Empowering the Disempowered: Women Political Participation and Democratic Governance in Nigeria's Fourth Republic

Leke Oke



 Nigerian women constitute about half of the population of the country and are known to have played vita] roles in societal administration as mothers, producers, community organizers and socio-political activists. However, in spite of the historical roles of women and their population, they are yet to be accorded the needed recognition in most societies and particularly in Nigeria This scenario is attributed to some cultural stereotypes, abuse of religion, traditional practices, thuggery, and commoditization of politics, militarism, and rigid patriarchal structures. The prolonged military rule engendered lackadaisical attitude to women issues and their empowerment resulting into lack of serious political will to prosecute and propagate issues relating to women. Thus, the Nigerian women are marginalised in governance and decision-making processes. The transition from dictatorship to democratic governance however, has not significantly impacted positively on women participation in politics. Although the number of women in political offices has improved since the inception of democratic rule in 1999, the degree of improvement remains marginal. This has implication for enduring progress and development. Utilizing qualitative research, and with the use of secondary data, the paper therefore analyzes the situation of Nigerian women vis-a-vis the new democratic regime. It contends that with democracy, nothing fundamental has changed about the marginalized uatus of the Nigerian women. With no serious official governmental policy towards empowering women, the paper concludes that a systemic individualized approach resulting in authorities imbibing democratic culture and having a democratized mind is capable of transforming and empowering the women.

Full Text:



Lovenduski, ]. and Randall, V. (1993), Contemporary Feminist Politics: Women and Power in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 115.

Boserup, E. (1970). Women's Role in &onomic Development. New York: St. Martins Press, p. 20.

Oruche, J. (2004). Women and National Development. The Comet April 27, p. 16.

Halfani, M.S. (1993). Constraints on Empowerment (eds.) Sandbrook, R. and Halfani, M. Empowering People: Building Community Civil Associations and Legality in Africa. University of Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, p. 2.

Ogunleye-Adetona, C.I. (2003). Gender Issues and Development: A Welfaristic Perspective. International Journal of Gender and Health Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, Ikot Ekpene: Development Universal Consortia, p. 211.

Ihonvbere, J.O. (1995). Beyond Governance: The State and Democratization in sub-Sahara Africa. Journal of Asian and African Studies, No. 50, pg. 153.

National Gender Policy. (2006). Abuja: Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development, p. 122.

Halfani, M.S. (1993). Constraints on Empowerment (eds.) Sandbrook, R. and Halfani, M. Empowering People: Building Community Civil Associations and Legality in Africa. University of Toronto: Center for Urban and Community Studies, p. 80.

Enemuo, F.C. (1999). Gender and Women Empowerment (eds.) Anifowose, R. and Enemuo, F.C. Elements of Politics. Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd, pp. 233-234.

United Nations Development Programme, Nigerian Human Development Report (1996). Lagos: UNDP, 1997.

National Gender Policy (2006). Ahuja: Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development, p. 124.

Okwuosa, A. (1996). Women in elective positions in the transition period 1989-193. Eds. Osinulu, C. and Mba, N. Nigerian women in Politics 1986 -1993. Lagos: Malthouse Press Limited, p. 118.

MClosky, H. (1968). Political Participation. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. New York: Collier-Macmillan.

Ranney, A. (1975). The Governing of Men. 4th ed. Illinois: The Drydfu Press, p. 309.

Holden, B. (1988). Cited in Jega, A.M. (2005). The Evolution of the Concept and Institutions of Democracy: A preliminary survey. The Question of Democracy; Direct or Representa¬tive? (eds.) Jega, A.M. and WakiH, H. Kano: Centre for Democratic Research and Training.

Oke, L. (2005). Globalization, democracy and women empowerment: Issues and challenges in Nigeria in Olufayo, Olu-Olu (ed.) (2005). Perspective on Globalization and Africa Development. Lagos. Bolabay Publications, p. 45.

The State of the World's Children (2007). UNICEF, New York, USA, pp. 54-55.

Independent National Electoral Commission 2007 available at www.inecnigerla.org Jindex. phd?do=- publication (Accessed Augustll, 2007), p. 5.

Oojede, I. (2009). Women: The neglected force in public administration. Being the text of the 41st inaugural lecture of Lagos State University (LASU) delivered by Profesor lyabo Olojcde Tuesday May 5,2009 at the MBA Auditorium in The Guardian, Thursday, June 18.


Weldon, S.L. (2002). Protest, Policy, and ihc Problem of Violence Against Women: A cross-national Comparison. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, p. 88.

Matland, R.E. (2005). "Enhancing Women's Political Participation: Legislative recruitment and electoral system", in: Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. A Revised Edition. Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, p. 96.

Mbatha, L. (2003). Democratising Local Government: Problems and Opportunities in Empowering the Disempowered: Women Political Participation and Democratic 73

the Adxancement of Gender Equality in South Africa Eds. Anne, M. G. and Shireen, H. No Shortcut to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy Making. London and New York: Zed Books, p. 196.

Social Sciences and Reproductive Health Research Network (SSRHRN) (2001). Gender Socialisation and Male Responsibility in the Family. Annals of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria, No. 13 January-December, p. 92.

Independent National Electoral Commission (2007) available at www.inecnigeria.org/ index.phd?do=publication (Accessed August 1,2007), p. 5.

Kousoulas D.G. (1982). On Government and Politics, A n Introduction to Political Science. 5th Edition. California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, p. 314.

National Policy on Women (2000). Abuja: Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development, pp. .7-8.


Ibrahim, A. (2006). National Gender Policy. Executive summary. Abuja Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, p. vii.

National Gender Policy (2006). Abuja: Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development, p. 17.


NEEDS Document, 2004, p.. viii.


Okolie, A.M. (2004) Political Behaviour. Enugu: Academic Publishing Company, p. 53.

Adeniyi, E.F. (2003) "Effects of Political Crises on Women:.Towards the Management and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts", in Mike, K. Wanashie (ed.), Politics and Political Power Relations in Nigeria, Lagos: Oat and Partners Logistics Ltd., p. 353.

Fieldwork (2011). Gubernatorial Election was not held in ten states of Kogi. Bayelsa, Adamawa. Cross River, and Sokoto where the Court of Appeal ruled favourably on the one year tenure extension for governors. Also, the Election did not take place in Anambra, Osun Edo, Ekiti and Ondo states due to the victory of the incubent governors at the Election Petition Tribunals.

Item of news monitored on the NTA Network News on Thursday 17/12/2011 by 9.00 pm

Jonathan, G.E. (2011). Address by his Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele, Jonathan on the occasion of the grand finale of PDF Presidential Campaign, on Saturday 26th March 2011 at Ahuja. The Nation. Lagos: Vintage Press Limited, p. 52.

Furtado, G. (1977). "Development", Inter¬national Social Science Journal. Vol XXXIV. No. 4, pp.. 635-638.

Mill, J.S. (1962). The Superiority of Democratic Government (ed.) Howard H. Hamilton. Political Institution. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., p. 35.

Ityavyar, D.A. (2007). "Gains of women activism in Nigeria 1960-2007." Paper presented at the National Conference on Women in Governance at the Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross Rivers, October.


  • There are currently no refbacks.