Bowling alone: how political parties marginalise women in post-military Nigeria
Babatunde Oseni (Lead City University)
Paper short abstract:
Women participation in politics has its ups and downs. In post-military Nigeria, there are more downs than ups for female political office seekers and holders. Party primaries in particular promote female exclusion rather than inclusion.
Paper long abstract:
Nigeria, Africa's most populous democracy, has had two decades of uninterrupted civilian rule. Since 1999, in particular, party politics has favoured male participation than it has the female involvement. Although the country's constitution gives equal political and socio-economic rights to both genders (as stipulated in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution), a reality check on party primaries- a precursor to actual electoral contests- shows an assymetry in political opportunities for men and women. Unlike in Rwanda, for instance, only few females get elected into the state and national parliaments in Nigeria. Yo be sute, the exclusion of women in party politics cuts across almost all the registered political parties. It is found that there is an intersectionality of forces and factors such as culture, economy, religion, and 'raw' nature of politics itself, inhibiting integration of women in mainstream political sysytem. Some questions are raised and examined: Are men 'my-ownising' power in the context of male domination? Is it systemic or rather agential that more men participate in politics than women? To what extent, and to what end, will women cease to 'bowl alone' in the Nigerian political system? This paper argues that unless parties' constitutions purposely assign specific quota to women, a free-for-all contestation approach in parties would continue to favour men proportionally and exclude women disproportionately in electoral competition and political participation. Keywords: Gender Politics, Political Participation, Human/Woman Rights, Democracy
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