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This study investigates the factors that limit women’s participation in Nigeria’s politics using case study period between 1999 and 2015, among these factors are socioeconomic development, the country’s cultural heritage, historical legacies and institutional designs. The study employs secondary source as a method of data collection. The study reveals that the patriarchal system and male domination of the society, which relegates women to subordinate role, has created women’s inferiority complex and alienated them from the mainstream politics in Nigeria. The Nigerian political culture of thuggery and gangsterism has made the political terrain too dangerous for most women to venture into mainstream politics. Besides, the stigmatization of women politicians by fellow women discourages the political participation of the former while religious beliefs and institutional arrangements that restrict women to family responsibilities in the country coupled with lack of genuine and decisive affirmative action to encourage women’s political participation, have created a legacy that limit women’s political participation in the country as a whole.





  • Background of the study

Gender inequality especially in the political arena is a serious challenge being faced by women in recent times. Gender inequality has been an issue for several centuries, the world over. Though history has it that fewer women have been in power even before colonialism. Instances are the Queen of Daura, the Sarauniya of Zazzau in pre-jihad, the Angwu Tsi who was almost the counterpart of the King, with her own Palace, in the middle belt, Iyayun the Queen who ruled in fifteenth century in Oyo, after the death of her husband. [1]In the contemporary world, democracy has become the template upon which nation-states achieve sustainable development, and a template for promoting citizens participation in public decision making processes. However, politics whose etymology, practice and tradition conceptualize as male dominated, specific to the public sphere is not women friendly. The theory and practice of politics and by extension governance in Africa has inadvertently excluded the women folk for a number of reasons largely connected to colonialism, religion, culture and tradition which perceive the exercise of power as a male exclusive preserve, with women always at the receiving ends. The historical experience of the African continent from slavery to colonialism and neo-colonialism has forced a particular kind of identify on Africans- the identity of subjugation, subservience and oppression. In fact, African continent is yet to fully recover from these historical realities, despite the fact that some countries have made tremendous progress. It is instructive to mention that Africa’s historical trajectories added other layers of identities and oppressions for African women which explain the nature and context of women political socialization in Africa and their response to political activities.[2] For decades, women have confronted the problem of marginalization and exclusion from political affairs and have fought for emancipation with the view to instituting a new political order. Political emancipation and political participation are two important concepts that are vital and fundamental to democratic sustainability.[3] Both are intrinsically related, in that the extent to which women are politically emancipated- defined in terms of freedom and removal of obstacles to access to political rights, the greater the level of participation in politics and ultimately this has implication for democratic sustenance and development. This paper argues that the level of women political participation in Nigeria is low, a development that can be located within the various historical trajectories of the nation particularly colonialism and the various anti-women socio-cultural and traditional practices which have disempowered women and confined them to the private realm. However, various feminist movements, international treaties and conventions on women, and reformulation of self-identities and reconstruction of cultural values have improved the fortunes of women thereby increasing the level of political participation. Though from the foregoing, it will be seen that very, 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. Sexism has become a major problem in Nigerian politics. Women have been politically considered endangered species and their low participation in Nigerian government and politics is often associated with culture, religious, economic constraint and male chauvinism. The African society in general and Nigerian society in particular has placed most of the leadership roles on the men folk, thereby championing the course of gender inequality. Economically, some feminist perceive women’s marginality in the conduct and management of the public affairs as arising from their entrenchment of the globalized capitalists relations of production. The traditional society did not recognize the contributions of women in any decision making process. The women are carefully ignored in any important meeting of the family, community and even in government establishments. Till today, community development meetings are always held at night thereby making it impossible for most women to attend. The possibility for all citizens – both males and females to participate in the management of public affairs otherwise known as mass or popular participation is thus at the very heart of democracy[4]. Putting it more succinctly, the Inter-Parliamentary Union incorporated in the Universal declaration for Democracy that: The achievement of democracy presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society in which they work in equality and complementarity drawing mutual enrichment from their differences[5]. Although equal political opportunity for women is a goal shared by both men and women and despite increased support of women‟s equality, for thousands of years, women records poor participation in politics and decision making positions[6]. This is despite the fact that women constitute roughly half of the current world population[7]. In Nigeria, like in other parts of the world, women are at least half the country‟s population. According to the report of the 2006 Census, women constitute 48.78% of the national population, yet this numerical strength of women does not automatically translate to increase in women‟s participation in political activities in the country[8].


There are lots of socio-cultural factors hindering women participating in development efforts in the society, some of these factors stem from the patriarchal ideology of the society about women’s roles and cultural beliefs which have created lots of backwardness of women by way of gender inequality, low level of education, poverty, family, domestic commitment, location and time of literacy programme being unsuitable. According to[9], gender inequality is one of the pervasive forms of inequality, because it is present in most society. Similarly, [10]emphasized that lack of education among women is a problem that hinders women contribution to societal development, as low educational and professional attainment render them poorly equipped mentally into the male dominated world of decision making and competition. Poverty is one of the major factor hindering women from participating in any educational programme. Women in some Local Government area are restricted to many educational activities, this is because of the socio-cultural belief, low level of education and lack of awareness on the importance of women education. To them, educating a woman is a waste of resources, and so they prefer the women to stay at home because the role of a woman is always in the kitchen, even to fetch water is the duty of the male children and the male child is regarded as the superior in the house. It is against this backdrop that this study becomes pertinent


The main objective of this study is to examine women and political development in Nigeria from 1997-2015. The specific objectives are;

  1. To examine the level of women participation in government under president Olusegun Obasenjo tenure
  2. To examine the level of women participation in governance under president under Musa Yar’ Adua
  • To examine the level of women political development under president under Goodluck Jonathan

The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study;

  1. Did President Olusegun Obasenjo tenure enhanced women participation in government?
  2. Does President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua aid women political development?
  • Was there any level of women inclusiveness under President Goodluck Johnathan?

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the political development of Nigeria as the findings of this study will the political actors to make policies that will create a platform for women political development in Nigeria. The study will also be of great importance to researcher who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic as the findings of this study will serve as a reference point to further studies. The study will also be of importance to researchers, academia’s, students and the general public as the findings if this study will add to the pool of existing literature on the subject matter and also contribute to knowledge.


The scope of the study covers women and political development in Nigeria with emphasis on 1997-2015. But in the course of the study, there are some factors that limit the scope of the study;

AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

FINANCE: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.


The research methodology adopted for this research is doctrinal. That is, it is a library oriented research. By this research methodology, primary research materials will be sourced from treaties, protocols, conventions and other international legal instruments and case laws. Secondary research materials will be sourced from text books, journals, magazines and newspaper publications etc. This study is historical and library based as most of the articles and material for the study were sourced from library and other secondary sources. Therefore the sources of data of the study is secondary data.

[1] (Modupe, 2001).

[2] Osimen Goddy Uwa

[3] Political participation and gender inequality in nigerian fourth republic


[4] (Sodaro, 2011)

[5] (Inter-parliamentary Union, 1999)

[6] (Waylen, 2010; Anifowose, 2014; Pokam, 2016; Henderson, 2006)

[7] (Pascaud-Becane, 1999; Babatunde, 2003; Anifowose, 2015 Bari, 2015)

[8] (Kukah, 2013; Abdu, 2013; Nigeria CEDAW NGO Coalition Shadow Report, 2018)

[9] Kabeer in Agbalajobi (2018)

[10] Odufawa and Dosumu (2018)