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.

1.1 Background information
Rural households diversify income sources by combining two or more jobs (multiple job holding) to enhance consumption, smoothen and acquire other basic needs (Oluwatayo, 2009). Rural women need to diversify their occupation since farming is rain-fed and therefore, seasonal. This is to enable them acquire additional income and meet up with economic responsibilities during off-season periods.

Rural areas where these women reside are dominated by the following characteristics: geographical isolation, low quality physical infrastructure, low human capital, underdeveloped markets, scarcity of resources or incidence of some natural disaster (Ranjan, 2006). Occupational diversification becomes pertinent in order for rural women to cope with the aforementioned characteristics. Occupational diversification according to Lanjouw and Lanjouw (2001) involves incorporating all economic activities in rural areas, except crop and livestock production, fishing and hunting. Tacoli (2004) defines occupational diversification as non-farm income generating activities undertaken by rural residents and farming by urban residents. Saith (2002) also defines occupational diversification in rural areas as the reallocation and recombination of all economic activities which display sufficiently strong rural linkages, irrespective of whether they are located in designated rural areas or not. According to Mukhopadhyay and Lim (2005), occupational diversification comprises two types, namely: those ventures that are administered on an approximately steady basis with an objective of generating surplus and registering growth, hiring labour and with a certain degree of technical sophistication; and products or activities which are usually seasonal, managed exclusively with the help of unpaid family labour, relying on primal technology and catering mostly to the local market characterized primarily by petty production. From these definitions by different authors, occupational diversification in this context is defined as all economic activities, which involve farm and non-farm activities in rural areas.

The individualisation of economic activity and the increasing tendency to engage in non- agricultural income earning have had a dissolving effect on long-standing agrarian divisions of labour as well as economic rights and responsibilities within peasant households. Pooling of income within the domestic unit is weakening as categories of people who formerly were not expected to earn income now simultaneously receive less from male heads of household, and assert a right to determine how their own income is spent (Bryceson, 2006). Conversely households are often pursuing several different non-agricultural activities simultaneously or at different points throughout the year. Most of the activities are highly opportunistic in nature, involving quick responses to market demand and supply. However, changing labour force participation patterns are also readily apparent. More and more rural women are entering non-agricultural production and the male household head’s dominant role as family cash-earner is eroding. Rural women are also earning cash, but largely based on their home-making skills and generally less remunerative compared with men. Sales of prepared snacks, beer, hair plaiting, petty retailing, knitting, tailoring, soap making, midwifery are a few of the many services that they now engage in (Ellis, 1998).

Rural women are more likely to be self-employed than their urban counterparts. Fourteen percent of women in rural and small town areas of sub-Saharan Africa were engaged in non-farm self-employment as compared to 11% of women in urban areas in 2001 (Leech, 2008). However, there has been a parallel increase in rural women’s income over the years. In the fifties, it was estimated that women averaged a contribution of about 20% to family earnings. In the nineties, their income was estimated to account for at least 40% of total family income (International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 1995). Usually, women’s income tends to rise after about age 30. Before then their child-care and other domestic......

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