Political participation is at the heart of Democracy. The more people participate the more legitimate a democratic government is. Though political participation is found to be liberal and unrestrictive, research has shown that women who constitute more than half of the Nigeria’s national population continue to suffer marginalization and discrimination. Empirical findings have revealed that women political participation in Ogun State remains at a dismal level as it recorded less than 10% women representation in the state’s parliament in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. The aim of the study, therefore, was to find out the specific factors responsible for the low level of political participation of women in Ogun State. The study generated both primary and secondary data. 200 questionnaires were administered among women in Ogun State. The study discovered that measure directed towards redressing the low political participation of women in the state will only be superficial unless the factors that limit women’s political empowerment are addressed.
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.
This paper is divided into seven sections. Section one is the introduction while section two explains the methodology of the study. Section three is the conceptual analysis. Section four on the other hand, examines women’s participation in Nigeria’s politics particularly, Ogun State. Section five discusses the factors responsible for low women’s political participation as revealed by this study. In section six, this paper draws policy recommendations for improving women’s political participation while section seven concludes this paper.
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