This study examines a comparative analysis of women political participation in politics in Nigeria and USA. Party politics in a large number of cases, is the launching pad into political positions in most Democracies. Observations from past and present practices reveal that women participation in party politics in Nigeria and USA has been marginal, especially when marched against their numerical strength. The study engages both secondary sources, including textbooks, journals, online, library etc.
This finding revealed that: Gender inequality in political participation of well educated women groups challenge the initial belief that education by itself abolishes gender differences. Few women who ventured into politics in the First and Second Republics were intimidated by unwritten traditions which men foster while women acquiesce. The few women who were bold to enter into the political terrain were used for mass mobilization / campaigns and dumped after party victories. From the 1990s, a new dimension was added to the trivialization of women’s participation in party politics. Mama (1995) revealed that polygamous men now organize their wives from different ethnic origins to mobilize fellow women.
The study concluded that Women politicians must support themselves regardless of differences in political affiliations and efforts must be made by women associations to campaign intensively across the federation (rural and urban) to break the gender stereotypes of women’s public roles vis-à-vis men, also mass mobilization campaigns must be stepped up towards breaking traditional attitudes and stereotypes of women’s public roles and inequality with men in decision-making.
This study recommends; The creation of an enabling environment to enhance women’s participation in politics. Improvement in the constitutional law framework to incorporate the needs of women in politics. The need to intensify campaigns to promote women’s representation in political platforms. Women should be economically empowered through access to education, employment and credit facilities. There should be equality in the sharing of political offices on the basis of quota system between competing candidates. The federal should make it mandatory that certain public offices be allotted to women on equal basis. Money politics should be discouraged in Nigeria and USA while women who want to take active part in politics be encouraged to do so without any fear or favour. There should be structures put in place such as the legal funds.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the years, women have been downgraded to the background in the issues of development especially in the developing nations like Nigeria. This has been having a result of the sentimental attachment on the feminine gender. Historical evidences have also proven that women have been long playing a crucial role in the political developments of the nation. For development of any kind to be successful, a vantage position should be accorded to women as they constitute a larger proportion of the population. In this regard, they should not be left out in the issues of decision making that also involves decisions their lives as people.
Today, women have been more active in political issues more than before and this is as a result of political awareness but they are plagued with challenges of which discrimination is the more rampant. Majority of the men developed prejudiced against the female are pensive with the notion that decision making is exclusively for the men while women are to be told or instructed what to do.
Despite the difficulties faced by women in politics, they have continued with their political ambitions, contributing largely to the political and national development in their own little way, although Nigeria is yet to have a female president. Women over the years have been recorded to have met their political objectives and also made appreciable political achievement in the political field with limited support and resources, (Gonyok, 2013)
In 1957, during the pre-independence era of Nigeria, a couple of women political activist such as Mrs. Margaret, Ekpo, Mrs. Janet Mokelu and Ms. Young were members of the Eastern house of assembly. The late Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, although was not a full –fledged politician, was also a very strong force to reckon in the politics of the western region and also, Hajia Gambo Sawaba waged a fierce battle for the political and cultural liberation of women in the North. It can be said that women have always played viable politically roles in Nigeria despite all limitations and hindrances. (Gonyok, 2013)
The Babangida era had marked a turning point in the history of women struggle in Nigeria. In 1987, Maryam Babangida institutionalized the office of the first lady. She became the first working first lady and launched the “Better Life for Rural Women” program. Other women who have also made a great impact in the country’s political development include, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala former minister of finance, who saved the nation billions of dollars as a result of her hard working nature as a public officer. Mrs., Obi Ezekwesili also laid a land mark in the history of Nigeria politics. Prof. Dora Akinyili, the NAFDAC boss has also performed credibly; as she leads the fight against contaminated pharmaceutical drugs and her name can never be forgotten in the archives of history. There are also myriads of women in politics even presently that have done very well and are still performing very well in the political development of the country.
Liberia’s head of state Ellen Johnson has made history as Africa’s first female president. In the United States, Hillary Clinton also made a positive impact as she took a bold positive step to contest for presidential position. (Gonyok, 2013). Presently, Croatia cannot be left out has they have a female president and also Ethiopia currently has a woman as their head of state. this could as a strong factor women have in the political parlance of any nation.
The United States lags behind most established democracies with respect to women’s political representation. When it comes to this domain, many countries have made a rapid progress but the United States have not kept this pace when it comes to women’s representation in national legislatures. United Nations as at 1997 ranked 47 in upholding women’s political representation but have deeply dropped in position as at 2017, as they ranked 101 (Saskia 2018). Women currently hold 19.3 percent of seats in the House of Representatives and 21.0 percent in the Senate and these percentages have barely increased over the years. At this rate and current progress, women may likely not achieve full legislative parity in the U.S. Congress in year to come. (BRECHENMACHER, 2018)
Today, many countries of the world are working towards with great efforts towers bridging the gap between men and women in politics. But in Nigeria the representation of women in government even though has improved than before is still very low compared to what obtains in other nations of the world particularly in the developed nations.
There is still no doubt that women have some potential and rights to contribute meaningfully to the development of their country. It must be realized that role of women as home makers cannot be down played in that it equally has an extended impact on their responsibly in service, the women touch anywhere cannot be matched. (Gonyok, 2013)
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to Hillary Clinton, “we still have a long way to go and the United States must remain an ambiguous and unequivocal voice in support of women’s right in every country, every region, on every continent.
Over the years, despite all the effort by government and non-governmental agencies both locally and internationally and such efforts are incorporated in International Instruments, Covenants and interventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Right, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc. on the need for gender equality on women political participation and representation, there is still no encouraging participation of women in politics compared to their male counterpart. Apart from ordinary voting exercise, women are given not given equal chance as men to contend for political positions in any level of government. As such, men are preferred in sensitive offices and positions, while women are considered weak, fearful and incompetent and by this, women cannot attain equal status with men
They have been regarded as second class citizens as a result of the belief that the “Other room” which was interpreted as “the kitchen” is where they belong, a statement made by the president of Nigeria in his speech; bringing into question their role in politics. This has brought a never-ending discrimination against women in politics and a continuing dominance of men over women, making women invisible in the political system.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
With the origin of the problem recognized as poor representation of women in politics, with particular reference to USA and Nigeria, this work is an attempt to assess and suggest ways of overcoming this problem. The specific objectives are:
i) To determine the level of women involvement in politics Nigeria and USA
ii) To examine the factors inhibiting women political participation in Nigeria and USA
iii) To analyze the challenges inhibiting women participation in politics in Nigeria and USA
iv) To determine the efforts taken by Nigeria and USA government to encourage women participation in politics.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1) What is the level of women involvement in politics in Nigeria and USA?
2) What are the factors inhibiting women political participation in Nigeria and USA?
3) What are the challenges inhibiting women participation in politics in Nigeria and USA?
4) What efforts have been taken by Nigeria and USA government to encourage women participation in politics?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Women’s participation in politics had been seen as critical for both economic and national development. It is through women participation in politics can all forms of discrimination against women be eradicated. The significance of this study is divided into two: empirical and theoretic significance.
One of the empirical significance will be, creating awareness on the importance and necessities for full and equal participation of women in politics. Various states would become aware of this importance and therefore, work towards promoting and implementing the various constitutional rights that has been promulgated for women.
Secondly, the study would bring enlightenment on the various reasons for political education, liberation and empowerment programs. It will highlight the various constraints to women participation in politics and the effects of such constraints on women.
On the other hand, the theoretical significance of this study is that it would serve as a relevant literature on means of improving women’s political participation
Finally, this study would also be of great help to the society in general, as it would help them understand, appreciate and motivate them to work towards restoring the dignity and potentials of womanhood, which would also enhance equal gender right in decision making.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
As a standard to achieving the objectives of this research, USA and Nigeria would be placed as a Center of study. The study will cover the period of 2010 to 2018, to compare the level of women involvement in politics in USA and Nigeria. It is apparent women has a low level of participation in both countries and this has brought about political, social and cultural discrimination against women. This paper will therefore focus on comparison between USA and Nigeria and would cover, the statistics of women currently in power in both countries and also low participation of women in politics in both countries can be improved on;
The methodology of this research would be broadly qualitative. Data will be generated from both secondary and tertiary source. Secondary sources which includes journals, articles, reports, newspapers, official publications and books and tertiary sources would include the use of Goggle for research.
1.8 LIMITATION TO THE STUDY
Commencing and concluding a research is not always as easy as it looks. Of course, there are many limitations influencing against a good study. Some of the major limitations include
Time limit is one of the greatest constraint that would affect this study as I have limited time to carry out this research. Also, the fact that it is being conducted during school days is also a limitation to this study as it overlaps with lectures and also preparation of exam.
There would also be a limitation to what I am able to cover during the less time I have, as I might not be able to cover everything necessary to be covered and therefore, leading to limitation in knowledge.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Woman: An adult human female
Woman politician: A woman who has ever vied for a political position or served as a member of the parliament. It can also be referred to as an aspiring member of a country’s parliament or assembly representative.
Political Participation: the action of taking part in something. This is a state of taking active part and involvement in political affairs.
Gender: gender is the different and unequal perceptions, views, roles and relevance which a society assigns to men and women through its culture.
Politics: this is the authoritative allocation of value in the society. It encompasses the making of decisions regarding what society do, when they do it, how they do it and it should be done that way. An activity associated with the governance of a country or area especially the debate between parties having power.
Political apathy: this is a state of not being interested in political affairs.
Political behavior: this is the positive attitude one has towards politics or political matters.
Political culture: this is the pattern of individual and orientation towards politics.
Power: power is the ability to compel an individual or a group of persons to obedience in disregard to their opinions.