GENDER SENSITIVITY IN NIGERIAN FEDERAL GOVERNANCE AND THE EFFECTS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION SINCE 1999
Gender Sensitivity in Nigerian Federal Governance and the Effects on Affirmative Action since 1999 is a study set out to unravel how effective gender sensitivity has been in the Nigerian Federal Governance and the impacts of Affirmative Action since 1999. It examines Dimensions of heated Debates on Gender and Affirmative Action, especially as various controversial opinions rages over the introduction of Gender Based Affirmative Action. The study reviewed the major current Federal Affirmative Actions, and advocated for some Policy Alternatives for Women Equality and Progress in Nigeria. The study adopted Feminist Theory in the work. The study also utilized Secondary Source of Data Collection where we made use of books, journals, internet materials and so on. The study relied on Qualitative Research Techniques. This type of techniques is essentially the application of Qualitative Research Method in the thorough Examination and Interpretation of Research Data. We equally made use of One Group: Pre-Test, Post-Test type of Research Design. Our findings revealed that government is yet to commit itself toward redressing the issue of gender imbalances especially in the area of women’s representation in Federal Governance as none of the Federal Affirmative Actions introduced since 1999 has been able to cause any significant positive change. It therefore, concluded that promoting Gender Sensitivity and Affirmative Action in Federal Governance is a Recipe for a Sustainable National Development, National Security and Good Governance. Hence, the study finally recommended that federal government should stringently place Gender Affirmative Action at the fore front of its developmental policies by sincerely
committing itself to the formulation and implementation of Gender Affirmative Actions, in order
to achieve her set Millennium Development Goals.
1.1 Background to the Study
According to Arowolo and Abe (2008:13-14), “the essence of political participation in any society, either civilized or primitive is to seek control of power, acquisition of power and dispensing power to organize society, harness and distribute resources and to influence decision making in line with organized or individual interest”. All groups including women seek to influence the dispensation of power in line with their articulated interests as a fundamental motive of political participation. Women, in their gradual consciousness of state of mind also, in recent times, increasingly seek power equation and distribution and redistribution of resources in their favour. Although, careful observations have indicated that the participation of women in Nigerian politics is hugely noticeable at the level of voting and latent support.
As noted by Okolie (2004:53), views political participation as “freedom of expression, association, right to free flow of communication; right to influence decision process and the right to social justice, health services, better working conditions and opportunity for franchise”.
Political participation is one of the key ingredients of democracy in its real sense, hence, taking the conceptualization of democracy by Diamond (1989: xvi) into cognizance, “democracy provides the equal opportunity platform for political participation and fairness in such competition, thus; a system of government that meets three essential conditions: meaningful and extensive competition among individuals and groups, especially political parties, for all effective positions of government power, at regular intervals and excluding the use of force; a highly inclusive level of political participation in the selection of leaders and policies, at least through regular and fair election, such that no major(adult) social group is excluded; and a level of civil and political liberties, freedom to form and join organizations sufficient to ensure the integrity of political competition and participation”.
Similarly, Onyeoziri (1989:6) highlighted four domains of democracy which include: “the domain of individual and group rights and freedoms; the domain of popular and equal participation in collective decision; the domain of accountability of government to masses publics and constituent minorities; and the domain of the application of the principle of equal citizenship in all spheres of life-social, economic and political”.
In view of this, gender equality promotion is presently accepted globally as a development strategy essential for reducing poverty levels among men and women, improve health and living standards, and also enhance efficiency of public investment. The attainment of gender equality is not only seen as an end in itself and human rights issues, but also a prerequisite for the development of sustainable development.
The plight of Nigerian women, like their counterparts in other parts of developed countries have been characterized by lack of adequate representation, undue domination of men in the socio-political scheme of things; lopsided political appointments and the general imbalances associated with very unjust treatment of the female citizens in its entirety. Therefore, it common place to observe that, the womanhood is reduced to mere infidel and a second-class citizen, hence, there is the commonality of general belief system that the best place for women is the “kitchen”. This trend therefore has brought about tremendous misrepresentation of women right at the level of the family down to the circular society. Thus, the purported irrelevance associated with the status of women in society has merely reduced an average woman to an inferior commodity. The Nigerian woman is therefore, discriminated upon from, in most cases, acquiring formal education, mistreated and perpetually kept as house-help; the average Nigerian woman is seen as an object for prostitution, force marriage, street hawking, instrument
of wide-range trafficking, a misfit in the society and these ill perceptions have no option than to deepen the level of marginalization of Nigerian women (Erunke, 2011).
However, the status of women marginalization in Nigeria has varied from time to time and has taken different forms in different societies and historical epochs. In the pre-colonial society, women played vital roles in both social and economic activities. Division of labour was on gender lines. Power and privileges in the family were based on age and gender hence; it allowed elder women to have voice on many matters. That notwithstanding, beyond family level power was generally dominated by the male folk but women were not totally powerless given to the fact that some rose to prestigious chieftaincy title like Iyalode, some also became powerful queens as was obtainable in the Ondo and Daura histories. Women held high political offices like in the rein of Queen Amina of Zaria who conquered all the towns around Zamfara and Nupe, and dominated this region for 34years.Women were given freedom from male’s total domination, although men had upper hand in the system.
The colonial era injected a contaminated practice of massive women marginalization in the society through the introduction of “European patriarchatism” which indeed shot the door against women freedom and political participation. The system restricted women to child rearing and domestic chores stating that women should be subordinate to men and if allowed to attain financial freedom would ameliorate their respects for their husbands. The colonial state displaced the place of Nigerian women, infusing European patriarchatism into the system which has contributed immensely to the modern (post colonial) huge disparity in gender equality. The effects cum operations of gender inequality transcended to the post colonial era which have been a radical inhibitor to true democracy and sustainable national development. These consequences drew both national and international concern hence; leading to various crucial clamours for gender equality and proper women representation in governance.