By Godshield Kanjal
Across Nigeria, the butchery ‘industry’ is dominated by men, but three women are apparently breaking the stereotype in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
They believe in the popular Nigerian saying: “What a man can do, a woman can do, even better”.
They are Patience Bassey 27, Iniobong Ben 29, and Eneobong Monday 32.
These women are not just vocal in their trade; they have mastered their craft, and now command patronage from both male and female customers, while laughing all the way to the bank
For Patience Bassey, a full-time undergraduate who started the business seven years ago, her meat-selling business has been her only source of income, supporting her through university.
Patience, a native of Odukpani Local Government Area of the state, told Godshield Kanjal Journalism Foundation (GKJF): “I’m a 300-level student at the University of Cross River State, I am studying Education Administration and Planning
“I started this business seven years ago and this is where I feed and sponsor myself in school.
“My mother handed over the business to me because she is aging. I had been following her to the market to learn the trade since childhood so when I saw that age had taken its toll on her I advised her to stop coming to market because it was becoming too stressful for her.
“Since I took over from my mother, there have been lots of improvements, I have expanded the business”.
The dominance of men in the industry notwithstanding, Patience says she is not perturbed as the butchery business is not gender specific.
It is Patience’s dream to add innovation to her business. “I would like to start meat processing and packaging, but I am constrained by funds,” she said.
Her colleague, Ini-Obong Ben, 29, from Akwa Ibom lamented that the poor economy and high cost of livestock are affecting their patronage.
She said being in a line of business dominated by men has made her understand the fact that men are very accommodating and do not show any form of hatred unlike in other businesses
“Our sales have dropped compared to some months back when they used to boom. The truth is: the economy is bad and the cost of livestock in the ranches has gone up. From cows to goats, prices have doubled, and people are barely surviving.
“We hope that things will get better, and business will come back to normal,” she said.
Ene-Obong Monday, 32, said she ventured into the business because “I had no other thing to do, so I had to approach someone to mentor me.
“I have been in this business for the past ten years. The business is lucrative”
Women’s Unemployment in Nigeria
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the labor force population covers all persons aged 15 to 64 years who are willing and able to work regardless of whether or not they have a job.
The employed population was fixed at 46m; 20m for women and 26m for men. Individuals in informal employment were set at 43m, with 18m being women and 25m, men.
Those in formal employment out of the active population of 122m is a meager 3m; with less than 1m for women and about 2.3m for men.
This leaves the number of unemployed Nigerians at 23m; 12m for women and 11m for men.
Statista, an online data company, noted that as of 2021, the total unemployed population in Nigeria was estimated at a peak of around 6.3m. This increased from the preceding years when around 6m people were not in any form of employment.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria was estimated to reach 33 percent in 2022, according to Statista.
This figure was projected to be at 32.5 percent in the preceding year.
Chronological data show that the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose constantly in the past years. In the fourth quarter of 2020, over 33 percent of the labor force was unemployed, according to data.
self-employment: solution to Nigeria’s unemployment
Despite being an oil-producing country, the high unemployment rate in Nigeria has birthed several Small and Medium Scale businesses both in production, retail and agriculture, etc.
These SMEs have in no small measure contributed to the country’s economic growth.