1.1. BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Women constitute over half of the world’s population and contribute in vital ways to societal development generally according to Afolabi et al. (2003). In most societies of Nigeria women assume five key roles: mother, producer, home-manager, community organizer and socio-cultural and political activists. Of these roles mentioned, political activist has been engendered by women movements attributed to historical gender discrimination and inequality. Gender inequality has been an issue for several centuries, over the world especially in the political arena which is a serious challenge being faced by women in recent times. Though it has been found historically that fewer women have been in power even before colonialism, for instance are Queen of Daura, the Sarauniya of Zazzau in pre-jihad, the Angwu Tsi of the middle belt region who was almost the counterpart of the King with her own Palace, Queen Iyayun who ruled in Oyo in the fifteenth century after the death of her husband (Modupe, 2001). From this, it can be seen that very, few women have had the opportunity in a leadership position, yet in every one or single case of women, there are several hundreds of the male counterparts. Therefore sexism has become a major problem in Nigerian politics. Gender equality in politics is largely seen as part of developmental agenda of current liberalisation project. Issues of women have now become an integral part of contemporary governance discourse and this is great due to the increasing recognition of women as positive contributors to economic and political developments. The reason for promoting women’s participation in political dispensation is based on equity, quality and development. There are four interrelated areas emerging from on-going studies of gender inequality in political representation. These are: (i) structural impediments attributed to patriarchal ethos and entrenched gender biases that impede women’s representation in governance processes; (ii) institutional barriers and failures to systemize, domesticate and enforce gender equity instruments; (iii) contextual challenges, such as violent conflicts, political instability, and reconfiguration of political power; and (iv) internal challenges within women’s movements and networks (Ekiyor & Lo, 2009). The current democratization process is characterized by consistent and conspicuous under-representation of women in elective and appointive positions of leadership despite the fact that women are estimated to be 50% of the population of over 140 million, and registered voter population of about 70 million. When measured by social, economic and human development indicators Nigeria women remain marginal to men (INEC, 2013). In this context, the role of women in good governance and nation-building cannot be over emphasized. Equal or better representation of women is considered very important for the proper development of any country, and the seriousness devoted to this is reflected in the declaration of Affirmative Action by the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). Feminine gender-self-destructive factors is the decline of women participation and representation in government and it is often lay in exist analysis. This electoral power has not been converted to assertive feminine electoral and political advantages over the years (NNCC Report, 1991). In the past, however, especially in the wake of the millennium and also in the 2015 and 2019 general elections, many women have risen up to the challenges of the time. Many women in Nigeria have come to assume leadership positions in both politics and religion, which is a giant step in the right direction as it will go a long way in breaking the jinx of gender inequality and male chauvinism in Nigeria society. Women are presented with good opportunities to navigate the way to power; those in attendance were female legislators, representative of various women’s groups, women and male gender activists, the market women’s association, professional associations and media practitioners in the 2015 and 2019 general elections. All these groups of women are after the actualizing the 35% Affirmative Action Committee by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The last concluded general election was seen as a good platform to authenticate the voting pattern of Nigerian women. There was truly evident on the active participation and the support of women to the 2015 and 2019 campaigns and elections, hence the need for reflection and focused advocacy for the quality inclusion of women in the structures of the newly elected government through clear pronouncements and action. It is in a bid to find a lasting solution to issue of women’s misrepresentation in Nigeria political system which often led many gender activists to demand for the United Nations 35% quota of women representation in all elective position which had poses some of the few research questions in a view of obtaining reasonable and positive answers.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Regardless of the progress made by women in such areas as education, the professions and employment, the women still remain largely excluded from the mainstream of political activities of most societies including Rivers State, Nigeria. Even with the resolution made at Beijing women conference of 1995, that thirty percent of all elective offices be reserved for women, women are yet to come into politics in Nigeria. Women participation in grass-root politic has been only in the fringes. Yet when it is time for politics, women are mobilized to vote. Women are considered only good for fanfares for political rallies – dressed up for singing, dancing and clapping, after which they are given insignificant gift items like bags of rice and its condiments, wrappers, etc to share. Women are only seen but not heard in the political arena. Therefore, it is the aim of this study to identify barriers to women representation in Rivers State politics.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to evaluate gender inequality and women 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 women political representation in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant effect of gender inequality on women 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 political representation 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 women political representation in Nigeria: an analysis of political appointees from 2015-2019, case study of Rivers 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.
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