Women In Politics And Decision Making In Nigeria: Challenges And Prospects
This paper examines “Women in Politics and Decision Making in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”. The purpose of this study is to identify the various strides and contributions of women in socio-economic and political development in Nigeria. The study was carried out in Anambra Central Senatorial District using random sampling technique from which 300 randomly selected career women and politicians were drawn from a population of 600. The questionnaire and interviews used by the researcher in gathering data and the related literatures were tested and confirmed empirically valid and reliable. The findings revealed that the Nigerian women can effectively contribute to nation building, irrespective of their gender. The challenges affecting effective women participation in politics and decision making towards nation building are Funding, cultural and religious discrimination, women’s perception of politics, political violence, lack of self-confidence, womens marginalization in political party leadership and illiteracy or low level of education.
1.1 Background of the Study
Since independence, women participation in politics and decision making in Nigeria have been a controversial issue. The 1st republic had only four female legislators in the whole of the country, a negligible number that cannot give women the necessary influence in politics. In that era, the contribution of women in nation building could only be imagined and not felt. The imposition of military rule, an era that followed this period from 1966 did not foster women participation in politics and very little was heard of women in politics and decision making (Samuel and Segun, 2012:7). The participation of women in nation building increased in the 2nd and most particularly in republic. Few women emerged as councilor, one woman, Chief (Mrs.) TitilayoAjanaku, as Chairperson of Abeokuta Local Government Council in Ogun State, two female Deputy Governors, AlhajaSinatuOjikutu and Mrs. Cecilia Ekpenyong in Lagos and Cross River State, respectively. Furthermore, only one woman was elected to the Senate and very few others to the House of Representatives. It is worthy of note that before 1999, the proportion of seats occupied by women in national parliament never exceeded 3.1% and 5% for federal Executive council (Luka, 2012). But these women proved they deserve more opportunities with their stellar performances.
The year 1999 marked the beginning of a new dawn as Nigeria returned to civilian government after the demise of military rule. Women political participation witnessed sharp improvement over previous experience. President Obasanjo who assumed power on May 29th 1999 made a clear departure from the past and appointed 4 out of the 29 senior ministers representing 13.7% and 3 out of the 18 junior ministers representing 16.6%. Furthermore, he appointed 2 women advisors and 2 senior special assistants and 6 special assistants and 1 special assistant to the vice president as well as 8 permanent secretaries (Luka, 2012:29). Women were also appointed as commissioners and were members of the executive councils in all the states (Kalawole et al, 2012:135). It should be noted that while the number of women in political position drastically increased between 1999 and 2011, the positions were mostly appointive rather than elective. From 1999 to 2011, no woman was elected into the office of the president or governor in any of the 36 states. However, In 1999, out of the total seat of 469 (Senate and House of Representatives), there were only 15 women representing 3.19%; this increased to 25 in 2003 representing 5.33%; there was a further increase in 2007 to 34 representing 7.24% and a slight decline in 2011 to 33 representing 7.03%. Although between 2003 and 2007, 4 to 6 women were elected as deputy governors. In spite of these improvements, the representation of women in politics and decision making in Nigeria is still a far cry from the global benchmark of 35% affirmative action. It is against this background that this paper examines “women in Politics and Decision Making in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”.
In Nigeria and the rest of the world, women have over time proven to be valuable assets and contributors to nation building.
In Nigeria, women have shown bright potentials in politics and public leadership, both in democratically elected positions and political appointments. These potentials are also present in their various philanthropic efforts and even in different organizations.
A lot of calls have been made from various quarters for Nigerian women to be given more opportunity to contribute their rather unique inputs to nation building as the few whom have received such rare opportunity have excelled beyond expectations.
In Nigeria, today, almost half of the women work outside the home -both in formal and informal sectors- for pay to augment the family resources. While some women, particularly the rural women, work in the farms/agricultural production, many others in the cities work in the public and private sectors, including government, commercial/trading, industrial, financial and service sectors of the economy, thereby contributing substantially to national development (Falusi, 2011).
Unequivocally, a woman is not, in any way, inferior to a man. Their roles, both in the family and nation-building, are complementary and co-terminus and the one should not be seen as inferior or subservient to the other. This argument could be faulted in the agrarian age when male dominance was largely dependent on their physical abilities that allow them to till the ground and lift heavy objects and equipments, a feat that eludes feminity, but not in this knowledge driven generation where intelligence and initiative reigns supreme.
With increased focus and sensitization on women empowerment, women (especially, Nigerians) have played key roles in building the Nigerian state. Since the inclusion of more women in key sectors of the Nigerian economy, such as the appointment of Late Prof. Dora Akunyili as D.G. of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) who saved millions of lives and ended the era of impunity in the manufacture, sales and distribution of food and drug products in Nigeria and also went further to set a pace in the information ministry as the minister of information and national orientation, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala (Co-ordinate Minister of the economy) whose appointment as the minister of finance/coordinating minister of the Nigerian economy have saved Nigeria a lot of trouble especially during the world economic recession; and her contributions to exalting the nation to the position of the best economy in Africa; a feat the nation has not achieved in the last three decades, Diezani Allison Madueke (Minister of petroleum resources); she initiated the fight against the cabal that are running the downstream sector to abyss, a battle which seems to elude her but her bravery has informed the Nigerian people of the activities of these cabals and has set the pace for the fight against corruption in the oil sector., Princess Stella Odua (Former Aviation Minister and presently senator representing Anambra North senatorial district), Hon. Mrs. UcheEkwunife (Senator; Anambra Central Senatorial District) and a host of other Nigerian women, they have managed to achieved giant strides in areas where their male counterparts have failed to farewell, and these qualitative contributions of women/woman nature in nation building is an area this research work will seek to explore.More opportunities should be allowed women by the Nigerian governments at all levels in order to further enhance their role and unlock their potentials in nation-building. In order to appreciate the role of women in nation-building, a statement by a former American Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is most instructive: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in the society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish”.
Although there is no legal and constitutional constraint that women are suffering from, the marginalization rather emanates from the cultural orientation that subordinates women to men. It is known that no man wants to work under a woman and men all together do not enjoy giving women higher authority than their male counterparts. The call for women engagement in nation building is not for a proportionate representation but for a fair share; say 40% opportunity for women to participate in key sectors that will enable them contribute to nation building.
Globally, nations as Brazil, South Korea, Malawi, Argentina, Kosova and Liberia are being led by Dima Youseff, Geun-hye Park, Joyce Banda, Cristina Fernandez, Atifete Jahaja Sirleaf respectively as presidents.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A few will deny that one of the richest under-utilized resources in the world today is the talent of women. Unfortunately, the world has for many years squandered this talent in a most shameful fashion. According to Kayode (2015) statistics has it that over half of the Nigerian population is made up of women. Yet, and regrettably so, women have not been accorded their due recognition in the national scheme of things by the Nigerian government.
In spite of the immeasurable impacts made by some women who by accident occupied public positions of trust, Nigerian women are still to gain promise or at least be granted equal opportunity to contribute to policy formulation and implementation that may contribute to nation building
It will therefore, be a problem of this study to identify the various strides and contributions of women in socio-economic and political development in Nigeria.
It is also a problem for this study to analyze the extent to which these contributions have conduced to nation-building in Nigeria.
Another problem facing this study will be to identify the challenges to women involvement in policy formulation and implementation.
Finally, examining if increased women involvement in policy formulation and implementation could engender effective nation-building in Nigeria also constitutes a problem of this study.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study focuses on highlighting deeply the concept of women and national building.
Specifically, this study will seek to find the following:
- To identify the various strides and contributions of women in socio-economic and political development in Nigeria.
- To analyze the extent to which these contributions have conduced to nation-building in Nigeria.
- To identify the challenges to women involvement in policy formulation and implementation.
- To examine if increased women involvement in policy formulation and implementation could engender effective nation-building in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide the researcher towards finding solutions to the problems under study:
- What are the various strides and contributions of women in socio-economic and political development in Nigeria?
- To what extent have these contributions conduced to nation-building in Nigeria?
- What are the challenges to women involvement in policy formulation and implementation?
- Can increased women involvement in policy formulation and implementation engender effective nation-building in Nigeria?
1.5 Statement of Hypothesis
The following hypothesis will help ascertain the independence of the variables of this research problem.
- Ho: Women cannot contribute effectively to nation building.
H1: Women can effectively contribute to nation building.
- Ho: There are no challenges affecting effective women participation in politics and decision making.
H1: There are challenges affecting effective women participation in politics and decision making.
- Ho: There cannot be increased role for women in nation building.
H1: There can be increased role for women in nation building.
1.6 Significance of the Study:
At the successful completion of this research work, it will be of tremendous importance to the following parties in the following ways:
1. Career Women:
This study will reveal how best they can contribute to nation building and thereby serve as a motivating factor for them to strive to succeed in this area of human endeavor.
2. The Government:
This study will service them with the required information that will inform them of the giant strides of achievements of the Nigerian women who have been given various opportunities to contribute to building the Nigerian nation, thereby highlighting the need to give the Nigerian women more opportunity to contribute to building the Nigerian nation.
3. Other Researchers:
This study will provide them accurate data on the contributions of women to nation building and serve them as a reference material when carrying out research on related topics.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study focuses on the role/contributions of women in nation building. The researcher narrowed the scope to cover only Anambra Central Senatorial District in Anambra state of Nigeria.
1.8 limitation of the Study
The researcher encountered problems in carrying out this research work. The problems include:
There was not enough time to gather all the necessary information relating to the study because the researcher has to combine the research work with other curricula activities.
The low financial capacity of the researcher also restricted the area of the study. As a result of this, it became necessary to limit the extent of the research to available resources.
Attitude of Respondents:
Some respondents complained of time and did not detail their response and others were not available during the researcher’s visit. And others were indifferent about the topic and could not give constructive opinion.
1.9 Definition of Terms
The following terms will be frequently used in this study and their definitions in line with the context of the study will aid easy understanding.
Adult female human beings
ii. Nation Building:
Efforts geared at improving and sustaining the social, political and economic state of a country.
iii. Gender Equality:
The principle that views both male and female humans as equal and supports equal treatment for both genders.
The action or service performed by someone (women in this case) to cause or increase the chances of achieving something (nation building).
The function or position that somebody (women) have or is expected to have in the society.
The practice of treating some people (women) in society less fairly than others (men).
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
In summary, the findings of this study revealed that the Nigerian women can effectively contribute to nation building, irrespective of their gender. This is proven by the big contributions they have made with the little opportunities given to them as they have contributed immensely by building better families that form subsets of a better Nigeria, stellar performances in various organizations that contribute to economic development and competitiveness in political participations and championing of various efforts aimed at national development.
These contributions would have been more but for such challenges as lack of adequate funding in their political campaigns, cultural and religious discrimination, women’s perception of politics as largely a game for men folks, political violence, lack of self-confidence, women’s marginalization in political party leadership and illiteracy or low level of education. But in all, it is envisaged that there will be increased role for women in nation building.
From the summary of findings, the researcher therefore, concludes that the Nigerian women can effectively contribute to nation building, irrespective of their gender.
The following conclusions have also been made:
- Nigerian women contribute to nation building by Building better families that form subsets of a better Nigeria, Stellar performances in various organizations that contribute to economic development and Competitiveness in political participations and championing of various efforts aimed at national development.
- That the challenges affecting effective women participation in politics and decision making towards nation building are Funding, cultural and religious discrimination, women’s perception of politics, political violence, lack of self-confidence, women’s marginalization in political party leadership and illiteracy or low level of education.
- And that there will be increased role for women in nation building.
From the conclusion above, the researcher gives the following recommendations:
- Stakeholders in the Nigerian political system should put their financial weights in funding capable women that are passionate about contributing to nation building and ensure that their political ambitions are realize.
- The executive arms of government at all levels should also create a balance in their political appointments and ensure that women are well represented as hems of various ministries and parastatals.
- The Nigerian women should also believe in themselves and make concerted efforts aimed at taking up the mantles of leadership at all levels and endeavors so that they can effectively contribute to nation building in Nigeria.
5.4 Suggestions for Further Research
Further research should be carried out on this topic; “The role/contributions of women in nation building” in public sector or academic institution to further ascertain a comparative view of the topic and bring more points to fore.
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