The issue of discrimination and marginalization are common feature shared by women in most parts of the world more especially the third world countries. However, Nigeria women have not been left out in this struggle for women’s right, which has gained a little momentum during the past two decades. Nigeria politics is predominately politics of men, men dominates the political arena, men formulate the rules of the political game and men define the standards for evaluation. Political life is based on male norms and values and in some cases even male lifestyle. Women are marginal to national and states politics, and more generally, to the public and private life of our nation. Women are not considered as equal partners in the homes to be allowed to make, share decisions with their male counterparts in the family. This gender discrimination has been extended to public life where women experience marginalization even in the electoral process according to Mcclosky, political participation implies “those voluntary activities by which members of a society share in the selections of rulers and directly or indirectly in the foundation of public policy” political participation, in this liberal tradition, reflects a condition which entails the voluntary involvement of the citizens in the choice of their leaders and in the policy formulation and implementation process of their society. This affords the people a sense of belonging and a say in how they are governed.
Therefore, the concept of political participation either in the liberal or Marxian tradition, frowns at any attempt, whether wittingly or unwittingly to exclude any segment of the society on the basis of sex, religion or any other socio-economic variables. Nigerian women have been involved in Nigerian politics mainly as voters, after which they retire to their kitchens with insignificant number of them appointed or elected into offices.
Notwithstanding, the drive to promote women in decision making position worldwide gathered momentum during the 1980’s and early 1990’s through a series of international conferences. The climax of it all was at the fourth women’s conference held in Beijing, china in 1995, which called for at least 30 percent representations by women in national governments. In September 2000, world leaders again at the UN millennium summit in New York adopted the goal of gender equity. As a result of this development the number of women in leadership position has been on the rise. Corroborating this, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, stressed that when women participate in development and in the political sector, the benefits are immediate. Families are healthier, batter fed and better off financially. And what is true of families is also true of communities and in the long run, of whole countries. The international organizations have picked up this challenge in the struggle for liberation of women, the Nigeria government and non- government organization (NGOs) have been involved in this struggle. They have been involved in organizing conventions, seminars, and several paper presentation and summits. Some of the conventions, according to Wollstonecraft M. (1985) include;
The women’s right convention at Worcester (1980) with; Paullina W.D. of Rhode island as the vice president, Hannah M.D. and Joseph C.H. of Pennsylvania and new York respectively as the secretary.
This convention had its aims to consider rights, duties and relations of women and secondly to know the rights of the governor to the governed and the right of the governed to choose their governor. The resolutions of the convention were:
- Resolved that the law of property be reversed so that all right may be equal between them so that the women will have equal rights on the property acquired by both and can still acts as his hire.
- Resolved that political right acknowledge no sex, therefore the word male should be stricken, from every constitution.
- They resolved that those whose property is taxed for the support of government is entitled to direct share in such government. Resolved that women are clearly entitled to the right of suffrage before the law without discrimination of sex or colour.
Therefore, this research enquiring (obstacle to women participation in Nigerian politics) will evaluate and examine the role and place of women in Nigeria, despite all the convention held. However, what is hindering active full participation of women in politics? This question will be subjected to some theories and hypothesis in subsequent part of the research.