EDUCATION WOMEN AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE

ABSTRACT

Nigeria is a patriarchal society characterized by acute discrimination, exclusion; inequality and impunity. These features are also reflected in its politics especially, as they relate to issues of gender imbalance. This study discusses the need for full participation of women in democratic governance, an issue that has been denied consideration in the Nigerian polity especially in Enugu state. This study presents various strategies that may be applied by both government and/or decision makers and women themselves for full integration of women into the mainstream of politics in Nigeria and Enugu state in particular. It is appropriate to focus on this important aspect of development in the Nigerian polity. The researcher also gave a theoretical framework and reviewed some related literatures that are in line with women and democratic governance. Most importantly, its objectives to the government; and the entire masses. In pursuit of the above goals of this study, the researcher distributed and administered questionnaires to members of the various Local Government Areas of Enugu state. The responses from the questionnaires were analyzed using simple percentage and frequency tables for proper clarification. From the analysis and interpretation/discussion of the hypotheses, the researcher found out that many factors/constraints affected full participation of women in democratic governance or politics in Enugu state, such as situational constraints which characterizes the woman’s life space as replete with confining roles of mother and home-maker which end up isolating her from easy access to important resources necessary for political action, structural constraints which argues that important societal institutions such as economy, education and law assigned to the female, positions which cripple the woman when compared with more robust positions assigned to man and socialization difference of male and female to see political activities as a male role. Based on these findings, the researcher has made some recommendations on the best way of mainstreaming women for full participation and representation of women in democratic governance/politics particularly, in Enugu state.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

All through the ages and several millennia – from the Stone Age to modern contemporary times, the struggle for dominance and superiority of the two known sexes has never abated. Deploying ideologies, culture and metaphysical practices has never been more victorious in gender struggle. Ever since, especially, since the emergence of modern democracy, and in spite of valiant and feeble attempts by gender sensitive men and women to redress this chauvinistic culture, the struggle by women to negotiate their voice into the mainstream of participation – economic, social, vocational and political, has been a permanent feature in human development.

It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the woman has been down trodden and cannot he heard. African derogatory ideologies on women are inhuman and unjust. Women are perceived to be properties and thus have been thoroughly enmeshed in the people’s mind (Anumudu, 2006). In Nigeria, the issue of marginalization of women within the economy and gender disparities in the provision of education, employment and general recognition in other spheres of life still generates a healthy debate. The woman has been the most exploited, the, most underprivileged, the worst abused and the most relegated segment of the society (Idowu, 1987:7). Although women comprise a majority of the population’, they nonetheless are often treated like a minority group assigned a definite place in the societal order, denied access to careers and power in the public arena and viewed as dependent, weak and submissive by nature (Luther, 1987).

Afonja (2007) traced the origin of female subjugation to men as not deriving from any nature inferiority but in the age-old dominance of men. The author argues that only a woman is compelled to define herself as a woman in every circumstance, whereas a man takes his manhood for granted.

Woman, according to Saliu et al (2006), is defined relative to a man. All religion gives credence to this man-derived personality of women. Both the Bible and Koran assert that Eve was created from the rib of Adam so as to assist him. A woman does not lead in prayer in Islam, against the fact of history where Aisha, one of Prophet Mohammed’s wives taught his followers a great chunk of the Koranic verses. African religions give definite roles to women, which were inexorably inferior to those of men – ass wives, mothers and home tenders. Harry (1991:8) puts the subservience theory so succinctly to warrant been copiously quoted: While art, literature and philosophy are essentially an attempt to find the world a new on a human liberty, that of the individual creator, women are so moulded and indoctrinated by tradition that they are prevented from assuming the status of being with liberty.

Meanwhile, a conspiracy is kept alive which implies that woman by nature lack creative genius
Tradition locates the confining role of women within their allotted life space and this accounts for their political orientation and institutional sexism that find women crippled by the socio-economic position assigned to them, as different from men, who have been allotted more versatile positions, including politics (Welch, 1980), and the later has become an enduring stigma by women in later life (Akande, 1983). This, according to Stacy (1981), derives from the juvenile (infant) and adult socialization stigma, which takes place in traditional societies where women are stigmatized and defined in terms of wifehood and motherhood roles to the preclusion of other vocational and political responsibilities and exposures. The kitchen-bond, child -bearing socialization process, which begins early in life for girls and women, also frees men from domestic chores and allocates to them more challenging outdoor responsibilities, some of which later include politics. This traditional stigmatization has attained archetypal dimension as social ethos, which females break with tragic consequences.
The woman question is an important socio-political issue which has attracted the attention of international organizations and government world – wide. There is a general realization now that the advancement of women in general must be addressed thoroughly because women constitute a significant percentage of the world total population and have been making tremendous contributions in all facets of the society. As opined by Folasade in Ogunba (2002), the almost world-wide recognition of the rights of women came only after centuries of work by certain individuals and later by organizations and inter-governmental bodies. The right to vote becomes the basic demand of women movements, because election was considered to be the fundamental act of political life.

Even in modern world democracies, feminists concerned with reconstructing gender and redressing gender relations and inequality are beset with the task of securing a place for women especially in the political sphere. The history of women participation in socio-economic life including political participation in Nigeria can only be dismally poorer than that of America. Yet, before the colonial invasion of Nigeria, women had been noted to perform historic roles and undertaken radical exploit in various areas of society’s life.

Ujo (2004) observed that since the first Republic and across parties, women hardly function at the central Executive Committee of political parties except at the various women wings of the party, with peripheral roles in party political decision making. The level of political engagement of women in democratic politics/governance has always been marginal or at best tokenistic. According to the author’s observation, it is true of course, that in the new democratic dispensation, women political activism has taken a more daring and more noticeable dimension, but this is marginal as they go, judging from demographic superiority of the female gender to the male in population quantification. It could still be stressed that female representation has minimal with regard to participation in elective and appointive positions since independence.

It is from the foregoing premise that the compelling need arises for women participation in democratic governance or partisan politics as a sine- qua-non for enhanced democracy, good governance and gender equality. Instances of women under-representation or under-involvement in national engagement include among others, the total exclusion of women from the 1975 fifty-one (51) member Constitution Drafting Committee, and the inclusion of only six (6) women in the forty-five (45) member Constitution Review Committee. The Constituent Assembly of 1988-89 had only fourteen (14) women of which only five were elected out of a total 449 elected members. Ifayaso (2001:413), argues that this appears as the common phenomenal trend in all the “committees, bureaus and panels set up by the military government”.

Although during the Babangida’s regime, more solid participation and recognition was accorded women, with the promulgation of the National Commission for women Decree of 1989, whose objectives clearly included the general promotion of women’s welfare, the deployment and full integration of female potentials in national development, engendering a political atmosphere and culture which eliminates all social and cultural practices that discriminate against and dehumanizes womanhood. The establishment of a board to actualize the spirit and content of this Decree is also a step in the positive engagement and emancipation of women in social polity, even within the framework of military undemocratic polity. The question that arises is: If even under military regime, such a playing space was made available for the actualization of female potential and genius, and in spite of the establishment of women bodies and vanguards such as the liberal National Council of Women Societies in Nigeria (NCWSN) and its more radical counterpart, Women In Nigeria (WIN), why has the response of women to active political participation remained so tepid and so non-aggressive, especially in the area of active contestation of elective (political) positions of the various tiers of government? Apart from Sarah Jubril of Kwara State and recently, Major Iyabo Obasanjo (rtd) and a few others who have made feeble shots in the presidency, women have not taken persuasive partisan political steps to control powers in Nigeria.

The reason for the above, according to Harry (1991), was that in spite of this political victory for women in constitutional terms, the reality is that the equality was still largely theoretical.
To strike the balance in the involvement of the two sexes or to increase the involvement of women in the political arena, it should be understood that:
Firstly, it needs to be stated that it is the responsibility of democracy to ensure egalitarian distribution and disbursement of power and political control.

Thus, .political participation of all members of the electorate is a democratic principle. The interest of the rank and file cannot be adequately catered for and ascertained if they do not actively participate in or exercise influence in power politics. Igube (2003) argues that women’s participation in public life is an issue of democratic parity and that democracy cannot be achieved without women’s full participation and contribution to decision making.

Secondly, there is need to fashion an essentially female theory of political participation women, given the plethora of constraints that impede active participation of women which is not the case with the male gender. This theory should accommodate the ideological, cultural and environmental specificities in the structure of society, which disadvantaged women. The most outstanding of these is patriarchy.

Lastly, most countries of Africa (including Nigeria) have failed to achieve the desired developmental goals of socio-economic development and wallow in poverty due to women’s exclusion from participation in the political process and policy making positions. Gender equality is a core development issue and a development objective in its own (Ezekwesili, 2005).

Women have always participated in different levels of political process. Women have always contributed to public good. The issue is that they have been excluded from the decision-making levels. For example, women always participate in the electoral process such as voting, but, they rarely get elected themselves. Yet, women are a key resource whose capacities, ideas and contributions have the potential to improve both quality and outcomes of public life and of course, improve representation is considered as a cornerstone of democracy and democratic governance.

It may be observed that the numerous problems the world faces today are as a consequence of decisions taken to the exclusion of women. Currently, decisions that affect the future have been made without the input of half of its people. Yet, we are aware or wee may not be aware that the global and national problems- social, economic, environmental and political cannot be resolved without the participation of women and taking cognizance of their needs. Women would like to be part of the process that designs solutions for these and future problems.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Women and democratic governance especially in Enugu state involves a long-term of political education, liberation movements and empowerment programmes for proper integration into Nigerian politics, so as to increase their representation and political opportunities in the future. We must admit that women constitute an oppressed, exploited and under-privileged in the third- world countries of which Nigeria is one. The political challenges of women in Nigeria and particularly in Enugu State is not in gaining political posts at different level of government, it is rather in gaining equal representation with men in the political arena (Ogunba, 2002:405).

Caldwell (2006) argues that “striking changes in women’s lives over the last 50 years have brought shifts in work roles, family lives, political and educational access and social awareness. What is now more obvious than ever is what has not changed or rather what has barely began to change – namely, women’s under-representation in positions of power and leadership”.

The recent involvement of women in political positions in Nigeria and Enugu State is being hailed by many as a seminal movement of the advancement of women in politics. But a deeper look at the current political gender balance shows that women still have a long way to go to gain equal footing in the nation’s halls of power (Hartman, 2006).

The above suggests that some of the problems or constraints to women involvement in political powers are the focus of this research work. For example, during the colonial period, there was only one woman in governance, which is Chief Ahebe, the president of Enugu Ezike Native Court (NSUDIV13/13/3:2). In the face of persistency in under-representation of women in governance and low rate of participation of women in Politics in Nigeria and for appropriate focus of this research, the work will be guided by the following questions:
(i) What roles have women played in development of Nigeria and Enugu State in particular?
(ii) What factors affect women participation in democratic governance in Enugu State?
(iii) In what ways can women be encouraged to participate fully in politics in Enugu State?

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

With the root of the problem established as poor/under-representation of women in democratic governance in Nigeria, with particular reference to Enugu State, this work is an attempt to evaluate and suggest ways of overcoming this problem. This is the broad objective of the study. But for ease of accomplishment, the specific objectives are to:
a. Make an assessment of the roles played by women in the development of Nigeria since pre-colonial times.
b. Evaluate the reason for the under-representation of women in democratic governance in Enugu State.
c. Explore ways of ensuring full participation of women in democratic governance in Enugu State.

1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Women’s participation in democratic governance had been recognized as critical for national and economic development of any nation. It is through women participation in politics the gender parity and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women can be achieved in order to meet the United Nations’ (UN) declaration on gender equality in Enugu State and Nigeria at large. The significance of this study is divided into empirical and theoretical significance.

One of the empirical significance of this study will be, creating awareness about the importance and needs for full and equal participation of women in politics (democratic governance). The various legislative arms at different levels of government will become more aware of the nature of the constitutional rights they promulgate for women and will invariably strive to justify the promulgation by implementation.

Secondly, this study will bring to light the various reasons for political education, liberation movements and women empowerment programmes. It will highlight the various constraints to women participation in politics and the effect of such constraints on women of Enugu State.
On the other hand, the theoretical significance of this study is that it will serve as a relevant literature on ways of improving women’s participation in democratic governance as it concerns Enugu State.

To new entrants into the field, this study will help them to look into the challenges of the 21set century on democratic governance as it concerns women participation.

Finally, the study will also be of immense help to the general society, as it will help them to appreciate and restore the dignity and potentials of womanhood which will enhance equal gender right in decision making.

1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

1.5.1 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

It will be wide and too unmanageable for us to say that we want to carry a study on women and governance. The meaning will be that while studying women and it and non-democratic governance and even to both political and non-political positions (that is both governmental and non-governmental positions). To escape this danger, the scope of this study was reduced to women and democratic government in Nigeria. Even at that, studying all the women in all the states in Nigeria will also be too unmanageable for us. This made us to reduce the width of the study to Enugu State. But be that as it may, the study is intended to be used in generalizing women and democratic governance in Nigeria.

1.5.2 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

Initiating and concluding a research work successfully is not always a bed of roses. Of course, there usually exist many constraints militating against a blissful study. Some of the major constraints include:
Time:
Time constraint was one of the greatest constraints that confronted this research work because the research was mainly conducted during school days due to the fact that the Local Governments under study do not work on weekends. As a result of this, the working period coincides with the official period of lectures as the researcher was at the same time preparing for and writing her examinations.
Finance:
During the research period, the researcher found out that she could not get all the necessary information required for the project due to lack of finance. Consequent upon the inadequacy of financial resources, the research study was conducted on all the Local Government Areas in Enugu State. The limited financial resources were mainly expended on transportation (since the researcher visited the areas of study several times before she was able to collect the required data) and surfing of the Internet.
Sampling limitation:
It was not possible for the research to extend investigation to every individual in Enugu State, hence, the use of sample instead of population. Therefore, the fact that sample statistics cannot be an exact representation of the population result in itself is a limitation.

Finally, another factor that contributed to the limitation of this study was the unwillingness on the part of the respondents. Some of the respondents showed lukewarm attitude in giving out vital information regarding the work because the regard those information to be secret and only meant for the internal use of their Local Government.