Susan Ironzi in Nigeria, reflects on the struggle for women to get into politics, and the importance to democracy, for them to succeed.
In Nigeria, women represent 49 percent of the population, yet they occupy less than 6 percent of parliamentary seats at the National level. These indicators negate International, regional and national benchmarks of at least 30 percent representation for affirmative action.
“With only 7 women out of the Nigerian 109 Senators and 14 out of the 360 members of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives; women in the Nigerian 8th Parliament are clearly outnumbered against their male counterparts. Nationwide that is, in both Federal and States Legislatures; there are less than 100 women out of the over one thousand four hundred men in parliament.”
Some have asked the relevance of the participation of women in governance and politics. In response, Experts have asserted that Women influence is of strategic importance not only for women empowerment, but because any perceived disadvantaged group, with adequate presentation, will have wider benefits and impact nationally.
Nigeria efforts post military era to ensure the participation of women in governance issues have been through the adoption and creation of institutions aimed to facilitate their full participation.
However, since 1999, no woman has been vice president of Nigeria; only two women have attempted to contest for the post of the president, Dr. Sarah Jibril under the People’s Democratic Party and recently Remi Sonaiya under KOWA Party.
In modern democracies, the supposition is that there cannot be political power without political participation, as democracy is achieved through a process of combined participation.
The Nation has ratified the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and adopted the 1985 Beijing Platform of Action and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The African Charter on People’s Rights, The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo protocol).
Though, so far, women still deal with gender stereotypes that usually discredit their character and face the likelihoods of being stigmatised as prostitutes. But, at both the national and international levels, there is growing academic interest in the level of participation of women in politics.