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PROJECT TOPIC: WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS IN THE GOVERNMENT OF AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION

Background to the StudyEvery human being has the right to participate in decisions that define his or her life. This right is the foundation of the ideal of equal participation in governance among women and men. This right argues that since women know their situation best, they should participate equally with men to have their perspective effectively incorporated at all levels of governance, from the private to the public spheres of their lives, from the local to the global. Globally, women have been deprived of their right of participation in the decision making of the state.The United Nations (UN) Women’s Conference in Beijing (1995:7) Report emphasized that women have the right to participate in decision-making of government. This is for reasons of equity, democracy and legitimacy, the empowerment of women and that the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of transparent, accountable government and sustainable development in all areas of life.In addition, Miranda (2005), in (Beijing Platform for Action, excerpt from Mission Statement) says “equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, sustainable development and peace”. As the United States Agency for International Development (USAID2010:10) has observed “no society can develop successfully without both increasing and transforming opportunities and resources for women and men, girls, and boys so that they have equal power to shape their own lives and contribute to their communities”. Ogbaji (2010:1) corroborates this position when he states that “women all over the world suffer from and are faced with many, peculiar and complex problems. Many of these problems revolve around their rights within their different societies…exacerbated by the existence of several discriminatory practices against them”. Antrobus (1991) as cited in Ogbaji(2010:2), explains that “all women’s unremunerated household work is exploited, we all have conflicts in our multiple roles… we struggle for survival and dignity, and we share our exclusion from decision-making at all levels”.As the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) Human Development (1995) Reports, “in no society do women enjoy the same opportunities as men…it is worthy of note that women shoulder the primary responsibilities for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill these responsibilities” Similarly, the United Nations and the World Bank, (United Nation’s Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) as cited in (UNIFEM 1999: 12) argue that “the absence of women’s participation in decision-making fails to account for the specific needs and aspirations of women, consequently further entrenching the feminization of poverty and continuing male dominance in nominal positions of authority”.According to the editorial comment of Women’s Rights Monitor (1995:5) as cited in Ogbaji(2010:5):“the rights privileges, and opportunities governed by customary laws and statutes are largely inaccessible to women in real terms. It is pertinent to note that the struggle for the rights of women is a positive one which recognizes the quality of women’s contribution in every aspect of the community. In pre-colonial Nigeria, many women gained socio-political and economic prominence either through achievement or as reward as they become more involed in trade. Opportunity existed for women to take leadership roles in politics, religion, social and economic life”.


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