WOMEN AND POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION IN NIGERIA (A STUDY OF AKWA IBOM STATE FROM 1999 – 2007)
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
According to the major world’s religious beliefs, all of mankind (both male and female) are God’s creation and are therefore equal before God. Ironically the reverse is the case in many countries especially in traditional societies, as the male have assumed superiority over the female.
In the world, women are indisputably a force to reckon with in the social, economic and political development of any nation. This is not just because they are directly involved in the production of larger chunk of food consumed around the world, but more because during the tender ages of a child’s development, they make the greatest impact on the child’s thought which will to a large extent, determine the child’s approach to life (Goetz, 1995).
In Akwa Ibom State, men hold a belief that women have no right to participate in politics, and also represent them (men) in public offices. Men in Akwa Ibom perceived women as second class citizens who are only to be seen and not to be heard. Women are also viewed as economic liabilities thus making them to live under great disadvantage.
This work will therefore X-ray issues, constraints, and strategies to remedy the problem of gender inequality and political discrimination against women in Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Akwa Ibom State, women have encountered a number of problems while venturing into politics. There is large scale discrimination from the men folk, both in voting for candidates and in allocating political offices.
Women usually constitute a smaller percentage of political party membership because of the social, cultural and religious attitudes of the Nigerian society which most often tends to relegate women to the background. As a result, only very few men, even among the educated, allow their wives to come out and participate in politics. This study therefore seeks to identify and examine the discriminatory practices that are responsible for the low participation of women in Akwa Ibom State politics.
1.3 STUDY OBJECTIVES
- i) To ascertain and examine the socio-cultural, political and economic factors encouraging political discrimination against women.
- ii) To suggest ways to reduce the political discrimination against women.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The recommendation from the study will help to reduce the discrimination being faced by women in politics, thereby contributing to the attainment of gender equality in the society. The study will also contribute to the existing body of literature as well as stimulate further research in the subject area.
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
There are different theories and approaches in political science that could best be deployed to analyze general political discrimination against women in most countries (whether advanced or developing democracies). However, group theory is applied in this research.
According to Truman (1951) Group theory is a collection of individuals that may, on the basis of shared attitudes or interests, make claims upon other groups in society.
This theory has to do with many groups in the society either support Government or oppose them. In some groups, gender stereotype exist, that is why women are seen as inferior and men superior. Women are not allowed to head groups that are form by women such as market women organization. Some government prefer the men groups to that of female, making them (female) to feel less important in the society.
In democracy, there should be nothing like gender discrimination, but many man claims that women can not rule them because they perceived women as second class citizens who are only to be seen and not to be heard.
The higher the level of political discrimination against women, the lower their level of participation in politics.
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This research is qualitative in nature. The study will therefore rely solely on secondary sources of data such as newspapers, textbooks, journals and other documentary materials, as well as the internet.
1.8 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
In terms of scope, the researcher will largely depend on data gathered from the 1999 and 2007 General elections conducted in Akwa Ibom State. This work is so delimited due mainly to time constraint and inadequate finance.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Discrimination: Is the practice of treating somebody or a particular group in society less fairly than others.
Gender: Gender refers to a system of roles and relationship between women and men that are determined not biologically but by the social, political and economic context.
Democracy: Democracy is about “people rule” and in a democratic policy citizens are presumed to have equal rights, opportunities and voice in the governance of the public domain.
Political: It is connected with the state, government or public affairs. It is also connected with the different groups working in politics, especially their policies and the competition between them.
Conflict: Is a situation in which people, groups, or countries are involved in the pursuit of incompatible goals or interests.