The Marginalization Of Women In Politics And Its Effects On The Development Of Women

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Marginalization Of Women In Politics And Its Effects On The Development Of Women


This study is carried out on the marginalization of women in politics and its effect on the development of women. The study was carried out in Igabi Local Government Area, Kaduna State. Marginalization of women in economic development and in social and political spaces is a worldwide phenomenon; however, it is worse in developing countries. In Nigeria, despite the adoption of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1985 and similar local policies, such as the National Gender Policy of 2006, inequality still exists due to a myriad of cultural and structural challenges. This has constrained women’s participation in all spheres of life with serious implications for human resource development and, in that capacity, economic development of the country and the general state of gender equality. This article reviews the situation in Nigeria and argues that local adaptation of international norms as well as a focus on domestic reforms in laws and culture might be a reasonable approach towards women’s development.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of study
  • 1.2 Statement of problem
  • 1.3 Research question
  • 1.4 Objectives of study
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.6 Scope and limitation of study
  • 1.7 Definition of key terms

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 The Concept of Politics
  • 2.2 Gender inequality in Nigeria
  • 2.3 Socio-economic inequalities
  • 2.3.1 Land ownership
  • 2.3.2 Poverty
  • 2.4 National laws: government policies and conventions
  • 2.5 Traditional laws and practices
  • 2.5.1 Patriarchal culture
  • 2.5.2 Ethnic sub-cultures
  • 2.5.3 Religious laws and beliefs
  • 2.5.4 Politics
  • 2.5.6 Media
  • 2.6 Women and Political Participation
  • 2.7 Legal Framework for Women’s Political Participation.

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Method
  • 3.2 Method of data collection
  • 3.3 Data analysis
  • 3.4 Area of study

Chapter Four


Chapter Five:

Conclusion, Recommendation and Implication

  • 5.1 Conclusion
  • 5.2 Recommendations and the way forward
  • 5.3 Implications
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background of Study

In all human societies exists marginalization whereby individuals or groups considered undesirable are excluded or removed from the prevalent systems of protection and integration, thereby limiting their opportunities and means for survival (Anupkumar 2008). The question of who is being marginalized often comes to mind as people lay claims to ethnic ties, gender, religion, race, educational status and social class as reasons for marginalization. In reality, marginalization is of the under-privileged, the non elites whose slum dwellings are routinely demolished, who are evicted from urban centers, whose livelihood sources are criminalized, whose unemployment has reached pandemic proportions and whose living conditions have been permanently made hellish and unbearable (Gaskia 2013).

All over the globe, marginalization exist in different forms. Examples, in part of india and south Asia, there is a strong preference for having sons, girls are perceived as financial burden for the family due to small income contributions and costly dowry demands (Brett 1989), in mexico, the high murder and disappearance rate of young women has received international attention for the last ten years (Zeleza 2003). Among the various types of marginalization that exist around the world, political marginalization is the worst form (Young 2000).

The essence of political participation in any society either civilized or primitive is to seek control of power, acquisition of power, dispensing power to organize society, harness and distribute resources and to influence decision making in line with organized or individual interest (Arowolo and Abe 2008). Arguments are on the increase on the specific role women should play in the society and the role they are currently playing. Opinions are divided on the whether the roles of women are predominantly in the home fronts or women can also engage in other socio-economic and political activities like their male counterparts. It is however believed that the natural relationship between mother and child may compel and confine her to sedentary activities, it is also important that such a mother contributes her quota to the development of that of her family and her society at large (Folorunso 2010). Political participation as one of the tenets of democracy is found to be liberal and unrestrictive, subscribing to this, Okolie 2004 perceives political participation as freedom of expression, association, right to free flow of communication, right to influence decision making process, the right to social justice, health services, better working conditions and opportunity for franchise’’.

In Nigeria, despite the significant roles of women before and after independence, the development of women economically, socially and politically is still wanting. Politics though remains an integral part of democracy bearing the traditional definition which characterizes it as excluding women, it needs to be stressed that women’s political right remain an integral part of human rights therefore it is generally a necessary aspect of any democratic framework (Abiola 2004). Women’s aspiration to participate in governance in Nigeria is premised on the following ground that;

women in Nigeria represent almost half of the population s(census 2006), hence should be allowed a fair share in decision making and governance

Secondly, that all human beings are equal and women posses the same r ights as men to participate in governance and public affairs (Nda 2003).

The right to democratic governance is an entitlement conferred upon all citizens by law. In southern Nigeria , women traditionally had economically important positions in interregional trade and markets. They worked on farms as major sources and had influential positions in traditional systems of local organizations (Obasi 2002). However, not on till 1979 that women in northern Nigeria were given the opportunity to vote and be voted for following the return to civilian rule. Northern Nigeria has the lowest percentage of women in politics (UNICEF 2000). It is from this back drop that this research will focus on marginalization of women in politics and its effects on the development of women in Igabi local government area of Kaduna state

1.2 Statement of Problem

Marginalization of women politically is prevalent in most societies. Over the years, there has been raging debates over the participation of women in politics. It must be noted that we live in a man’s world as a result men have domesticated all spheres of the society and women have been relegated to the background (UNICEF 2005). Their place is in the kitchen and they should not participate in anything except when given the permission by men (peters 1988). This has placed women at the bottom of the ladder politically, socially and economically as observed by UNICEF 2011.Women’s participation in Nigerian politics has been only in the shadowy fringes. Yet when it is time for election, women are mobilized to vote. Women are considered only good for dancing, after which they are given insignificant gifts like bags of rice, salt, magi cubes (Luka 2011).

Right from the point of being a child, gender inequality has condemned millions of children particularly the girl child to a life without quality education which results into a life of missed opportunities (Olatunji 2010). The situation is relatively common in the Northern part of the country where there is a problem of girl child drop out from school which has been attributed to many reasons like poverty, teenage pregnancy, early marriage and cultural as well religious biases as observed by UNICEF 2007. The low level of girl child education in the country is a contributing factor to the low level of women participation in politics. Politics needs solid educational back ground which enhances interaction. Education is generally considered as a core right as it is a fundamental gateway to other rights. In most communities in Nigeria today, many female children of school age are not enrolled into schools and in cases where they are enrolled, they do not attend school regularly because their labour may be needed at home to perform certain task, like hawking, taking care of their younger ones or helping their parents in the farm in other to augment for the family up keep (Aisha 2012).

More so, a number of barriers are imposed on women’s active participation in politics by cultural practices. Nigerian society is permeated by patriarchy where by women are expected to conform to and confine themselves to male dominance and female subservience (Nda 2003). Women are seen to be incapable of making sound decisions and it is unbecoming of women to expose themselves in public for political activities such as campaign rallies (Lloh and Ikenna 2009). The customary practices of many contemporary societies are biased by subjugating women to men and undermining their self-esteem (Ikonne 2005). The overall impact of gender bias, cultural norms and practices has entrenched a feeling of inferiority in women and place them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their male counterpart in the socio-political scene even in urban centers. These socially constructed norms and stereotype roles make women overplay their ‘feminity’ by accepting that they are ‘weaker sexes’, overemphasizing the dainty nature of their sex and regarding exceptional achievement as masculine (Genyi 2010).

The high cost of financing campaign is a big obstacle to women. The minimum cost of gubernatorial election could go as high as 200million Naira. How many women can mobilize such huge amount of money and how many men can mobilize such amounts for their women? Which political party will nominate a woman for a high post considering her very small contribution to party finance and formation (Nda 2003).

Furthermore, the nature of political party formation also affects women’s participation in politics. It is usually in form of a club and informal meetings initiated by male friends and business partners. Other members of the society of the society including women are contacted at a later stage when party structures have been put in place. So women are naturally excluded from the formation stage of political parties thus denying them of the benefits accruing to foundation membership (folorunso 2010).

More so, religion in Nigeria is an instrument of women oppression (Ikonne 2005) they have dictated women and men relationship for centuries and have entrenched male dominance into the structure of social organizations and institutions at all levels of leadership (Abe 2004). It justifies women marginalization in education, labour market, politics, family and domestic matters (Nda 2003). Most religions tenaciously hold the belief that women must not occupy leadership positions in the society but can only play second fiddle. It is on the basis of this that this study on the marginalization of women in politics and its effects on the development of women was carried out.

1.3 Research Question

  1. What are the factors militating against women’s participation in politics in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
  2. What is the effect of political marginalization of women as it affects development in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
  3. To what extent can women participation in politics enhances development and growth in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State?
  4. To what extent can the menace of women marginalization in political participation be remedied in Igabi local Government Area of Kaduna state?

1.4 Objectives of Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the marginalization of women in politics and its effects on the development of women in Igabi Local Government of Kaduna state. In other to achieve the broad objectives, the specific research objectives are as follows;

  1. To identify factors militating against women’s participation in politics Igabi Local Government of Kaduna state.
  2. To determine the effects of political marginalization on development of women and the society in Igabi Local Government of Kaduna state
  3. To examine the extent to which women participation can enhance political growth in Igabi Local Government of Kaduna state .
  4. To identify the extent to which women marginalization in political participation can be remedied in Igabi Local Government of Kaduna state

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study investigates marginalization of women in politics and its effects in the development of women in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State which enabled the researcher to provide an in-depth understanding of the problem of marginalization of women in politics in Nigeria. This study is significant because it took place in a period of continuous discussions on women development, the emancipation of women in politics, the need for equal rights among men and women. In similar direction, the society is better informed about the factors that are hindering women’s participation in politics so that necessary steps can be taken to reduce them. Furthermore, this study contributes to existing literature on the effect of lack of women’s participation in politics on the development of women and the society at large and it will equally help us in appreciating the place of women in national development.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of Study

This research covers marginalization of women in politics and its effect on the development of women with focus on Igabi local government area of Kaduna state. This was due to financial constrains as it requires huge resources to cover the whole of Kaduna state.

1.7 Definition of Key Terms

What is marginalization?

Marginalization refers to processes in which individuals and entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities and resources. It is a process by which an individual or group is denied access to important positions and symbols of economic, religious or political power within any society.

What is Politics?

Politics from Greek politikos (of , for, or relating to citizens) is the art or science of influencing people’s belief on a civic, or individual level, when there are more than two people involved. It examines the acquisition and application of power. Political scientist Harold Lasswell defines politics as ‘who gets what, when and how’.

What is development?

This refers to a specified state of growth or advancement. Accordingly, it is a significant event, occurrence or change as well as social movements.

Chapter Five

Conclusion, Recommendation and Implication

5.1 Conclusion

Gender inequality and poverty pervade every society but are particularly challenging in developing countries where ‘economic, political, cultural and religious problems’ afflict the society impeding women development and resulting in underdevelopment of affected nations. The situation in Nigeria is peculiar because while the country is rich in resources, its people are poor. Moreover, despite signing the CEDAW and the enactment of anti-discriminatory laws, gender inequality persists due to the patriarchal culture and religious norms that have a strong influence on the society (in particularly on women marginalization). The vague framework of the National law fails to recognize or refer to any existing legislation that seeks to protect women and promote gender equality. For sustainable development of women and the nation, gender equality is paramount. Therefore, there is an urgent need to give equal access to participation and decision-making in social, political, and economic life of the nation. The present government intervention via policies has proved ineffective in this regard. There is a need for the government to review legislation and amend discriminatory laws and regulations on some of the customary laws that impede gender equality. Advocacy and sensitization to create awareness about gender inequality is the way forward towards the attainment of women’s empowerment and development.

5.2 Recommendations and the way Forward

As a step forward, there is a need to empirically document and create greater awareness of women’s contribution to national development, in both the informal and formal sectors of economy. Ogunlela and Mukhtar (2009) note that rural Nigerian women take the lead in agricultural development of the country making about 60–80% of the labour force, yet their contribution is hardly noticed and therefore are rarely involved in decision-making in agricultural issues or rural development. It is noteworthy that women do most of the domestic and care work which is not computed in the GDP (Makama 2013). However, as Ogunlela and Mukhtar (2009) note, women in agriculture and civil society have been defending and echoing the cause of women farmers. Thus, in national and regional media as well as academic curricula, case studies, role models, and statistics of women’s productive contribution to national development may be highlighted.

Moreover, enlightened and egalitarian interpretations and practices of religion and culture, such as highlighting and showcasing female entrepreneurs, businesspersons, and leaders in early Islamic and Christian traditions and African customs, may be needed to eliminate patriarchy and inequality as a way forward towards women empowerment and development (see, for example, Syed and Van Buren 2014). This may be achieved by engaging and promoting egalitarian community leaders and conducting community meetings and events to promote gender equality. Concurrently, the government should safeguard the interests of women by enabling and implementing their participation and presentation in national and regional parliaments (by reserving quotas for women in party tickets and elected parliaments) to develop an inclusive culture at the decision-making level. This would include participation in politics, access to employment, and access to land, agriculture machinery, and credit. Women’s contribution in the informal sector should be acknowledged in the national statistics for gender and national development.

While cultural and religious norms are indeed a major cause of gender discrimination, there is an urgent need for legal reforms. The government should introduce and implement positive actions in education, grant women employment and political representation, create robust mechanism with a specific focus on inclusion and empowerment of women. As Gberevive et al. (2014) pointed out, discrimination against women in Nigeria affects their performance and unless gender discrimination in employment and leadership is not abolished, development will remain an evasive objective. Although the Nigerian government has adopted various international and national anti-discriminatory laws, they have not been implemented. The country has failed to implement gender equality policies in employment as women are still marginalized in private and public sector where most of the female employees are appointed at lower or junior positions (Olufemi and David 2011).

Action research on marginalization and its effects is encouraged to enable meaningful dialogues to create gender inclusive workplaces and social settings. This is in line with Collins et al.’s (2015, 14) suggestion for advocacy as an additional strategy to the four crucial human resource development professional practices: ‘relating, learning, changing and organising’ which were proposed by Bierema and Callahan (2014, 429) as a new way of thinking towards human resource development (HRD). Collins et al. define advocacy as ‘learning, changing and organising on behalf of others’, in this case, the marginalized women. This is a shift away from theory to action-related HRD proposition, a critical theory approach to closing the gap between research and practice, a way of ‘challenging “truth” that is advanced by dominant groups’ (Merriam and Bierema 2013, 214).

Since the equality laws and policies have been less than effective in addressing gender marginalization in Nigeria, affirmative action may be considered by policy-making bodies to create awareness about the significance of gender equality in women development that would lead to national development. Positive action in the form of reservation may also be introduced to ensure that women’s full potential is utilized within education, employment, politics, and economy. At the same time, there is a need to display and promote Nigerian female role models, such as Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General to the United Nations, and Omobola Johnson, technocrat and the Minister of Communication Technology. As Bayeh (2016) opines, sustainable development demands a balanced focus on the three pillars (components) of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social factors.

The tensions between international laws of equality and cultural challenges in Nigeria may also be seen in the context of debates on foreign norms and local traditions. Our review shows that the external norm of gender equality ought to lend itself to some adjustments to take into account local cultural sensitivities and preferences. Hence, the relative scope for pruning presented by a foreign norm contributes to the norm-taker’s interest to localize and is critical to its success (Acharya 2004). HarrellBond and Baines highlight another related explanation for the difficulties faced in gender policies and programmes; goals of cultural sensitivity may impede gender equality policies. Harrell-Bond (1999) suggests that some of the ‘traditional’ approaches may reinforce the masculine power. Baines also points to the way in which resistance to gender equality policies sometimes stems from the ideal of universalism that is used to deny the validity of treating women as a separate category (Baines 2004). In parallel with this claim to universalism, however, exists a discourse that locates the roots of gender inequality within the realm of the cultural values and norms of the host society. Gender equality is regarded as a cultural imposition, perceived to be a ‘Westernfeminist imposition’ (Baines 2004, 63). Sometimes, this paradoxical parallel belief both in the value of universalism and in the need to respect other cultures is repeated in other spheres of life which at the same time often refuses to treat women as a specific category because the theoretically gender-neutral laws and policies should apply to all equally, and at the same time attributes much of the persecution suffered by women to cultural differences (Freedman 2010). In Nigeria, there are clear challenges in terms of adopting international laws and policies of gender equity due to cultural and structural constraints. With due consideration of cultural sensitivity and reforms, better internalization of foreign norms may be expected.

5.3 Implications

Further study is needed to empirically explore and contextually investigate the role of culture, ethnicity, and religion in women’s marginalization in the economic and employment spheres across various regions and ethnic groups in Nigeria (and other countries). At the government and business policy levels, interventions may focus on gender inequality rooted in cultural and ethnic practices, to enable women’s participation in employment and other spheres of life. Thus, an emphasis on local adaptation and customization of international gender norms may offer a realistic pathway towards gender equality and women development. Syed and Metcalfe (2017) suggest that gender and development scholarship should reimagine colonial boundaries and encourage critical inquiry that reflects the contextual and social complexities of space and place. Awareness and sensitization efforts in Nigeria may be geared towards advancing the cause of gender equality through, for example, better access to employment and finance (including credit facilities and inheritance) and training of rural women embarked on agricultural and cottage businesses. In addition, women’s education especially in agriculture and informal sectors, sensitization of men and women through culturally sensitive seminars and workshops, and the introduction of cooperative groups and women networks may be encouraged. These and other similar steps may be taken by government and non-government organizations to boost women’s employment and economic development to help them move from marginalization and poverty to equality and empowerment.

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