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Chapter one


1.1 Background for the Study

Women’s desire to fully engage in Nigerian governance may be traced back to the pre-colonial era, when women’s contributions to the anti-colonial movement were apparent and pronounced in their opposition to the colonial administration’s severe tax policy.

According to Akinyode-Afolabi (2006:1), despite women’s key responsibilities before and after independence, socio-cultural prejudices and weak laws have continually harmed women’s rights, particularly political rights. However, the challenge of women’s political engagement in Nigeria has grown in importance since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The increasing vigour and zeal of women and their supporters in advocating for a meaningful participatory role for women in the current democratic framework may be traced back to the many international norms and institutions created to advance women’s causes.

This aim is based on the fact that women in Nigeria account for nearly half of the population and hence deserve a fair share of decision-making and governance in the country.

Add to this the generally held notion that all humans are equal and that women have the same right to participate in governance and public life as men (Oluajo, 2003).

For the record, women have been badly marginalised and underrepresented in government throughout Nigeria’s political history, including earlier attempts at democratic control.

Women have never had more than 3% representation in national government, although making up almost half of the population and 51% of voters in elections. Women have been virtually absent from national administration under military governments (Nwankwo, 2006:19; 1996:7).

Although the Nigerian government is beginning to recognise the need of gender mainstreaming in national planning, affirmative action as a means of reducing the gap in sectoral development remains a difficult topic (Agina-Ude, 2003: 22).

For example, some opponents of Affirmative Action in politics and public life challenge the foundation for 30% minimum representation and advocate for higher or lower goals.

They stated that special measures such as affirmative action, in addition to being a kind of patronage, will lead to a reduction in standards and even the abandonment of merit in favour of the subjective issue of gender equity.

Even among its supporters, there is a preference for the reservation of appointive positions over elective offices, reflecting the belief that certain types of affirmative action are unfair, unjust, and even discriminatory, particularly in light of the principle of equality before the law.

Those who support the use of affirmative action to address gender inequities in human development, notably in politics and public decision-making, are aware of the range of viewpoints. Instead, they feel that these arguments unintentionally promoted the establishment and expansion of the concept of affirmative action (ibid: 23).

Article 4 of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), which requires states parties to implement the appropriate remedial measures, defines affirmative policies as temporary and devoid of “separate standards”.

It is worth noting, however, that the objections against gender-based affirmative action continue to diminish in light of the results it has achieved, making it the best alternative thus far for obtaining any major increase in female participation in government.

For example, it is now clear that man (as in the male gender) has occasionally perpetrated unbelievable acts of injustice against the female gender in the name of representative governance,

and that women must be involved in the process that determines their well-being, welfare, and the direction and content of their entire lives. Momodu (2006:37) comments on the same problem, saying;

Politics is very important for people, especially women in

Especially to be left entirely to males, who can hardly

recognise women’s problems and strive to

Participate in decision-making.

In a closer examination of gender-related issues, particularly women’s political participation in Nigeria, it is necessary to ask whether adequate scholarly attention has been paid to the issue in terms of the successes or failures of affirmative action in redressing the perceived gender imbalance in public decision-making structures.

The necessity for research in this field is especially significant considering that gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s representation in governance appear to be prominent themes in worldwide treaties, covenants, and declarations.

They are increasingly recognised as accelerators for people-centered development strategies and good governance that provide men and women equal voice in decision-making and policy implementation, as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other global and regional targets.

To that aim, the purpose of this research is to examine the role of affirmative action in closing the gender gap and inequities in Osun state government during Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s administration.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Gender equality has become a global concern. It is regarded as a necessary condition for ensuring sustainable human growth, particularly in the public realm. Affirmative action is an endeavour to address the issue of gender imbalance caused by decades of discrimination against women.

In this light, it is obviously pertinent and vital to study the affirmative action principle, as there is still a great deal of confusion and disagreement around its application.

Many nations that have implemented the principle have found it to be an extremely beneficial instrument for levelling the playing field for female involvement in both the election process and democratic government (WARDC Report, 2003).

Though several newspapers have reported on the gross under-representation of women in Nigeria’s political scene, which is widely regarded as speculative, the purpose of this study is to localise affirmative action in Osun state in order to determine gender disparities in both elective and appointive offices during the Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration, 2003–2010.

1.3 Research Questions.

i. What goals has the Osun State Gender Action Policy aimed to achieve since its inception?

ii. What level of awareness do key decision-makers have about gender issues?

iii. Is there a gap in national progress due to women’s exclusion from political participation?

iv. What are the gender-specific issues originating from political contest?

1.8 Objectives of the Study

The study’s particular aims are:

i. Examine the Gender Action Plan of Osun State from 2003 to 2010.

ii. Identify the amount of awareness among key decision makers concerning gender-related issues;

iii. Investigate gender-specific issues originating from political contest.

1.9 Research hypotheses

i. The nature of Osun’s gender action policy tends to impede its implementation.

Affirmative action.

ii. Women’s representation in the governance of Osun state could be determined by

The level of gender-related awareness among important decision-makers.

iii. Gender equality in the governance of Osun state demands a change in mindsets.

Beliefs and cultural customs.

1.10 Theoretical Framework.

The study’s analytical tools included a blend of historical approaches and feminist paradigms. These methodologies were integrated and used to describe the research challenge.

For example, the historical model enables the inspection and interpretation of current reality or recurring political phenomena using the dialectics or antecedents of the past. It connects current and historical political issues in a way that provides insights and understanding into the complicated subject of politics.

Varma (2004) defines the historical approach to politics as attempting to explain political events via the use of historical facts. This framework of analysis is especially relevant to the research problem

because the nature of women’s representation in politics cannot be reasonably assessed unless it is placed within the larger context of women’s ongoing struggles and aspirations for greater representation in public decision-making.

Feminism, on the other hand, is the belief in gender equality in society, the economy, and politics. Although feminism originated mostly in the West, it is now exhibited worldwide and represented by a variety of institutions dedicated to advancing women’s rights and interests. Feminism is a well-established philosophy with core ideas and a variety of variations that take somewhat different routes. Feminism

is also a transnational movement that transcends class, national, racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries, despite the fact that those boundaries indicate major inequalities.

Feminists agree on the necessity to replace what they regard as a male-dominated system, or patriarchy, that impacts all social institutions. Clearly, feminism concentrates on women’s positions in society and the roles they perform, but feminists claim that improving women’s status benefits all humans, regardless of gender.

For example, feminism is creating a critical apparatus for analysing contemporary society that challenges all current beliefs. Feminist and political philosophers are suggesting new ways to perceive the world.

Feminists encourage everyone to imagine a society free of sexism, racism, sexual orientation discrimination, and all other forms of oppression.

According to Cole et al. (2007), women were limited to the domestic realm for the majority of Western history, whereas men were allowed to participate in public life.

Furthermore, women had little or no access to school and were excluded from many occupations. In some regions of the world, such limitations on women still exist today.

As previously stated, there are numerous variants of feminism, including radical feminism, Marxist or socialist feminism, and liberal feminism, but attention is focused on transformational feminism because of its main arguments and objective, which appear to be particularly pertinent to the subject of this study.

Transformative feminists have demonstrated how men have established a male-centered worldview that greatly hinders our ability to conceptualise non-hierarchical and patriarchal human relationships.

These feminists want to break down the mental, political, economic, and cultural barriers that prevent all people from becoming completely human.

For example, Hartsock (1983:224-225) observed that feminists have reimagined the concept of power. Power as dominance gives way to power as “energy and competence.” She believes that all of our ways of thinking must experience a similar transition.

As a result, transformative feminists advocate for major changes to not only our political and economic lives, but also our social, cultural, and personal lives. As Megan (2007) contends:

The alternative value core of transformative feminisms is

All of their variation is holistic, egalitarian, and life-centered.

Rejection of hegemonic androcentric, dualistic, hierarchical,

Profit-based philosophy and social systems.

The purpose of transformational feminism is to attain equality while acknowledging difference or specificity between the two genders, which approximates the fundamental idea of this research endeavour.

1.11 Research Methodology.

This study included both primary and secondary data. The target population is the whole population of Osun State. The primary data were gathered through structured interviews and questionnaires distributed to a representative sample of the target population.

The sample was drawn from six (6) local governments, two (2) from each of the state’s three (3) senatorial districts, using a random sampling method. Osogbo, Ife Central, Ilesa East, Odo Otin, Ede South, and Irewole are the selected local governments.

A total of nine hundred (900) questionnaires were distributed, 150 for each of the selected local governments. Respondents in these local governments were chosen specifically for their knowledge and/or involvement in the study’s subject area.

Thus, respondents reflected those with specialised and important information, such as the political class, both serving and retired civil servants, academics, and other relevant government personnel.

Secondary data were gathered from books, journals, internet-based resources, and other published and unpublished materials relevant to the study. Finally, the obtained data were analysed using the descriptive technique and content analysis.

1.8 Scope of the Study

This study looks at how affirmative action is being implemented in Osun state under the Olagunsoye Oyinlola administration. It looks on the specific issues of gender inequality and underrepresentation of women in both elective and appointive offices from 2003 to 2010.

1.9 Significance of the Study

This study is significant primarily because it seeks to advance our understanding of the underlying challenges and solutions involved in gender development and women’s rights emancipation.

It will also contribute to providing the necessary platform for comprehending the potential and challenges associated in closing the gender gap in public decision-making roles.

It is intended that the outcome of this research, which attempts to propose ideas for bridging the gap of gender disparities, women’s disempowerment, and under-representation in governance, will be valuable to Nigerian policymakers and others concerned about women’s political engagement.

1.10 Expected contribution to knowledge.

The return of the country to democratic governance in May 1999 marked the end of men’s all-pervasive grip over the political terrain. A dominance that should not exist, given the nearly equal proportions of the two genders in the population.

This study focuses on the specific challenges of gender equality and women’s representation in Osun State governance. It is especially significant because it exposes the obstacles and opportunities associated with gender development,

notably the desire for enhanced female participation in governance and, by extension, national planning and development, using a situational analysis approach.

1.11 – Definition of Terms

It has been stated that it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide a generally acceptable definition to several concepts, theories, and models that span the social sciences (Yagboyaju, 2008:26). Nonetheless, the following will be defined in terms of their importance and utility to this investigation.

Gender Mainstreaming

This has to do with incorporating the women’s issue into the country’s development plan to ensure that women’s political and economic rights are appropriately protected.

The goal is to incorporate gender perspectives into all parts of Nigerian planning policy, legislation development, and transformation operations (Nzomo, 1994:203; Nwankwo, 1996:1). It addresses the systematic disparities between men and women in our society while recognising their essential distinctions.

Women Representation

This highlights women’s significant representation and participation in high-level public decision-making positions (Lawal and Ojo, 2008:331). It is now widely acknowledged that women are a valuable national resource,

whose ideas, creative solutions, and worries about the coherence of the social fabric can assist improve the quality of life and society as whole.

However, participation in public decision-making roles is required (Nzomo, 1994:203). In this study, the term of women’s representation refers to the prominent involvement of women in public decision-making positions.

Gender Equality and Inequality

Gender equality in this study, like gender parity, refers to the equality or sameness of all humans, regardless of gender. It refers to the fact of having equal rights, status, and privileges.

It is an ideology that emphasises treating all people equally, regardless of gender. On the other side, gender inequality refers to prejudices that portray men and women as unequal.

According to Lawal and Ojo (2008:335), gender disparities in politics are primarily due to gender stereotypes and attitudes towards women. Gender stereotypes refer to thoughts and perceptions about persons based mostly on their gender group membership.

These clichés tend to depict men and women as being on opposite ends of bipolar adjectives, with males having desirable attributes and women having bad ones.

According to Ogwu (1996:35-42), such category-based thinking tends to highlight similarities among women, so minimising their individuality, as well as exaggerate differences between men and women.

This precludes many societies from viewing women as capable decision-makers or equal participants in public government (Udegbe, 1997: 31).

Affirmative Action.

This is viewed as a unique measure taken to address racial or gender inequities in the society. Affirmative Action, which is sometimes confused with discrimination, is typically a measure meant to supplement non-discrimination; it is a broad word that encompasses a variety of policies aimed at assisting vulnerable groups in society (Agina-Ude, 2006:23).

These policies include information dissemination, awareness-raising, faith-based attempts to recruit and mobilise women for greater participation in public governance, and other purposeful actions to combat discrimination.

According to Ojo (2001: 27), such a policy approach provides for laws that aim to better the position of marginalised groups and increase equitable opportunity for individuals.

In this study, gender-based affirmative action is preferred, which includes measures such as quotas to ensure that women hold important positions in public governance.

This measure strives to increase women’s representation, particularly because it tackles women’s underrepresentation given that women make up half of the population in most countries (WARDC Report, 2003: 17).

It is a principle that describes strategies to address the imbalance caused by centuries of discrimination against women. It aims to accelerate gender equality while also serving as a temporary catch-up measure, which can be achieved through voluntary compliance or by municipal legislation.

Gender imbalance

This addresses the position of women in society, particularly in public decision-making roles. Women have historically been underrepresented in politics and other aspects of public life.

According to Nwankwo (2006:18), the number of women in high-level decision-making positions does not reflect their population strength. It highlights the unequal representation of the two genders in the decision-making process.

Women Empowerment

Women’s empowerment, as defined in this study, refers to enhancing women’s access to fully participate in decision-making processes, particularly those that directly affect them. Empowerment can take numerous forms, including economic, financial, and political empowerment.

However, the fundamental issue at hand is removing hurdles and other stumbling blocks from women’s paths in their drive to be effective players in the grand scheme of things, just like males. Women’s empowerment refers especially to enhancing opportunities and access for women so that they can realise their God-given potentials and take their proper place in society.

1.12 Organisation of the Study

The study is organised into five chapters. Chapter one is an introduction that includes the problem statement, research questions, study objectives, research hypotheses, and research methods.

This chapter also includes the study’s significance, scope, theoretical framework, expected contribution to knowledge, definitions of main words, and chapter synopses.

Chapter two provides a survey of important literature on the topic of gender equality and women’s representation in Nigeria. It also conducts a historical analysis of women’s political participation in Nigeria, from pre-colonial times to the 2003 electoral battle.

The third chapter examines women’s political engagement in the context of affirmative action, utilising Osun state’s gender action plan from 2003 to 2010.

Chapter four presents and discusses the study’s findings, while Chapter five, the conclusion, contains a summary and recommendations of the study, including options for increasing women’s representation in public government.

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