Full Length Research Paper
In Nigeria several occupations and practices are gender biased right from their names and references. The womenfolk are not heard of but it was discovered that in almost all local markets in Nigeria, women engage in the sales of herbal products for the treatment of numerous ailments however, there are no available data of their contributions to herbal medicine. It is on this note that this study was carried out to examine the gender dimension of herbal medicine’s knowledge and practice in Ekiti and Ondo States. A multi- stage random sampling method was used in selecting 140 respondents from the two States. A structured interview schedule was used in collecting the data. Results of the findings indicate that majority (81.4%) of herbal medicine practitioners in Ekiti and Ondo States were women. Data show a high level of patronage and effectiveness. Most of them inherited the practice from their parents but a few males learned it through informal training. Both genders engaged in the treatment of various ailments and were frequently patronized by patients with infertility problems, children’s ailments, skin diseases and malaria. They mostly used indigenous methods in processing and preservation of herbs however a good proportion (23%) of the male gender has engaged in the modern method of processing and preservation of herbs. Challenges faced by herbal medicine practitioner in both States includes lack of processing facilities, low publicity, ignorance, low level of education and poor finance base. All the challenges were prominent among the female gender than their male counterparts. It is recommended that Agricultural extension agents should evolve a model for improving women’s herbal medicine practice through non-formal education while the male counterparts who are more knowledgeable in the practice can be used as resource persons. Both the male and female herbal practitioners should be encouraged to form and join cooperative societies to enable them access loans. Young people should be encouraged to join the profession in order to prevent it from going into extinction.
Key words: Gender, herbal medicine, knowledge, practice.
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