1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The increasing agitations for gender equality have raised intense academic discourse on poor participation of women in politics all over the world. Women’s low political participation is a universal phenomenon. However the imperative of women participation in democratic governance cannot be over emphasized. Sustainable democracy relies upon the equality and complementary participation of a men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society through political processes. However, despite widespread democratization in most countries, women record poor participation in politics and decision making process across the world. It has been acknowledged that the development of any country requires the participation of both men and women. In Nigeria, although women constitute 48.78% of the national population, the average representation of women in national politics has hardly ever been more than 3%. The challenge of women’s participation in Nigeria’s politics became worrisome following the country’s return to democracy in 1999. With the transfer of power from the military regime to a civilian democratic administration, one had expected a substantial improvement in women’s political participation in the country. There is global recognition that gender equality in political participation is a fundamental aspect of modern democratic governance. It is suggested that both men and women should have equal rights and opportunities to participate fully in all aspects and at all levels of political processes. But in practice, women face challenges and the number of women in leadership and decision making positions is abysmally low. Meanwhile, it has been proven that countries with increased women’s participation in politics and leadership position tend to be more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic. Scholars have made it known that gender inequality have made it difficult for one half of the population (women) to make significant contribution to development hence the need to understand gender and gender relations. The issue of gender is better understood when analysed with the concept of sex, gender relations and patriarchy. Globally women are marginalized even in the so-called advanced democracies, women are still marginalized. For instance in UK and United States as at 1994, women representation in parliament was 9.1 and 9.0 percent respectively. Although women constitute over 50% of the population of the world, they are relegated to the background in every facet of life. It is of great important to note that there is a big difference between sex and gender. Sex has to do with the biological differences between male and female. Gender is the social and cultural constructed roles for men and women. Take for instance, gender roles of men as owners of property, decision makers and heads of household are socially, historically and culturally constructed and have nothing to do with biological differences. Gender roles differ from place to place and change with time. As noted above, women have been historically marginalized in all spheres of life including social, economic and political spheres. Even when there is a growing recognition of the untapped capacity and talents of women and women’s leadership, it is obvious therefore, that the perception that democracy would automatically boost women’s political involvement in Nigeria has not been validated after eighteen years of its return to civilian rule.
Over the years, there has been raging debates over the participation or desire of women in Nigerian politics. Some argue that: Women are regarded as weaker sexes are social constructs owing to social value, norms and beliefs, which have neglected their meaningful contributions and have placed them in a subordinate position to men in the nation’s political system. This ‘sexual division of labour’ in the political system is often traced to the onset of colonialism in Nigeria. Their Western cultural notion of male superiority reflected in their relations with Nigerians. The 1922 Sir Hugh Clifford Constitution disenfranchised women and limited the participation of adult male to the wealthy. This is not to say that there was no existing element of gender inequality in traditional state and stateless societies in Nigeria but that the colonial order made gender discrimination more pronounced. In traditional Yoruba states, for example, women held high political offices like the Iyalode, Iyaloja, Iyalaje and even the office of the Oba. But at the establishment of the colonial order, women became estranged to these rights politically, but in the Yoruba Kingdoms they could still perform their traditional roles. The political enfranchisement of women in Nigeria politics seems to have maintained on the surface a level of gender equity politically, because it is assumed that constitutionally there are not barriers to women’s participation. But what exactly is/are the problems and prospects women encounter in their quest to participate in politics? Women movements can be said to have been largely responsible for increase in political participation of women. Kira Sanbonmatsu recognized an important variable responsible for the increase in women participation other than women movements. In her study, she concluded that “women would be even more supportive of electing more women to public office if they were knowledgeable as men about the extent of women’s under representation” (Sanbonmatsu 2016). She also went further to distinguish their ‘descriptive’ representation from ‘substantive’ representation. Descriptive representation referred to the representation of their respective constituency, whereas substantive referred to representation based on gender (the prioritizing of the pursuit of women interest by female representatives). Thus, is women’s participation actually substantive – for the pursuit of the interest of women; is women’s participation actually descriptive – for the pursuit of the interest of their constituency; or is women increase in political participation a movement in itself?
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to evaluate gender inequality and political representation in Nigeria. Other specific objectives are as follows;
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no effect of gender inequality on political representation in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant effect of gender inequality on political representation in Nigeria.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The paper, is very important in many ways, it will help the Nigerian government to identify and understand that women under representation is a serious problem affecting our nation in third world. Research findings like this will whip up public momentum and provide the basis to hold policy owners like the political parties and government to their policy promises. It is hoped that the research findings will add to existing literature on the Nigerian women’s participation in the super-structure level of politics. The outcome of this study will be a relevant academic material for policy makers, students of research and civil society organizations. Also women politicians will find the findings useful as it will inform them about the factors that affect their participation in national politics. It will also expose the effect of women under-representation in politics in Nigeria.
1.7. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to gender inequality and political representation in Nigeria: evaluation of political appointees from 2015-2015, a case study of Plateau state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Participation: Is a process where citizens are actively involved in expressing their views on issues of governance and development. Participation here goes beyond merely including citizens in governance but giving them the power and authority to influence decisions that affect their lives.
Politics: The activities associated with governing, with obtaining legislative or executive power. This includes taking part in political party campaigns, seeking for election or being associated with an organization that seeks to promote governance by holding government accountable through policy engagement, demonstrations and processions.
Inequality: Unequal power relations between men and women where the latter is under represented in political governance at both national and local levels.
Gender equality: This refers to a situation where women and men have equal conditions for realising their full human rights and potentials; are able to contribute equally to national, political, economic, social and cultural development and benefit equally from the results. Furthermore, it entails that the underlying causes of discrimination are systematically identified and removed in order to give men and women equal opportunities. Equality is therefore understood to include both formal equality and substantive equality, and not merely simple equality to men.
OTHER SIMILAR POLITICAL SCIENCE PROJECTS AND MATERIALS