The Roles Of Women In Politics As Well As The Prospects And Constraints Of Their Participation In Politics
This study examined the role of women in politics and in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria alongside prospects and constraints. It elicited their challenges, experiences and contributions to the democratic process. Strategies that can assist women realize their political leadership potentials were proffered. Questionnaires were administered on 700 randomly selected female politicians, activists and professionals in government and dominant parties across Kaduna state. Also, interview schedules were conducted with 10 of the randomly selected respondents. Results revealed that women are marginalized and feature minimally in government because Nigeria lacks a legislative framework that secures quotas for women in political parties. Patriarchal attitudes, poor informal networks/mentoring, finance, religion and educational status were found to militate against women’s participation in politics and governance. To overcome these problems, the study recommended amongst others, the development of electoral reforms that promote equitable representation of women and respect for due process. Empowerment of women by ensuring their access to credit facilities was proffered. The study concluded that the institutionalization of varieties of special mechanisms is most needed in increasing women’s participation in governance
1.1 Background to the Study
In most societies, women have not been accorded the freedom to such things like attending the same schools as men, owned property or receive equal pay for equal work. Women are look upon as second class citizens, they are often not allowed to participate in decision making even in matters concerning them. Participation in politics is taken to mean the involvement of women in both decision making bodies like the Executive and Legislative institutions. This research is not intended to prove that women are superior to men nor is it intended to portray women as having a desire to take the place of men, far from it. Women are human beings in their own rights and as such have made substantial and meaningful contributions in the society. The United Nations in recognition of the rights of women declared 1975 – 1985 as decade for women which was devoted to the subject of equality in political participation and decision making which was adopted by the 40th session of the UN General Assembly Resolution 40/108 on December 13th, 1982.1 Before then, on 10th December, 1974, the United Nations called for an international action programme for a short and long term measures in achieving the integration of women as full partners and equal partners in an effort and step to eliminate gender base discrimination. To strengthen this, the 8th of March, 1992 was declared International Women’s Day and was observed by the United Nations for its First time. The 8th of March, every year is set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to member states to reflect on the contributions made by women in different fields of national development.
In joining other nations to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Kaduna state government affirms its support for the alleviation of numerous constraints on women. Concerted efforts were made by successive governments to enact laws towards the halting of all forms of bottle neck against women participation in politics. Right from the First Republic Kaduna State women have braced up against all odds and decided to take the bull by the horn, to square up with the men. Also in the Second Republic, the likes of Gambo Sawaba, Angelina Jaja, Mary Dogo etc. were women that participated actively in Kaduna State politics. Similarly, the Third and Fourth Republics saw a massive participation of Kaduna State women in politics which we shall come to see. Some prominent Kaduna State women were always on the vanguard for the observance of the International Women’s Day (8th of March every year) to add colour to this annual occasion: among who were Marina Mohammed: was a Nigerian former Ambassador to Zambia, Hon. Saudatu Sani, was chairman House Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development in the National Assembly, Hon Florence Aya was Chairperson Zonal Working group on Child’s Right and Mrs. Maria Dogo: Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs Kaduna State House of Assmebly.2
It has become necessary to give this elaborate preamble so that we understand how far women in Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular had gone towards taking their rightful places in politics. This research provides the roles of women in Kaduna State politics for better understanding, this work is divided into five interesting chapters viz: General Introduction, History of Kaduna State, Women and Kaduna State politics 1999 – 2015, some notable women in Kaduna State politics and lots of issues that shall be discussed as sub topics.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
In Kaduna State women constitute more than half of the total population and form a critical portion of enhancing democratization of political system in the state. However, available data indicates that they are inadequately represented in political positions. The possible explanation for this scenario could be that gender issues in electoral politics have not received due attention and redress. This gives their male counterpart an edge over them. Women are always rejected to the peripheries of political leadership, burden with guilt. Women are doubled marginalized: first because they are women and secondly, because they are politicians. Frequently, political information is withheld from women, for instance in the 2003 General Elections many women aspirants were locked out at the nomination stage. In their public and private lives, women have to struggle to articulate their desires and to make their voices be heard.
For a long time, women have been marginalized and seen as people who cannot politically stand their own, but have to be propped by men. Though a few researchers have in recent past began to document on women’s participation in politics, such documentation has not focused on factors that affects women’s participation in electoral politics. The purpose of this study is therefore to investigate into the roles of women in politics with emphasis on Kaduna State in a bid to come up with possible strategies that be used to enhance their participation.
1.3 Aim and Objectives
The aim of this research is to examine the roles of women in Kaduna State politics as well as the prospects and constraints of their participation in politics.
- To provide an illustrative picture of Kaduna State women in politics during the period of our study 1999 – May, 2015.
- To give an insight into the achievements and challenges women encountered in politics.
- To discuss the impacts of the participation of Kaduna State Women in politics.
- To present how the society view women’s participation in politics
1.4 Significance and Justifications of the Study
It has been observed that since before the creation of what came to be known as Nigeria today and with the attainment of independence; women were completely abandoned and lagged behind in the affairs of governance in all levels. Most gender studies tend to concentrate on men and their contributions thereby relegating women to the background. Women roles are subordinated which that of men is recognized. This research is significant because it will bring to light information obscured from public knowledge about women and politics in Kaduna State. It will also show how women played their roles effectively to support the state and the nation at large.
1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This is a research into the level of women participation in Kaduna State politics between the period 1999 – May, 2015. One of the reasons for dating this work 1999 – May, 2015, it coincided with the Fourth Republic which marked a turning point in women political participation. The period witnessed an increase in women’s participation in active politics. The limitations could be associated with time, resources (finance), the research was carried out at the same time attending my lectures. Also there are few materials (literatures) that were written on the topic under consideration. In addition, difficulties in conducting interviews as some informants were not ready or not willing to grant an interview.
1.6 Research Methodology
This study involves the use of primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are first hand information of the event under study, it could be a document that contains information obtained from experience or observation but not taken from other books, document or journals where the writers’ has taken from other sources. Other written sources that were consulted include: Biographies, Government and Administrative Records, Journals, Textbooks and Memos. In addition, oral interviews. All these sources were subjected to rigorous analysis, scrutiny and evaluation in order to establish their authority/authenticity and usefulness in the study.
1.7 Theoretical Framework
Feminism as a concept offers an appropriate framework for this study on women participation in politics in Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular. Feminist believes that women have equal political, social, intellectual and economic rights as men. It is a concept that started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe.3 Feminist aspiration have been expressed in societies dating back to ancient China, they under pinned by a developed political theory until the publication of Mary Wollostone Craft’s (the mother of Feminism) titled “A Vindication of the Rights of Women 1972’’.4 Indeed it was not until the emergence of the Women’s suffrage movement in the 1840s and 1850s that feminist ideas reached a wider audience, in form of so-called first wave feminism.5 The achievement of female suffrage in most western countries in the early twentieth century deprived the women’s movement of its central goal and organizing principle. Second wave feminism, however, emerged in 1960s. This expressed the more radical and sometimes revolutionary demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM).6 Feminist scholars maintain that the definition of what is relevant to the study of international relations as presented in textbooks and other scholarship written by men, is a product of the male point of view and ignores or misrepresents the role of women, their concern and their perspective.7 Feminist theories and doctrines are diverse, but their unifying feature is a common desire to enhance, through whatever means, the social role of women.8
In a nutshell, feminism is an ideology committed to promoting the social role of women and in most cases dedicated to the goal of gender equality. The underlying themes of feminism are therefore, first, that society is characterized by sexual or gender inequality and second, that this structure of male power can and should be identified.9 There are various feminists e.g,
liberal feminists, social feminists, and radical feminists.
1.8 Literature Review
This entails a review of works that are related to the topic and the subject matter of this research. It discusses the existing works related to the research pointing out their strengths and weaknesses: where such works have been of benefit to the research as well as where the research will be useful in filling the gaps of such works.
Joy N. Ezeilo in her book Women and Children’s right, she talked about women and children rights. She started the book by citing the UN Declaration of Women’s Right. She looked at women’s right in international arena and also discussed the problems of women right in Nigeria such as economic, political, legal, social and cultural factors. She concluded the book by encouraging individuals and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to continue their struggles for promotion and protection of women’s right.10 The relevance of the book to this research is, it informs individuals about rights of women and the right which women should be given. It however failed to mentioned that some women have risen above such barriers, struggled and made some progress in achieving their rights.
Kennedy Aniemeka Ogbuani’s book is another work that contributes immensely to the research. In the book, the writer discussed the term superiority and how some women despite all odds triumph. He started by discussing male domination in some spheres of life and the attitude of men towards women. He made mentioned of women who made positive impacts at the world level such as: Margret Tharcher who impacted positively to the economic greatness of Great Britain and other international figures like Indira Ghandi, Corazon Aquino of Philipnes, Benazir Bhuto of Pakistan and Magdaline Albright of USA.11
Consequently, the book by Hajara Mohammed Kabir contributed to this research. The book centered on problems confronting women in the Northern part of Nigeria. The Author appears to know the problems hindering the development of women in the North as only a true northerner would do. She sees some cultural practices working against the advancement or development of women. Particularly, the author feels the Purdah system has contributed in no small measure to the under-development of women in Northern Nigeria. She believes strongly that the Purdah is a hindrance to women’s advancement in politics. She argued that the incessant incidents of rapes, sexual harassment, hawking and unguided early marriages that are the borne of women under development are un-Islamic.12 However, the critic here is, the author focused her attention on women that only found themselves in politics because their husbands were at a point in time Presidents or Governors. To me these are not politicians. She would have made mentioned of women that contested and won elections at various levels.
In addition, the book by Jibrin Ibrahim and Amina Salihu focused on the discrimination against women and largely marginalized in many field especially in politics, in matters of good economic policies and governance. The need to align the energies, expectations and aspiration of women to national ideals are been neglected. To buttress their argument, they pinpoints the experiences of fifteen (15) women aspirants in 2003 General Elections whose story contains challenging but inspiring messages. The book also contains a comprehensive report of civil advocacy efforts at promoting the participation of women in politics.13
Furthermore, another work by Ahmadu Sesay and Adetanwa Odebiyi, looks at anew at the various sectors in which women play out their roles effectively. The book reveals the constraints to gender equity and the full participation in development as participants and beneficiaries inspite efforts in the national and international scenes to empower women. The writer also proffers some recommendations. Through this book, the discussion on women and development in Nigeria society has certainly become richer and at the same time, made new directions for ensuring gender equity and full involvement of women in development as participants and beneficiaries.14 However, the writer fails to understand that, an enabling ground has been created by women to venture into any productive ventures. But most of the women prefer white collar jobs, thereby refusing to engage in entrepreneurship: when it fails they start crying of discrimination.
Again, the book by Modupelu Fasake talked about how the Nigerian woman has influenced and been influenced by her society through time. The Nigeria women had come a long way and their struggles have been catalogue in the book. The book particularly x-rays the impacts of colonialism and military rule on the Nigeria woman against the backdrop of her pauperization. The author enumerates what she thoughts as possible solutions.15 However this work is filled with partisanship and prejudice and may incite women to revolt.
Also in the book by Abiola Odejide, the writer observed that the media are not the fundamental cause of the subordinate status of women. However, because of their impact, memorability and reach, they are powerful tool which often promote the existing images within the community by magnifying them and beaming them back. The purpose of this book is to make the Nigerian media re-defined their roles by helping to generate a climate of opinion conducive to the promotion of equality between sexes and the improvement of the economic and social status of women. She equally advise the women Journalist to equip themselves through training and practice to attain high level editorial positions where decisions are taken about quality, quantity and positioning of news about women. Also a special interest group have to be set up to monitor the pattern of media ownership and advertising practices in the country and provide education about women rights and issues.16 The book is gender biased because women nowadays have dominated the Nigerian media.
The contribution of women in politics is captured so also are the various obstacles that pose a problem to the participation in politics of Kaduna State women and Nigeria at large. The chapter also provides Statement of the Research Problem. The Research Methodology used both primary and secondary sources. The aim and objectives, the scope and limitations, as well as the significance of the study were also discussed.
Recommendations and Conclusion
This study has found that equitable political participation of women is a fundamental prerequisite for genuine and sustainable democracy and that a higher number of them in government generally contribute to stronger attention to women’s issues. Although women have been marginalized and under-represented, they have recorded some measure of political achievement and have contributed to the sustenance of the emerging democracy in Nigeria.
Since women’s participation in politics is crucial for good governance, this paper recommends the creation of an enabling environment to enhance women’s participation in politics. It also recommends an improvement in the constitutional law framework to incorporate the needs of women in politics. This is particularly important because the Federal character principle in the Nigerian Constitution is inadequate in addressing women’s concerns. The study further suggests the need to intensify campaigns to promote women’s representation in political platforms. In addition, women should be economically empowered through access to education, employment and credit facilities. The creation of gender awareness training for political party members and leadership training for prospective women leaders is also recommended. Gender sensitive and equitable policies in the agenda and operations of political parties should be promulgated and their implementation monitored.
The study concludes that although Nigeria is still a long way in reaching the recommended 30 percent representation of women in government, the future prospects of Nigerian women in politics is bright. A gender balanced political leadership is crucial to the sustenance of Nigerian democracy.
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