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1.0                                           INTRODUCTION

1.1                                BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Gender incongruity in politics is a worldwide phenomenon, literature abounds showing that the level of women’s participation at the highest level of political activity accounts for their invisibility in the top positions of power. Locally and internationally, such low representation cut across countries with different political systems and at different stage of economic development (Rai, 2005 & Pokam, 2006; Amadiume, 1997:81; Bruce, 2004:113; Babatunde, 2003; Bari, 2005). 

Democratic government depends upon the equality of all citizens under the law and it is sustained by relying upon the participation of all citizens in determining the elections and political processes, who governs them (Sodaro, 2001:247, Anifowose, 2004:205). The political participation of women is closely linked with their legal status which has an impact on their ability to contribute to economic and social progress while also benefitting from it.

This global low women’s participation in politics has prompted the emergence of campaigns to increase women’s political presence in countries around the world. The first major international action in favor of women universally was taken by United Nations in 1946 when it set up a commission on the status of women (Peterson & Runyan, 1999:11; Akiyode-Afolabi et al, 2003).

During the International Women’s Year in 1975, the UN General Assembly launched the UN Decade for Women (1976 – 1985) with a view to creating greater global awareness on the status of women and the girl child (Akinboye, 2004:13). This concern climaxed with the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 held in Beijing, China with the theme “Equality, Development and Peace”, the aim of which was to review and appraise the achievements of the UN Decade for Women (Omotola, 2007:33).

The UN Assembly again in 1976 established the Voluntary Fund for the UN Decade for Women to implement the objectives of the Decade (Oyekanmi, 2004:44). It also adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which became effective in 1981 (Rai, 2005:3). In 1985 however, the General Assembly gave the Organization an expanded mandate to join the UN group of agencies as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) with the mission to promote the economic and political empowerment of women in developing countries. In addition, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) work towards strengthening women’s political leadership and their participation in political decision-making bodies (Olojede, 2004:120). These events marked a watershed in human resource development as it brought women, the other half of the world’s population, into development. 

          However, despite these international instruments to encourage women involvement in political activities, the world still witnesses slow progress of women participation in politics (UNDP Report, 2005) which indicates that there are only twelve countries where women attained the critical mass of 30% women representation in the parliament, namely Rwanda, Sweden Finland, Argentina (IPU, 2007). 

In Nigeria, it would appear that women have never really tested power in the realm of Nigerian politics. However, literature abounds showing women’s participation in politics. The place of women in politics during the pre-modern period is sufficiently familiar. The exploits of legendary women like QUEEN Aminat of Zauzau, Iyalode Efunsetan Aniwura of Ibadan, princes Inikpi of Igala and Emotan of Benin reality come to mind (Abubakar, 1992). During   the period, women asserted and expressed themselves politically. Some women who made their mark on political scene at the colonial period in Nigeria included: Mrs Margret Ekpo of the famous Abba women riot of 1929, Madam Abibat Tinubu of Lagos and Egbaland, Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of the Abeokuta women union of 1948 and Hajia Sawaba Ganbo of Northern Element Union (NEPU) to mention a few. Though women enjoyed high political authority in Southern Nigeria,   this was not a general Phenomenon; men had always been dominant in the political structure with women complementing them. Women activities were subordinate and supplement to the existing structure. In Nigeria studies show that the participation of women in democratic politics has been largely low. In liberal democracies, political parties, legislature assemblies and executive councils are vital sources of decision making among other power centres. Political parties in particular provide the citizens with the opportunity of participating in the management of a country’s affairs and constitute a major platform for selecting and promoting candidate for elections. They also provide avenue for mass mobilization and provision of political leadership for the Nation. Political parties also organize and share power in parliament as well as influence the decision of government and other executive bodies. Since the emergence of indigenous political leadership in 1960, Nigeria women have remained invisible in the party system. Women were grossly under-represented in party membership as well as in decision making organs. The marginal showing of women in  political parties made it difficult for a visible women party constituency to emerge or develop.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

The issue of women’s participation in governance in Nigeria gained significant attention, following the country’s return to democracy in 1999. The transfer of power from the military regime to a democratic administration should have brought about women representation in democratic dispensation. However, the result is contrary to expectation, with the percentage increase of 2%, 4% and 6% in women participation in democracy. The country witnessed 6.3%, 8.8% and 7.3% of women representation in the national parliament in 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections respectively. It is obvious that the perception that democracy would automatically boost women’s participation in governancehas not been validated after about fifteen years of return to democratic dispensation in Nigeria (Okocha, 2007; Akioyede-Afolabi, 2003). 

While Nigeria has not been able to produce a female elected governor since the return of democracy in the 1999, few states have produced female deputy-governor out of the 36 states in the country. As states like Lagos, Ebonyi, Osun, Imo, Plateau, Rivers, Enugu, Akwa-Ibom and Anambra States, out of the 36 deputy-governors in the country.  The percentages of women in the States’ Houses of Assembly across the country were 1.21%, 3.84% and 5.5% in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections respectively. In the 2007 elections, Ebonyi State produced only 1 women out of the 22-member State House of Assembly. 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 governance. Women have been politically considered endangered species and their low participation in Nigerian government and governanceis 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.

A relationship, which ensures that majority of Nigerian women are peasants and home makers. Nonetheless, feminists have failed to fundamentally unravel in their explanatory analysis to the feminine gender self-emulating attitudes. Feminine gender-self-destructive factors is the decline of women participation in government and it is often lay in exist analysis, for instance, the 1991 population census put the number of Nigerian women at about 44 million which is almost 50%, and by implication, half of the Nigerian electorates (National Population Census Commission). This electoral power has not been converted to assertive feminine electoral and political advantages over the years (NNCC Report, 1991).

In recent past, however, especially in the wake of the millennium and also in the 2011 general elections, many women have risen up to the challenges of the time. Many women have come to assume leadership positions, thereby participating in governanceacross Nigeria. This is a giant step in the right direction as it will go a long way in encouraging women participation in governancein Nigeria society.

The 2011 and 2015 general elections presented women 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. All these groups of women are after the actualizing the 35% Affirmative Action Committee by the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

The 2011 and 2015 general election was seen as a good platform to authenticate the voting pattern of Nigerian women and their participation in governance. It is truly evident the active participation and the support of women to the 2011 and 2015 campaigns and elections, hence the need for reflection and focused advocacy for the conscious and quality inclusion of women in the structures of the newly elected government and parliament through clear pronouncements and action, thereby promoting governance(AIT’s Focus Nigeria, 2012).

1.3 Objectives of the Study

This research study aims at investigating the effect of women involvement in Governance as a panacea to Nigeria Socio-economic problem. In pursuance of this therefore, this study hopes to achieve the following aims and objectives:

1.      To access the nature of women’s involvement and participation in politics and government and effect on development in Ebonyi State.

2.      To document the current scenario of Women’s participation in development in Ebonyi

3.      To identify the economic disadvantages associated with the women failure to participate in government on Ebonyi state development in from 1999 – 2015.

4.      To make some suggestions that will enhance women’s participation in governance

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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