GENDER POLITICS IN NIGERIA
Despite the advances towards recognition of women’s political, economic and social interaction with men during the 21stcentury, there is a continuing lack of women policy-makers in Nigeria. Women are largely absent from positions in the local, national and international institutions that govern our daily lives. This observation is that women tend to be discriminated against when it comes to participation in political activities or decision-making processes. Women’s continuing absence from key positions in the political, economic and social institutions is not only disappointing but also nauseating. This problem seems to be acute in Akwa Ibom State, our area of investigation and also in Nigeria in general. This work investigates in-depth female gender and political participation and their involvement in the decision-making processes. Problems confronting women in their political nature have been highlighted and solutions proferred.
The marginalization and brutalization of women in the Nigerian society especially in Akwa Ibom State has instigated academics interest in gender-oriented issues. Gender and political participation in Nigeria vis-à-vis Akwa Ibom State has been in issue of concern to many women activists.
Women constitute more than fifty percent (50%) of the total population in every society, yet events appear to have moved to a pedestal that can no longer be accepted by the female sex success, it is accepted, should be achieved through hard work and competition, but the society has made it impossible for “other sex” to compete favourably with men. Although women participation in political activities, though, it is still difficult to find a situation where females are nominated during elections for higher positions in government. This has continued to happen because party chairmen is a man and the men hold other important positions in the party.
Although women play vital role in campaigning and mobilizing support for the individual parties, it is rare to find them where power belongs. Where women are to be relegated at the back, religion, tradition and beliefs are brought into solidify the society’s ground for treating women as “second” class citizens. Inspite of many female organisation that have been established fore sole purpose of fighting for women’s rights, it is still impossible for the women to acquire up to five percent (5%) position in policy making institution in Akwa Ibom State.
It is on record that women fight poverty here in Akwa Ibom State. The establishment of many cottage industries such as cassava frying industry, soap making industry, pottery industry, fish smoking industries and others, can testify to the policy initiatives of women in the state. Women in Akwa Ibom State are good at mobilization and formation of co-operative societies and these are run effectively.
Besides, in any political scene or system the paramount objective of political participation is interest. Again political participation has as its micro analysis focuses on individual behaviour. Both men and women exhibit political behaviour, but highly seen in men. However, women’s participation in political activities at the community, national and international level is still very low. The political participation here include not only right to vote and actual voting, but also the candidacy, election and appointment of women at all levels of government and within the party structures.
In this research work, women and political participation shall be discussed, social status and participation shall be discussed, barriers to women political participation shall be succinctly discussed, Gender and socio-cultural constraints and finally, the women’s role in greater participation shall be examined.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Politics or political activities can not function without individual participation. It is the masses that are mostly expected to participate because the power comes from them. Apart from ordinary voting exercise women are not given chance to vie for political position in any level of government. As such men are more preferable in sensitive political offices and positions to women counterpart, claiming women is weak, fearful, incompetent and passive. By this women can not attain equal status with men. People in disadvantaged position, such as women are considered not useful or important constituents when important political decisions are made. Repressive structures never focus on the many people they have disadvantaged, but on the few they have given support. The arrangement which make women and women’s issue invisible or very marginal are based on a power system that is not only undemocratic but also works at continuing the dominance of men over women. It is possible for women to change the order that keeps them in positions that seriously limit their development both as individuals and as a groups. This raises these pertinent questions:
Has gender sensitization led to increase participation of Akwa Ibom Women in the State of House of Assembly.
Is there any significant relationship between socio-economic status and women participation politics, especially in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
1.3 Objective of Study
The objectives of this study are:
To examine the level of equality in gender politics.
To examine the restriction of women in political activities.
To access the factors that will lead to progress and improvement of women in politics.
1.4 Significance of Study
In view of the recurrent nature of politics in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole, this study is significant in number of ways. The study will broaden the theoretical understanding of the subject matter of gender politics and how women are marginalized in political field.
The study will contribute new ideas as well as fill lacuna in the stock of existing knowledge and literature in the area of gender politics.
Again, this study will service as guidelines and reference document to future researchers who will be able to improve up the findings therein.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Gender sensitization has led to increase participation of Akwa Ibom Women in the State House of Assembly.
There is a significant relationship between increase in women participation in politics in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and their socio-economic status.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The major focus of this study is on the gender politics Nigeria as it shows greater levels of inequality gender wise. Attention will be given to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly between 2003 and 2007.
1.7 Research Methodology
This is an empirical and descriptive research for which data are generated through the primary and secondary sources. The primary source will rely mainly on questionnaire, which will be administered on sample population of seven (7) groups or set of people in Akwa Ibom State.
The second sources of data collection include books, academic journals, magazines, Newspapers, official government publications and other library material related to the subject matter. The data so collected will be analysed quantitatively and qualitatively to establish the relationship between gender (men and women) and politics.
1.8 Definition of Terms
For better understanding in this research work, it is pertinent to give operational definition of some important or key words used in the research work.
Constituency: Constituency is an electoral district or area demarcated by the electoral commission from which member or members of parliament are to be elected.
Citizen: Citizen is a legal member of a state with full constitutional or legal right in a country which he or she resides. He performs his duties and owes allegiance to the government of the state and he is entitled to protection by the state in which he resides.
Citizenship: It is the status of individuals who live in a particular state and possesses a full legal and political right in that state. It is a relationship between the individual and the state.
Coup detat: This is the foreceful overthrow of civilian government by the military. This is when military come to power through the barrel of gun.
Gender: Gender is the different and unequal perceptions, views, roles and relevance, reward which a society assigns to men and women through its culture.
Democracy: Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people. It is a government ruled by the majority or people. A democratic government must on the consent of the governed, and its policies must be responsive to their desires.
Politics: This is the authoritative allocation of value in the society. It entails the making of decisions regarding what society should do, when, how and why it should do it and who should determine these things.
Political Apathy: This is a state of being less concerned or interested in political affairs.
Political Behaviour: This is the positive attitude one has towards politics or political matters.
Political Participation: This is a state of taking active part and involvement in government, state and political matters.
Political Culture: This is the pattern of individual attitude and orientation towards politics and among.
Power: Power is the ability or the capacity to force another person or group of persons to obey whether the person likes it or not. It is the ability to compel compliance.
1.9 Theoretical Framework
This study is cast into framework of the political culture Approach as propounded by Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba: Political culture refers to the values, beliefs emotional attitudes and orientation of people towards the political system. according to the theory, political participation in any society is determined by the type of political prevalent in the society. Almond and Verba (1963) define political culture as
“The specific political orientations, attitudes towards the political system and its various parts, and the attitude towards the role of the self in the system”.
Almond and Verba further assert that there are three major or pure types of political culture, namely, parochial, subject and participant political cultures.
The parochial expects nothing from the system and does not participate actively in politics. Here, citizens have little or no awareness or orientation towards political systems.
In subject political culture, the citizens are marginalized and therefore remain essentially passive or apathetic. He may be conscious of the multifarious functions government but has little awareness of the input, processes or of himself as a participant or initiator of demand.
In a participant political culture, citizens have a positive orientation to the political system, its input and output processes. Political participants are characterized by meaningful and active participation in politics.
The aim of the political culture is to define what individual values, shared beliefs and emotional attitude should be. It provides structure and meaning to political life. To the extent that individual action or behaviour could sometimes have great impact on the performance of the political system, political culture approach becomes available conceptual tool for this study and prediction of individual behaviour in a particular political system (Eminue, 2001:95).
In relating the political culture approach to the study’s analysis of gender politics in Nigeria and indeed Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the study draws Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as an avenue for scrutinizing levels of political participation among the citizens. The political participation hinges on the feelings, beliefs, value, orientation, behaviour and attitude of individuals towards political matters. The parochial and subject political culture explain that some citizens have low orientation and negative feelings towards political matters. Such people or citizens are always marginalized by those who take very active part in political matters. The political culture approach comes in here in gender political because women, considered as weaker sex have low orientation, low and negative feelings towards political matters. While men who are strong have high orientation and positive feelings and attitude toward political matters. This is the most reason males(men) dominate females (women) in political scene; Only very few number of women take active part in decision making in government or occupy political offices either through election or appointment. This could be backed by their academic and socio-economic status. Occupying a political office is sequel to the active involvement in political matters.
Almond and Verba (1963) The Civil Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in five nation. Princeton University Press.
Awofeso O. and Ogunbodede A. (2002) Dynamics of Politics and Religion in Nigeria (A Socio-cultural Analysis) Afahande and Brothers Pub. Com.
Christian, O. E. Enoh (1997). An Introduction to Empirical Research in social science and humanities. Etofia Media Services Ltd, Uyo.
Eminue Okon (2001) Introduction to political science. Clear Lines Publications Limited, Lagos.
Ikpe Ukana B. (2000) Political Behaviour and Electoral Politics in Nigeria (A political Economic Interpretation): Golden Educational Publishers, Uyo.