Explaining The Role Of Women In Political Development In Nigeria

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Explaining The Role Of Women In Political Development In Nigeria


The exclusion of women in politics has been identified in recent times as one of the major setbacks for economic development. Women’s groups are a strong pillar for grassroots politics; and a drive for more women participating in politics at the grassroots still faces a lot of challenges, making it difficult for them to harness available opportunities for economic development. Thus, the opportunity therein for more women’s participation in politics and women empowerment is yet to be exploited by the women’s groups in Nigeria. This present study assesses the role of women in political development in Nigeria. The study was carried out using primary data from forums and dialogues within women’s groups, consisting of an average of thirty (30) members from ten (10) local government areas (LGAs) in Osun state, Nigeria. In addition, explorative methods using existing literature were also employed. Findings from the study indicate that women’s groups do not have political agenda; mostly, their goals do not align with any political agenda, although their members accept appointments, and also enjoy government patronage. There was also an indication that there exists a high illiteracy rate among the members of the women’s groups and most of them are not aware of existing National or International gender equality laws or affirmative action. Thus, it is difficult to participate in politics and contribute their voices to political issues. The study concludes that the present role played by women’s groups at the grassroots level may not be adequate in encouraging more women’s participation in politics and in influencing economic development. Thus, there is need to step up their activities and embrace political issues if they are to help more women participate and be relevant in politics. The study therefore suggests that more empowerment programs, especially in the area of decision making and participation in politics, should be targeted at women’s groups at the grassroots levels by the governments and all stakeholders as a matter of priority.

Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Question
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Terms
  • 1.10 Organisation of the Study

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 The Women’s Movement in Nigeria, the Journey So Far
  • 2.3 Women; Political Participation and Development
  • 2.4 Factors Hindering Women’s Political Participation
  • 2.4.1 Educational Factor
  • 2.4.2 Cultural Factor
  • 2.4.3 Social Economic Factor
  • 2.4.4 Political Factors
  • 2.5 Theoretical Framework

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population
  • 3.3 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.4 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Results and Discussion

  • 4.1 Overview of Women Political Participation
  • 4.1.2 Women Educational Attainment in Colonial Era
  • 4.1.3 Women Educational Attainment in Post Colonial Era
  • 4.2 Discussion of Findings on the Role Of Women in Political Development in Nigeria
  • 4.2.1 Awareness of Existing National Gender Policy and Gender Equality Laws and Policies in Nigeria
  • 4.2.2 Perception on Women Political Participation and Their Role in Politics
  • 4.2.3 Political Parties Meetings Time
  • 4.2.4 Violence
  • 4.2.5 High Level of Illiteracy
  • 4.2.6 Existing Laws and Civil Servants Participation in Politics
  • 4.2.7 Other Constraints

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Politics is very important in every human society. According to Pennock et al (1967) “Politics refers to the forces that constitute and shape the government of the state and it’s politics and actions” According to (Goodnow, 1904: 1959). Politics involves the activities of the officials institutions of state. This can be ascertained that the stability, cohesion and level of socio-economic development that any society enjoys are reflective of its political leadership. It ensures that human, natural and economic resources are controlled by few people who are interested in the art of management, on behalf of the generality of the people. These are of course positions of responsibility that confer on the holders, certain rights, authorities and privileges of the politicians. In order to take care of all human interests, the two genders are supposed to be fully engaged in politics. However, the reverse is largely dominated by the male gender, often to the detriment of the female (Afolabi, 2008). The result is a “malevolent” militarization of politics in Nigeria.

Participation in politics refers to different ways in which people exercise their rights over the political process. It is seen as a means to an end, where the end may be referred to as political leadership Milbrath (1955) sees it as ranging from voting to taking part in decision process, attendance, at political meetings, funding and holding public and party offices participation according to him involves discussion, debates, and lobbying (both formally and informally).

The concept of participation lies in the culture of democracy. The first principle of democracy adopted by the council of the inter-parliamentary union Cairo, 16th September 1997, is stated as being “… a universally recognized idea as well as a goal, which is based on common values shared by people through out the world community irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences. It is thus a basic right of citizenship to be exercised under conditions of freedom, equality, transparency and responsibility, with due respect for the plurality of views, and the interest of the policy.”

This concept gives room to every human being to have rights to share in the making of decisions that affect their lives and that of their community. This right was affirmed by the establishment of the commission on the status of women (to promote women’s political and economic rights) by the United Nation in 1946. The year 1952 saw the adoption of the convention on political rights of women world; wide, and in 1967, the convention for the elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CE DAW) was endorsed. This convention is upheld by all international, regional and national legal instruments that concern children and women, such as the convention on the Right of child (CRC) and the organization of African unity (ONU, New African Union, AU). Charter on the Rights and welfare of the child. It also includes the National policy on women (NPW) adopted by the federal government of Nigeria. In July 2000. with the ratification of CEDAN in 1985, Nigeria undertook to work towards the elimination of discrimination against women and goals in all fields, whether political, economic, social or cultural. Since the adoption of this policy by the government, very little improvement in the exercise of women’s rights (especially in the area of politics) has been witnessed. The Beijing conference of 1995 on women articulated. Some areas crucial to the empowerment of women. These include poverty, education, healthcare, violence against women, effects of conflicts on women, power-sharing and decision-making mechanisms to promote the government of women, management of natural resources and the environment and the girl child. The Beijing platform for action made concrete plans to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures as one of its strategic objectives. It also affirms the needs to increase women capacity to participation leadership and decision-making processes and bodies. One of the key initiatives in this ongoing process was the security council resolution of 1325, which urged member states to ensure increased representation of all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institution and mechanism for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict (UN, 2000AD/1325).

Taking the census of political activities both in the country and in the world at large, the number of political practitioners is quite insignificant as it is infinitesimal compared with men. In African, with particular reference to Nigeria, no women have been elected as governor of a state either during the civilian or military rule. Much they have been commissioners in the state or ministers at the federal level not to take of presidency, though some critics may be quick to mention, the case of Dame V. Etieba of Anambra State, but the truth remains that she was not elected. However, when the seat became vacant due to the treacherous and kangaroo impeachment of the PDP led house of Assemble, being the second in command she had to boss the show for the in term which she did credibly well more than most of her male counterparts in other states. No other event can adequately represents the inhibitions and political road-blocks set for women than, in which even when Hon. Patricia Etteh managed to emerge as the first female speaker of the National House of representatives, these male chauvinists working round the clock saw to her exist.

It is therefore, on this background that this work “explaining the role of women in political development in Nigeria” is carried out.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Women empowerment is revolutionary development in the political history of Nigeria, Africa and the contemporary global society. Since Nigeria independence women in Nigeria have been given unfair representation in public affairs and with increased demonstration of their managerial capabilities in all spheres of human endovear, there is therefore, the need to give attention to the quest for wider participation of women in public affairs especially in leadership responsibilities.

Women usually constitute a smaller of political partly membership because of the social, cultural and religious attitudes of different Nigerian societies which most often lend to relegate women to the background. As a result, only very few men, even among the educated, allow their wives to come out and participate in politics. In Northern Nigeria, for instance, an important factor inhabiting women’s participation is the purdah system (i.e. house seclusion of women).The essence of this research work is to investigate the role of women in political development in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to investigate the role of women in political development in Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives of the study include to;

  1. To examine the relationship between politics and women’s participation in politics in Nigeria
  2. To determine how culture hinders women’s participation in politics in Nigeria
  3. To determine the role of women and women groups in women political development in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Question

The following research questions are formulated to guide this research:

  1. What is the relationship between politics and women’s participation in politics in Nigeria?
  2. How does culture hinders women’s participation in politics in Nigeria?
  3. What is the role of women and women groups in women political development in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • HO1 Women do not play a significant role in political development in Nigeria
  • HA1 Women play a significant role in political development in Nigeria

1.6 Significance of the Study

Every research endeavor is prompted by a societal need to address a pressing problem. This study therefore is no exception, it has both academic and political importance.

The study will fill the existing gap in knowledge, it will also serve as an academic contribution to the movement for the recognition and realization of gender quality in the Nigeria matrix, particularly since Nigeria is a nation constitutionally based on the principle of democracy and justice.

The practical significance of this study include among other things that its findings and recommendations will be useful to policy makers, non-governmental organization, women organization and other stakeholders in the quest for gender equality.

It will equally be of importance to students, scholars and researchers in the field of political science and public administration that are saddled with the task of organizing and managing the public issues and affairs of the larger Nigerian society. Lastly, the study will contribute to empirical literature on the subject matter as well as contribute to future studies and serve as a reference for other researchers.

1.7 Scope of Study

This study was carried out to investigate the role of women in political development in Nigeria. The study focused on women groups in 10 local government areas in Osun state.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Access to information relevant to the study was the major difficulty the researcher encountered during the data collection. Certain stakeholders were reluctant to grant the researcher interview and others who did were not forthcoming with the information. However there were others who were more than willing and provided adequate information that was needed for the work.

Another limitation has to do with time. The researcher did not have enough time to undertake the research since she had to meet a deadline. This notwithstanding the researcher was able to make proper use of the limited time therefore the quality of the work was not affected. However, it facilitated a detailed and in depth understanding of the study.

1.9 Definition of Terms


Refers to an adult female human being. Also, a female person associated with a particular place, activity, or occupation.


Politics is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that studies politics and government is referred to as political science.

Political Development:

Broadly, refers to the development of the institutions, attitudes, and values that form the political power system of a society. Political development enhances the state’s capacity to mobilize and allocate resources, to process policy inputs into implementable outputs.

1.10 Organisation of the Study

This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The aim of this thesis was to investigate the role of women in political development in Nigeria. Using Osun state as a case study, primary data was collected from forum and dialogues with 6 women’s groups consisting of an average of 30 members from 10 LGAs. Findings indicate that the goals and objectives of the women’s groups in the selected LGAs in Osun state are not politically inclined and the majority of their members only serve as voters during elections due to a number of constraints which include the women’s lack of political right and awareness, late night political parties’ meetings, violence, illiteracy, unfavorable laws on the participation of civil servants in politics, and so on. The knowledge within the women’s groups on existing gender equality laws, both at the national and international levels, are limited.

5.2 Conclusion

The study concludes that the present role played by women’s groups at the grassroots level in Nigeria may not be adequate in encouraging more women’s participation in politics, achieving its gender equality goals, and influencing political development. It therefore becomes imperative to step up the activities of the women’s groups to embrace political agenda and incorporate the same into their groups’ goals and objectives if more women are to participate and be relevant in politics in elected positions in view of the forthcoming elections. The study therefore suggests that more empowerment programs for women’s groups, especially at the grassroots levels, by governments and all stakeholders should be a matter of priority and urgency in creating awareness among women’s groups on the importance of participating in politics at the decision making level.

5.3 Recommendation

From the findings and conclusions, the following recommendations are made;

  1. Some obnoxious cultural and religious practices that constitute a hindrance to women participation in politics should be abolished in order to accord women equal right and opportunity as enjoyed by the men.
  2. Efforts should be made to educate the female child and illiterate women with good education attained, women will have the necessary skill needed to pursue any political career, have feeling of self-worth and confidence required for public life.
  3. The electoral law or act should be amended to provide a clause that places limit on the amount of money that both political parties and candidates standing for elective post should posses or involve in the political campaign.
  4. Moreover, there should be a clause inserted both in the constitution and the electoral act, which will provide a number of seats that will be reserved for women in all elective positions across the length and breadth of the country.
  5. Furthermore, all discriminatory laws and traditions in Udi that militate women’s chances of equal participation with men in politics should be annulled. For instance inheritance law that prevents women from owning children should be nullified.

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