on field research. My project at IAS increasingly relied on data from field works (I gathered most data firsthand), though not excluding documentary sources. In addition, my research is currently expanding to incorporate the voices of both genders to gain a balanced understanding of gender issues in my country, Nigeria.
What’s next for you after IAS CEU Budapest (if we may ask)?
Before I took up the IAS Core Fellowship, I got a leave of absence from my home university (Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti – ABUAD). First, I must return to my home University to continue my primary assignment as a Lecturer. Second, I intend to engage (gradually) in more field studies in Nigeria to obtain data from more states that participated in the cash transfers program for comparative analysis with the first six states I studied. Obtaining and analyzing the “new data” would most certainly result in writing more articles for journal publication. Third, I would love to work on my proposed book on "Gender and Poverty in Nigeria" and possibly source for a fellowship (though not at the moment) where I can devote more time to complete the book outside teaching and other university engagements. Concerning my proposed book, I did some literature reviews while at IAS, and the book has also been organized into chapters (10 chapters for now, but it could be less). Lastly, as new ideas emerge and opportunities arise in my field, I am pretty sure that I will want to explore them, other things being equal.
If there were one book or film you could recommend to the reader, what would that be and why?
There are several interesting and amazing books that I have come across, but since you asked for one, I recommend a book entitled Voices of the Poor: Can Anyone Hear Us? written by Narayan, Deepa, with Patel, Raj; Schafft, Kai; Rademacher, Anne, and Koch-Schulte, Sarah and published by Oxford University Press. Narayan et al. wrote brilliantly on understanding poverty from the perspectives of the poor. The book presented, firsthand, “the poor” and their experiences of poverty. The book argues against engaging in poverty reduction programs without listening to the voices of the poor. This is because experiences of poverty differ, and interpreting poverty to mean the same for every person is misleading. I found the book not just appealing but its thesis sound. I strongly recommend the book to researchers, institutions, and individuals interested in contributing to poverty reduction in any way.