Women's Work and Taxation in the Informal Economy: Issues in Urban Governance in Nigeria

This report examines women's work and taxation in the informal economy based on focus group discussions and key informant interviews conducted in four Nigerian states; Kano, Niger, Imo and Oyo. The objectives of the research were to: Analyse the ways women in the informal sector can be mainstreamed for tax compliance. Establish the features of women's tax compliance and participation in politics. Examine the way women politicians can make a difference in using tax revenues for provision of social services. Aggregate the intersection of tax, politics and governance to enhance women's development. The informal economy in Nigeria, as in most parts of Africa, is characterised by extremely precarious working conditions, low productivity, low wages and low earnings while the nature and environment of work is often makeshift, rudimentary with little or improvised technology application and scant attention for occupational health and safety. It is estimated that as many as nine in ten rural and urban workers have informal jobs, and this is especially the case for women and young people, who rely on the informal economy for their survival and livelihood. The expanded definition of informality, adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), to capture “all forms of work that takes place in small and unregistered enterprises” is applied in this research. Pozarny (2016) reported that women make up the majority of the informal sector. Women work in the Nigerian informal sector as market traders, street vendors, domestic helps or artisans. Zakaria argues that the inability of women to be mainstreamed in the formal sector, makes their work hidden in the informal sector and yet they contribute enormously to economic development. The work of women goes unnoticed, unrecorded and excluded which Frishman notes leads to their contributions being neglected by officials, planners and economists.