Background to the Study
The increasing agitations for gender equality have raised intense academic discourse on poor participation of women in politics all over the world (Peterson & Ruyan, 1999: 48 & Akinboye, 2004:233). Women’s low political participation is a universal phenomenon (Waylen, 1996:11; Akinboye, op.cit:233; Lewu, 2005:62 & Rai, 2005). However the imperative of women participation in democratic governance cannot be over emphasized (Amadiume, 1997:81; Bruce, 2004:113; Babatunde, 2003; Bari, 2005). Sustainable democracy relies upon the equality and complementary participation of a men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society through political processes (Sodaro, 2001:247, Anifowose, 2004:205; Akiyode-Afolabi & Arogundade, 2003). However, despite widespread democratization in most countries, women record poor participation in politics and decision making process across the world (Waylen, op.cit:10; Pokam, 2006; Henderson, 2006; Pascaud-Becane, 1999; Babatunde, op.cit; Anifowose, op.cit:204 & Bari, op.cit).
In Nigeria, although women constitute 48.78% of the national population, the average representation of women in national politics has hardly ever been more than 3% (Ajayi, 2007:138; IPU, 2007; Nigeria CEDAW NGO Coalition Shadow Report, 2008). The challenge of women’s participation in Nigeria’s politics became worrisome following the country’s return to democracy in 1999. With the transfer of power from the military regime to a civilian democratic administration, one had expected a substantial improvement in women’s political participation in the country. On the contrary, the percentage increase in women’s political participation were 2%, 4% and 6% and women representation in the national parliament, 6.3%, 8.8% and 7.3% in 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections respectively (Okocha, 2007; Akioyede-Afolabi et’ al, 2003; The Nigeria CEDAW NGO Coalition Shadow Report, op.cit:3 & Adu, 2008:27). It is obvious therefore, that the perception that democracy would automatically boost women’s political involvement in Nigeria has not been validated after nine years of its return to civilian rule. The aim of this paper is therefore, to interrogate the determining factors of women’s political participation in Ogun State between 1999 and 2007 and to seek ways on how to engender a balance in the political affairs of the state.