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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN NIGERIAN POLITICS: (CASE STUDY OF UDI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA)
1.1 Background of 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. “Women Empowerment and Politics in Nigeria” is born.
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.
Politics as well as I know is a game of numbers, the history of Nigerian politics is mostly with male domination, which have systematically excluded women from equal participation in Nigeria political activities.
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 various causes of marginalization of women in Nigeria politics, were the call for women empowerment.
To achieve this target, we therefore, pose the following research questions:
- Is there any relationship between politics and women participation?
- Does culture constitute a hindrance to women’s participation in politics in Udi Local Government?
- Can high educational attainment enhance women participation in politics and lack of finance?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to investigate women’s participation and factors that affect their participation in Nigeria. The specific objective are therefore, as follows:
- To examine the relationship between politics and women’s participation in politics.
- To determine how culture hinders women’s participation in Udi Local Government Area.
- To find out how high educational attainment enhances women’s participation in politics.
1.4 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.
1.5 Literature Review
The need for empowerment arises from the inability of an individual or a group of people to actualize their dreams and reach their greatest potentials due to artificial barriers created by individual and other groups within the same society. It is the manifestation of an incontrovertible inequality, segregation or marginalization.
To Oxfam (1995) empowerment involves challenging oppression, which compels millions of people to play a part in their society in terms which deny them their human rights.
Batliwa (1995) in her definition of the term empowerment stated that “empowerment is the process and result of the process whereby the powerful members of the society gain greater access and control over materials and knowledge, resources, challenges the ideologies of discrimination and subordination and transform the institutions and structures via which unequal access and control over resources is sustained and perpetuated.
The above definition means that an individual or a group of people had either lacked power nor authority by conditions of denial or default.
For Unicef (2003), illiteracy remains at the central of women empowerment problem in Nigeria. Majority of the women folk and large number of girls in this country are still grapping, with the problem of basic reading and writing skills.
Moreover, women in Nigeria are discriminated against from access to education for social and economics reasons. For instance, the Islamic practice of purdah prevented many women from benefiting from school instructions for participating in economic activities which are likely to evaluate their positions. The most negative segregation is probably the prevention of girls from going to school in some society. This has probably led to the greatest social harm of the twentieth century.
The fundamental problem is the low importance which women themselves attached to education many of them believe that the life of successful women revolves around her children, her husband and domestic chores. This lack of self ambition is problematic and prevent her from pursuing other education goals.
Aliazuem and Emezue (1986) explained that the Nigerian women especially those from eastern side of the country are known to have some kind of social expectation from role set dating back to the period of unrecorded history.
Ocheoha (1988) noted that one unanimous cry of women is that government should take positive step to balance the number of men and women in government bodies and committee as well as in public administrative entitles including the armed forces and the judiciary. In with the above, Ocheoha recommended hence gender in appointment into public offices.
She also believed that this should equally be supervised government should monitor and evaluate progress, in the representation of women through dissemination of qualitative and quantitative including empowerment process.
Ekeocha (1992) in his contribution opined that women represent in most countries, the most restricted and marginalized group. They are under represented in policy articulation and conception by the elites that perceive them as only playing a biological functions or roles.
He advised that, time has come for more established structures which will focus on more exhortation of concrete programme of empowerment. It is the responsibility of these critical ministries to enlighten women, to fashion out programmes for women education. Institute measures against domestic violence abuse integrate women in the economy and articulate a clear out role of women in empowerment process.
Omenuiyi (1992) remarked that though there is an increase in recent time in the area of women empowerment and political participation especially with the present waves of democratization that is sweeping through the country. However, there is still mismatch between the right incidence of female voter turn-out and the number of female presently, occupying elective political offices.
Etzioni (1968) was impliedly taking of empowerment when he noted that mobilization is a process by which latent energy from the view points of the active units in made available for collective actions.
However, mobilization may be used to connote a process of re-orientation to encouraging rather hitherto dormant potential units for a more culture nation. Empowerment connotes the authorization of oriented but subjugated units to engage actively in the pursuits and achievement of collective goals, empowerment is therefore used to imply the giving of energy or authority to someone or group of people who were hitherto deprived of such powers or roles in the collective scheme of things consequently while mobilization is the first step to encouraging women participation in partism politics, empowerment is the finishing touch on the programme of women participation in politics.
From historical antecedents we may now advance the cultural belief of some pre-colonial societies with a view to understanding the practical and invaluable roles women played in those societies in the period. This will help us to make or debunk a linkage of limited women participation in politics to tradi-cultural orientation of the people.
According to Azikwe (1993), empowerment could be explained to the layman to man-giving or providing power, providing the means to and opportunities for self-reliance and independence. She went on to elucidate than an empowered women is one who can and has transformed herself into a subject and is no longer an object as defined by culture and tradition. In specific terms, an empowered women is one who has asses to and control over resources such as land, money and assets, learns to say no or yes in the struggle for her rights, and possess. Some abilities and capabilities. In addition, empowerment involves, having a voice and being heard in national issues, a broadening of choices brining, about changes in the unequal relationships between the two sexes, and between government and women.
Everett (1991) observed that an empowered women, has greater control over her life, is able to define and create from women’s perceptive, is able to influence the social areas that are recognized as women’s issues makes the contribution of women ties, responsibilities and authorities.
It is important to note that the main areas of empowerment are education, politics, economic and socio-cultural. However, educational empowerment forms a base structural. However, educational empowerment forms a base structure for all other empowerment of women. In other words a women who is educationally empowered might be able to achieve economic and political empowerment all things being equal. Furthermore, programmes should be organized both at the micro and macro levels such as women’s village meetings and associations. Most importantly, empowerment should start from the home and family because from observation, some husbands disempowered their wives at home, in other words, some women have power in their place of work but loose it at home as a result of the chauvinistic attitude of their husband (Azikwe U., 1993).
The type of education needed by the rural women for empowerment ahs been developed by Azikwe (1993). Based on the expressed needs of rural women. It is classified into live areas namely: Basic literacy nutrition and home management, income generating activities, agriculture, food production and appropriate technology and primary health care. Any intervention programme developed on those expressed needs will no doubt improve the status of our sisters in the rural areas. The women in the village needs practical skills that will improve her income and life style. Some barriers to empowering women include tradition and culture, which form the fabities of the society. Secondly, most women are aware of some existing laws that are favorable to them, but do not exercise them. These are areas, where the contribution of FIDA is greatly required by Nigerian women. Laws should be promulgated to eradicate traditions and culture that are repressive towards women. FIDA should also organize seminars and enlightment campaigns to make women, especially the non-literate ones, aware of favorable laws, how to fight for their right, and provide legal assistance to women who are unable to afford it. There is the need for validation in the process of development programmes and planning education programmes for women is not an exception. Effective empowerment programmes should be based on valid primary and secondary data; provision of enough resources
(Human and material), involvement of women, women’s co-operatives associations and organization in the planning and implementation of the programmes, establishment of women’s centers and the introduction of women’s studies as an academic discipline in our educational system. There is need therefore for data bank (Everett: 1991).
A very important strategy for women empowerment that is often overlooked is the relationship that exist between, bearing in mind the doctrine that “united we stand, but divided we fail”. We should lover ourselves (women) and appreciate each other efforts and contribution. According to Everett, this cordial relationship and friendship with other women and colleagues. We should trust one another, be honest with our fellow women, encourage and support other women.
Currel (1974) Posits that women as the child bring gender, impedes their entry into the political arena. H also, said that for women to bated from this traditional bondage, that education is important. However, available data show that for economic reasons, boys are given educational preference at the expense of the girls who might be brighter.
Nwankwo (1992) enunciates that “the problem with Nigerian women in politics goes beyond awareness.” She identifies financials problem as a factor that makes most women in achieve in politics. She posits that politics has become monetized and this was obviously responsible for the eventual dropout of the female presidential aspirant, Mrs. Sarah Jubril under the platform of the social Democratic party (S.D.P) in 1992.
Asase (2003) noted that among the fundamental factors, which constrains and serves as inhibitions to female participation in politics today is the issue of finance. She also opined that people who do not support the idea of women in politics says that it is wrong for a woman to go out of her way to lobby others. Probably makes, for fund. She might as well kill her political ambition good bye before she starts.
Suleiman (2009) “The minister of women Affairs and social Development,” in her reaction to the issue of women empowerment, decried low participation and marginalization of women in Nigeria political system, attributing it to unfavorable political climate in the country. She is addition blamed the situation on violence and male chauvinism prevalent in the political climates, plus lack of financial capabilities, as some of the reasons why Nigerian women are discouraged from contesting elections, resulting in low percentage of women public office holders.
Ogbonna (2009) opined that some of the impediments to participating, contesting and wining elections in the country are money politics and power play that effectively scheme women out. Money has always been seen as major factor in the game politics, along with the relative absence of financial empowerment of women. Besides, there have always been cases of much violence and assassinations, violent clashes at rallies and sheer thug which are not really welcomed in a women’s world.
Etiaba (2009) in an interview with Emma-Enyinnaya was of the, that one of the reasons why the full potentials of women (especially in the area of politics) have been difficult to realize is due to family role expectation. Thus:
A lot of married women who strive to achieve career (political) or business success are faced with a heat wrenching conflict of roles. Again, women’s involvement in the top league of entrepreneurship in Nigeria is very limited only a few women who I can count on my finger tips sit at the a per of the organizational chart of big corporations in the oil, gas, communications, banking, manufacturing, transport, publishing and trading sectors of our economy.
In furtherance, she maintained that financial constraints have not helped matter either and the moat female entrepreneurs end up in the middle and lower cadre moat especially as it concerns political participations.
Asase (2003) equally posited that new obstacle have teamed up with old ones to work against women in governance. Sharia (as a religious and penal code) as being practiced in Zamfara state and some other northern states, for instance, is obviously a drawback to the anticipation of women in politics. Here women are not expected to mix with men in public and separate transportation has been provided for more political relevant roles for women in the polity should not be viewed as at the party. Thus, Mrs. Josephine Anenih was cautious in her response to how Sharia world affect the involvement of Northern women in politics.
“I have spoken to one or two of the governors practicing sharia, and they have assured me that it would not limit the participation of women (in governance) and that if they now say that because of sharia they will not present women candidates we” 11.deal with that when we get there.”
Ozigbo (1998) in his study noted that the traditional Nigerian society paid particular attention to women education in the home. Thus informal education was geared towards training young girls to acquire good manners and household chores. They were socialized into feminine roles of cooking, home craft child rearing practice and so in. they were saddled with heavy household, chores and sent to schools with skeptism and lack of parental support. Boys on the other hand went to school with parental and community support and approval which gave them a feeling of importance and superiority. Knowingly or unknowingly, schools added to the disadvantage through administrative practice, school curriculum, teacher behaviors and classroom environment that reflect societal values on gender. There was this attitude of marrying girls at first opportunity regardless of their ages and feelings because of the fear that girls who waited too long might not find suitable husband.
In many parts of the world, females are the victims of educational inequalities. Statistical analysis on access to education shows a disparately between girls and boys, at all levels of education. In African countries, sons receive education before daughters. Even when education is free power. Parents can only afford educate some of their children. They may decide send their sons to school rather than their daughters.
In Nigeria, the universal education (UPE) was one of the factors that led to sudden increase in the enrollment of girls in schools. In most less developed countries boys dominate in schools. But statistics in some developed countries indicates that girls enroll in school in the same extent as or more than boys (UNDP, 1990). At the tertiary level women participate less in education than men in all regions of the world. Projection to the year 2000 suggest that these inequalities in education will persist in many of the world, especially in the areas of science and technology (UNDP, 1990).
Education is the key to success and index of empowerment. It equips the individuals with skills and knowledge needed to make her an effective member of the society with education, the individual is able to initiate, embrace and mange changes. It widens the information base of the recipient, improving her skills and knowledge as well as increasing her potential for creativity. Azikwe (1993) adds that education ahs been recognized as one of the best instruments for social control and change, also an essential fool for natural development. Education facilities the liberation of the mind beyond self, ethnic or religious groupings into a more macro conceptualization of human relations and associations (Ndu; 1994).
Access to education has given women a greater sense of fulfillment. The party of investing a woman cannot be estimated especially in terms the children’s performance in school. It provides significant social returns in that women are more influential in maintaining the health and nutritional standards. Better educated female population is very lively to poster national development through changed that can be expected in the nature of labour forces participation. These will promote efficient use of resources. Female education lower fertility and thereby slows population growth because educated women prefer to have fewer children and smaller family size. Women are largely identified with the transmission of cultural and moral values of the society. A better educated population is likely to contribute not only to a more politically active adult population but also to transmission of political values as well (Okeke, 2000).
To further portray the importance of women education it was pointed out by scholars that “out of 100 typical American women, 21 years of age (6) will never marry, or the (94) who will marry (33) will see the first marriage end in divorce of the remaining (61) who are married, (46) will outlive their husbands. Thus (85) out of (100) women will be on their own sometimes during their lives”. Since education is sin qua non to individual and national development, and women make up a larger segment of most nations, than suffice it to state that any nation that is able to provide her citizens, male and female, without discrimination and biases, all things being equal. Sustainable development of a nation depends, to a large extent on full participation and contribution of every member of the society, not just the male or the educated.
To educationally neglected, a significant proportion of the society (women) could be therefore disastrous and retrogressive. Hence, Obasanjo (1992) warn that a significant stride in development is unrealistic for any country that marginalizes women who constitute a large and important segments of the society.
However, it is not exaggerating to say that certain women have not one time or the other held positions of high responsibilities, to the world reputable political leadership qualities in various capabilities in the politics of their respective national, for instance, Mrs. Felix Fortune (of the NDP). Mrs. Biola Baba tope and Mrs. Justina Eze (both in house of representative) Mrs. Florence Ita Giwa a senator between 1999 – 2003, one time personal adviser to president on legislature matters, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo Iwela. Iwela former minister of finance.
Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili former boss NAFDAC and minister of information and communication. Hadjia Zainab Maina, minister of Woman Affairs and Social Development
Not withstanding all the non-governmental organization (NGO’s) international women’s group and the awareness created by these women who participated in politics directly or indirectly and those who were appointed either as advisers. It would appear that political participation among women is still not much especially in the rural area where there are less emancipated and political oriented women.
The literatures reviewed above consider various issues and factors that hinder and limits the political space for women participation and empowerment in politics, which include educational factor, religious, cultural and financial factors.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
This work is based on “Group theory” as the framework of analysis. The intellectual roots of the group theory lies in the doctrine of pluralism as explained by a number of early twentieth century English writers. Particularly by John FIGGIS, F.W. Mattland and G.D.H Cole. On the other hand, the group theorist tried to establish the group, rather than the individual or society as the basic unit in the study of politics. Bentley stated that the “raw material we study in politics is never found in one man by himself, it can not even be stated by adding, men to men. It must be taken as it comes in many men together”. It is an a relation between men or the action of men with or upon each other.
Group theory begins with the proposition that interaction among group is the central fact of politics. Individuals with common interest band together formally or informally to press their demands upon governments. According to David Truman, an interest group is “a shared attitude group that makes certain claims upon groups in the society” such a group becomes political if and when it makes a claim through or upon any of the institutions of government. Individual are important in politics only when they act as part of or on behalf of group interest. The group becomes the essential bridge among group to influence public policy. The tasks of the political system is to mange group conflict by establishing rules of the game in the group struggle, arrange compromises and balancing interest enacting compromises in the form of public policy and enforcing these compromises.
According to the group theorists; public policy of any given time is the equilibrium reaction in the group struggle. The equilibrium is determined by the relative influence of interest groups. Changes in the relative influence of any interest groups can be expected to result in change in public policy, numbers, wealth, organizational strength, leadership, access to decision makers, and internal cohesion.
Group theory purports to describe all meaningful political activity in terms of the group struggle. Policy makers are viewed as constantly responding to group pressure, bargaining, negotiating and compromising among competing demands of influential groups. The politicians attempts to form a majority coalition of groups, in so doing, they have some latitude in determining what groups are to be included in the majority collation. The larger the constituency of the politician the greater, the number of diverse interest and greater his latitude in selecting groups to form a majority coalition.
The group theory leads logically to a particular concept of the social system and of political behavior. It is therefore, through the social system that the various groups seek to realize or maximize their interest. The group theorists are interest in the fact that the society keeps going in spite of the perpetual conflict among groups in which each is frantically pursuing its own narrow self-interest. Groups theorist have shown a great deal of interests in the internal organization and process of various groups and discussed questions concerning boundary, size, territory and forms of integration.
Claiming to understand politics and political behavior in terms of group’s conflict, the group theorists have evaded any clear – cut definition of politics. Politics according to Bentley was a rather high-level activity carried on largely by groups that some how reflected or represented the underlying force in society. Since groups could be taken as representing, than political activities, political activities could be regarded as simply one part or aspect of the total activity of groups.
Further more, since group theory deals with the interaction amongst various groups which aim at upholding and satisfying specific objectives as determined by group interest. It can then be said that women empowerment and participation in politics is a reflection of the product of the product of the group deliberation. It is note worthy to understand that individuals with common interest could come together to press home and struggle for their political right. As a result of these individual not withstanding their sex can, as important or principal factors in political participation.
The group’s internal cohesion, leadership, strength, and access to decision-making determine the impact of groups on politics in Nigeria since the actors determine the question of “who get what, when and how”. The authoritative allocation of societal values is determined by how strong a group is, that is why the more powerful a group is, the more favored it will be in terms of how it part in government decision-making. It is for this reason that group serves as the best approach to the topical issue of women empowerment and political participation, because it is an approach that incorporates the individual and group interest towards participating in politics.
Finally, since group theory conscientistes people on the need to struggle and gain access to decision-making, it has gone a long way to reduce women, under representation and gender in equality among both sex.
This theory, has been chosen for this work to it’s practical application in the analysis and understanding of the behaviors of political actors, especially as it affect the place and insignificant role of the “women group” when it comes to political participation and activities in Nigeria.
The hypotheses advanced to give direction to this research such as:
- There is relationship between politics and women participation in Nigerian politics especially in Udi Local Government Area where Fidelia Njeneze was once Minister of Aviation, and Ifeoma Nwobodo the present Enugu State Chief of Staff.
- There are some cultural hindrances to women participation in politics such as some religious practices that hinder women’s participation.
- High Educational Attainment enhances women’s participation in politics because it makes them to be literate and free from gender discrimination.
1.8 Method of Data Collection and Data Analysis
The method of my data collection includes thus:
- Primary sources which include; questionnaire, direct observation and interview.
- Secondary sources, which include collection of relevant text books, Journals, Magazines, Government Publications, Periodical and Internet.
1.9 Method of Data Presentation and Analysis
This study will present data collected from the primary sources in tables and it will adopt simple percentage as the statistical tool of analysis. This will enable the researcher to conduct a reliable and valid analysis. 37
The analysis and illustration below shows the data analysis of. The link between low participation and lack of finance. The source of my analysis was as interview carried out on 11th July, 2013 in Udi Local Government.
The chairman: Chinendu Ileje. Councellor Okechukwu Owoh.
My interview goes as follows:
|What is your Educational qualification? Qualification||Responses||Percentage (%)|