How patriarchal power structures undermine women’s empowerment and gender equality: the case of Nigeria
Ozgiir Tiifekgi and Mohammed Hashiru
Though it is common knowledge, Nigeiia is highly characterised by patriarchy from time immemorial (Aina, 1998). Despite deliberate attempts by governments and NGOs, patriarchy appears to dominate all spheres of the Nigerian economy and politics, thereby only entrenching patriarchy in the state. Generally, the highest populated African state continues to define the roles and responsibilities of men and women as manual and domestic, respectively.
The nature of patriarchy in traditional Nigerian society not only paves the way for men to dominate women but also impedes the activities of women in formal and informal decision making, which further weakens women’s empowerment in the country. Evidently, women in the largest economy of Africa are not key players in political nor economic circles. It is a worrying phenomenon, especially now that women in leading economies have exhibited a significant level of ability in shaping political and economic discourses. A country which is a hub of African commerce continues to struggle to bring a significant number of women in the same round table with their male counterparts for decision making despite the constitutional provision of equal rights and privileges among male and female citizens. Patriarchy prevails amidst gross violations of women’s rights through domestic violence, female genital mutilation, among others. Politically, women have been relegated to political offices at the lower level, with an insignificant number of them occupying those spots.
Unlike previously written papers and articles on the subject matter, analytical examination in this chapter will be in the context of feminist theoiy of discrimination and constructivist theoiy of identity. Employing an interdisciplinary approach of secondary' data analysis and literature review, this chapter is divided into three subsections with objectives of examining gender equality in Nigeria, assessing women’s empowerment attempts, progress and hindrances while juxtaposing them with the role of patriarchy in undermining them.
240 Ozgilr Ti fekqi and Mohammed Hashiru 2 Theoretical framework
A theoretical appreciation of feminist theories with regards to discrimination against women will help to throw more light on the topic discussion. These theories take both economic and political shapes. In the realm of economics, feminists consider gender more than the study of women’s status, which is at the heart of analysis. Radical and institutional analyses explain that discrimination theory' of feminists accepts that labour markets structure and other social and economic institutions inspire individual economic actors. Postmodern and socialist feminists have pushed for the recognition of power culture and ideology gender composition in addition to the systematic elements and material oppression of women which is frequently integrated into patriarchy theories. Gender theory emphasises the process by which social and economic institutions are shaped by gender (Figart, 2005: 513). According to Bergmaim (1987: 145), feminist economists have a self- imposed task to produce the design for a future which is more equitable. Figart (2005: 513) defines discrimination as not a dummy variable. He mentions that labour market discrimination is a multidimensional economic, political, social and cultural forces interaction in both the family and workplace which results in differential outcomes involving status, employment and pay. In general temis, gender discrimination refers to a situation of unfavourable attitude, behaviour and treatment apportioned to either males or females as motivated by tradition and culture of a group of people. It explains the pattern of behaviour which is apparent in the belief and opinion of people regarding what the political, social, cultural, economic and religious mode of relations between women and men (Onwutuebe, 2019: 2).
Among the universal theories of discrimination among women in public spheres is the one developed by Sanday. She explains that women’s contribution to earning a living remains a major factor which determines their status. In performing its three functions - earning a leaving, protecting itself and reproducing - men exhausted their energy into earning a living and defending in the human community. This allowed them to have greater control over strategic resources. The overdependence of women on men to a larger extent resulted in male domination (Sanday, 1974: 190). In a nutshell, division of female and male activity is a major determinant of discrimination against women. This leads to the occupation of a lower position by women in both social life and in the labour market. Related to this universal theory is Sacks’ developed feminist socialist theory, which proves that handicapping women did not emanate from a private property' because it is not all men that have such. Instead, employment given to men allowed them to work more often than women for privileged classes. A vast difference between public life and household life limited the duties of women to the household, and as women got excluded from social production, automatically their status waned as compared to men (Sacks, 1974: 208). Another theory is the patriarchy-capitalism theory' which tries to bring together capital system analysis of Marks and Engels and patriarchy feminist analysis. With the aim of presenting class and gender divisions as a goal owing to the charges of destroying the unity of working-class movement and diverting attention from the conflict of the main class, patriarchy-capitalism theory explains the handicap of women in the capitalist system via the inconveniencing of women with housekeeping and gender professional segregation. Women’s production is therefore reduced by housework as lower salaries due to professional segregation increases the dependence of women on their husbands. This creates a vicious circle that makes it impossible for women to earn a higher salary and ultimately justifies such a division of household duties (Acker, 1988: 62).
A constructive framework, on the other hand, paves the way for a theoretical conceptualisation of the struggle of activism. The struggle of feminists situates power in social strucmres and pursues to fight this power. Against other universal theories of discrimination, this one emphasises that women are not necessarily powerless and can be made powerful through struggle. Pmgl (1996: 16) maintains that constructivism views go with global governance. While realism emphasises on the international system structure and liberalism on actor agencies, constructivism involves both structure and agency. Under the impact of globalisation, sovereignty transformation has paved the way for women in the political space to nun into visible participants in the subjects of law and international relations (Sassen, 1998: 81). Sassen further argues that the critique of feminists’ sovereignty must be developed because globalisation creates loopholes for nonstate actors and subjects to participate. Women and other nonstate actors can access more representation in international law and as well contribute to its making in the circumstance where the sovereign state is no longer seen as the special representative of its population in the international arena. For instance, the Optional Protocol to CEDAW which allows complaints to be made with the UN against countries that refuse to protect the human rights of women. The Protocol makes it possible for a group or individual women to submit their violation complaints on CEDAW to the committee (Kardam, 2004: 103).
3 Gender equality in Nigeria
Despite several strides made in the fight against gender inequality, in many regions in the world today men and women do not always enjoy equal opportunities and conditions in education, economic, legal, institutional fields, social and human development (Bulut and Yildiiim, 2020). One of these regions in the world is sub-Saharan Africa. Although many states have made significant progress in economics and politics, disparities of income continue within and between states as poverty becomes generally more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than in other African regions. 2015 Global Monitoring Repoil according to the Education For All (EFA), not less than 41 % of the sub-Saharan population is languishing in abj ect poverty on less than 1 USD per day. Besides poverty, inequalities can be seen more obviously in comparison to other developing regions (UNESCO). Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa with the largest population, is situated in this region.
In Nigeria, according to the World Poverty Clock, about 96 million of the total population, which is 48%, are living in extreme poverty, among which about 47 million are women (www.worldpoverty.io). Aisha Juminal Alhassan (former Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development of Nigeria) writes that Nigerian women specifically and African women at large have long been appealing for equality. Several efforts by the public have not been enough to alleviate the predominant difficulties they have faced throughout the years. They continue to be inadequately acknowledged for their inputs towards the country’s national, social and economic development. The destitute status of rural women and the dominance of gender stereotypes limit access of women to power and decisionmaking, resources, oppoxtunities and rights fulfilment. Though the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is the government body responsible for bringing together strategies for addressing gender inequalities in Nigeria, in order to achieve gender transfonnation that will hasten sustainable development, it is crucial to address the fundamental dynamics that obstruct the progress towards equality (FAO and ECOWAS, 2018: VII). Suffyan Koroma, the FAO representative in Nigeria, adds that the Federal Republic of Nigeiia has been trying towards further branching out of its economy amidst the prominence of oil in the country’s economic wealth. Agriculture continues to contribute meaningfixlly to the economy of Nigeiia, and its growth is important for general economic progress. The agiicultural division still delivers employment to over 70% of the population. This contiibutes to not less than 30% of the state’s GDR With a population of almost 200 million, agricultural development and food security are crucial for both sustainable development and national development. There is no doubt about the key role women play in agriculture and food and nutrition security, from the farm to the kitchen where many of them end up. They make up an essential part of the agricultural labour force and their impact is cubical to the success of the Economic Recovery' and Growth Plan (ERGP) in Nigeria. Significant gender inequalities still exist in the sector of agii-food despite affirmative action. The split between the limited availability of sex-disaggregated data and policy and implementation to supervise progress towards gender equality have challenged the efforts towards the empowerment of women in the sector (FAO and ECOWAS, 2018: IX). This is a clear indication that the economic situation could improve when the gap between men and women is closed through women’s empowerment especially in this peiiod when one of the economic agendas of the nation is to concentrate on strengthening its non-oil economic sector.
A March 2019 article available on the Council for Foreign Relation’s (CFR) website cites the new digital report of Women and Foreign Programs under the theme Economies Through Gender Parity that if women had significant participation in the economy equal to that of men, Nigeria’s GDP could grow by $229 billion or 23% by the year 2025. In the same vain the axticle adds that the IMF equally projects that strengthening gender equality in Nigeiia could change the economic narratives of the country and could result in higher productivity and more significant economic stability (Bro and McCaslin, 2019).
Politically, women and men in Nigeria have equal lights to participate in all political procedures and portfolios. Despite Nigerian women’s active participation in the membership of political parties, women are mostly supporters for men to attain political spots. Party hierarchies are controlled by men and hence give them the advantage in influencing the internal politics of parties. Makama (2013: 116) writes that though women represent about half of the population of Nigeria, they barely occupy 10% of political positions. Meanwhile, chapter II of the 1999 Constitution addresses the Directive Principles and Fundamental Objectives of State Policy. Section 17(1) has it that the social order of the state is established on the principles of freedom, justice and equality. Section 17(2) also records that in the continuance of the social order: (a) before the law, every citizen shall have equal rights, obligations and opportunities; and (b) the sanctity of the human being shall be acknowledged, and human dignity shall be upheld and improved (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999). Section 17 implies that there should be no inequality of any kind. This means all citizens, regardless of their gender, must be treated equally. Clearly it connotes that male citizens should not dominate their female counterparts in any sector of the country.
The Gender Inequality Index (GEI) ratio of women’s participation has a mean score of 17.8, with women in parliament having a mean score of 3.0, compared with men, giving the country' a ranking of 30th in Africa. At just 5.9%, Nigerian women have one of the worst levels of representation in national legislatures, which comprises 469 members (Figure 13.1). Women at the ministerial level have a mean score of 34.9, while women judges have a mean score of 15.4 in GEI ratings. Women’s household rights have a mean score of 58.8; women’s legal rights have a mean score of 40.6 (GEI), out of 52 African country ratings (FAO and ECOWAS, 2018: 10)
Figure 13.2 captures the proportion of seats held by women from 2000 to 2019. In both figures, 2007 and 2009 were the peak of female parliamentary representation while the latest, i.e. 2019, is not something good to write home about for female political representation. This defeats the collective efforts being made to ensure a significant increase of female representation in Nigeria and calls for rather drastic measures that will expedite the processes of bringing more women to the
Figure 13.1 Trends in Seats by Women in Nigeria’s National Parliament (%) Source: FAO and ECOWAS (2018: 11)
244 Ozgilr Tiifekqi and Mohammed Hashiru
Figure 13.2 Proportion of Seats Held by Women in National Parliaments (%) - Nigeria Source: World Bank, https://data.woridbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS?locations=NG
political arena. Nigetia is not isolated in this. Other sub-Saharan African states that have the same setback narrative are Ghana and Kenya, for instance. Ghana has a similar political and historical background of Nigeria. During the pre-colonial and colonial periods, Ghanaian women have contributed massively to the progress of the country (Adjepong, 2015: 26). However, there are a few women in parliament despite the fact that the Ghanaian Constitution just like that of Nigeria, recognises equal political rights.
Additionally, the country is a signatory to several international instruments that uphold the political rights of women. Out of the 200 parliamentary seats in 1995 women only occupied 16 of them and in the 2004 national election, 25 out of 230 seats (Sossou, 2011: 1). Similarly, Kenya shares a political history and cultural background with Nigeria. Despite their involvement in mobilisation for independence, women in Kenya did not have equal political participation after independence. The movement of women, however, adopted an agenda for 30-35% female representation in parliament and political appointments (Nzonro, 1997: 233-245). This resulted in then improved participation in politics. Although gender parity has yet to be achieved, the increased number of women in politics has brought about a fundamental change in the promotion of women’s rights itr Kenya.
4 Efforts to ensure women’s empowerment in Nigeria
The situation in other African countries like South Africa, Senegal, Namibia and Rwanda is different; there many women have been elected to parliament. While in South Africa, women make up around 42% of members of parliament, 62 women were elected into the Nigerian parliament in the recent elections, representing less than 5% of elected officials, which coimotes a decline from the 2015-19 peiiods where about 6% of elected officials were women.
Statistically, the 2019 election witnessed 235 women, which formed 12.34% of total candidates, contesting for a seat in the Senate out of which seven (6.42%) were elected. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Part)' (PDP) which are the two main political parties, contested with seven and ten candidates respectively. Five hundred and thirty-three women contested for the House of Representatives, with APC and PDP fielding a total of 31 candidates. Only 11, however, have been elected, representing 3.05%. This is a severe setback, because previously 22 female lawmakers made it to the house. This means almost half have lost their seats. At the national stage, no woman governor was elected. Women formed 3.07% of the total candidates. Four women in Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun and Rivers states were elected out of the 275 women, making 11.40% of candidates for the deputy governorship. Despite that, the number of female deputy governors recorded a drop from six in 2015-19 to four (CDD, 2019). One of the first steps adopted by the Nigerian state to ensure women’s empowerment is to ensure their protection. The most robust protection is to have states law’s protection. It is against this background that besides the constitution, other national legislation has provisions that protect the lights of women in Nigeria. The Criminal Code and Penal Code, the Marriage Act, the Violence against Women Prohibition Act and Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, among others, also add to the laws that ensure women’s protection (Eniola, 2018: 5).
To further entrench these laws, individual states, based on their resolve to empower women through protection, have made criminal female genital mutilation, and prescribed penalties for violators of the law; amongst them are Female Circumcision and Genital Mutilation Prohibition Law (Edo State in 1999); Girl Child Marriages and Female Circumcision (Prohibition Law) (Cross River State in 2000); Abolition of Female Circumcision Law (Rivers State in 2001); Female Circumcision and Genital Mutilation (Prohibition) Law (Ogun State in 2000); and Gender-Based Violence (Prohibition) Law (Ekiti State in 2001). Other laws, such as Protection of Widows and Widowers Fundamental Rights Law (Enugu State in 2001), Widow’s Empowerment Law (Oyo State in 2002) and Malpractices against Widows and Widowers Prohibition Laws (Anambra State 2004) among others, have been adopted to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of widows. To ciub the negative impacts of cultural practices on the realisation of women’s rights, some states also have laws like the Prohibition of Early Marriage Law in Kebbi State, Retention in School and against the withdrawal of Girls from School Law in Kano State; and Violence against Women Law in Lagos State among others. Checks on Imo, Anambra, Ekiti, Plateau and Kogi states reveal that they are ahead of the federal government in enacting Gender and Equal Opportunities Law. One of the objectives is to provide equal opportunities for all, irrespective of gender, and to prohibit gender-based discrimination (Eniola, 2018). It is essential to state that places where these laws have been passed become serene environments for ensuring equal rights in all spheres, including the political one among men and women.
Besides the provisions in the constitution that support and advocate for political paxticipation of women, Nigeria is a signatory to a number of international instruments that cater to gender inequality. Article 7 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) mentions that state paxties shall take all appropxiate actions to eradicate discrimination against women in the sphere of politics and public life of the state and shall particularly guarantee to women equal rights with men. Oixe entity pushing the agenda of gender equality through women’s empowerment is the UN Women in Nigeria. They work on policies and programs together with a variety of allies to concentrate on foxxr key result areas that have the prospect of transforming the gender equality landscape of the country. These include expansion of the voice of women, leadership and involvement, economic empowerment of women, prevention of violence against women and girls aixd the expansion of access to service, increasing leadership in the peace of women, and the response of security and humanitarian. This body supports the amendment of laws of discrimination, policy regulation, systems and practices at national and local levels aixd the expansion and execution of a gender policy within Nigeria’s security forces in order to boost the protection of women and girls against sexual and gender-related violence. It also takes part in a DGD- financed governance program designed to cement and increase participation of women in democratic governance through enhancing their political and public awareness as well as political responsibility on gender equality and human lights of women (africa.unwomen.org).
Additionally, besides the international and regional treaties that promote political representation of women, some international conventions support gender equality in political participation. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPA) addressed numerous aspects of women’s lives related to the achievement of their human rights. The BDPA has it that states should take measures to safeguard equal access of women to and total involvement in power stinctures and making of the decision and must increase the capacity of women to make them participate in decision making and leadership. Nigeiia also has some policy frameworks in place to ensure gender parity in political participation.
Nigerian women still suffer many kinds of discrimination in both the private and public spheres in spite of these robust legal frameworks. Some reasons are accounting for this continuous discrimination against women; one of them is the patriarchal power structure.
5 The patriarchal power structure in Nigeria
Generally, a social system in which the role of a male as the piincipal authority is central is called a patriarchy. In this system, men have power over women, children and other possessions. Patriarchy, as a male mle and privilege institution, depends on female subordination. Traditionally patriarchy reveals itself in political, legal, social and econonxic institutions of different cultures. In a nutshell, it explains male supremacy in which the power is in the hands of men at the vulnerability of women. Nipokoski (2020) relates “power” to privilege. Therefore, a system that empowers men more than women only ensures men wield some privileges women are not entitled to. As cited and argued in our previous work (Hashiru and Tufekci, 2019), when President Buhari publicly pronounced that his wife belongs to his kitchen and his living room and the other room (BBC, 2016) because she publicly criticised his government, a lot could be understood about the patriarchal structures and background that informed such pronouncement of a president who could have lauded his wife’s actions not only to promote women’s empowerment but to pave the way for the democratic consolidation of the state in the long run.
Nigeria personifies a typical patriarchal African society where a system of social stratification and gender discrepancy equips men to control and dominate women in all circles of life. The hegemony of patriarchy as Connell (2005: 830) referred to in his own words “hegemonic masculinity” has a massive influence on social hierarchy and the activities of women, especially in the south of the globe. Patriarchy Power Structure (PPS) in this study means structures which make patriarchy conducive or helps male counterparts wield more power in every aspect of human life in a given society. Our research done from a pool of available literature on the subject matter informed our categorisation of the PPS into three main parts. These include religion, tradition and culture and the political atmosphere. We do not seek to blame these institutions for being the sole agents of discrimination against women as the situation is not same everywhere, rather, we maintain that patriarchy continues to use them to perpetrate more discrimination against women. The PPS established by the patriarchy uses these same institutions as references for fighting actions, programs, modules and outreach works designed to empower women.
According to Johnson (2014: 17) people take paxt daily in institutions, such as education, politics, science, art and the economy, which are founded on the roots of patriarchy. This also involves faith-based establishments that are responsible for how women are perceived and valued. It further touches all scopes of human lives, such as communities, families and legal structures. It is applicable to the church as well. The nature of the church structures is filled mostly by men, who tolerated, gave support to and supervised the suppression of women (Wood, 2019). This caused the denial of their frill potential in the spheres of the church, economy, politics and society. Although Johnson and Wood did not mention other religions, the same can be said about other religious structures in Africa. Essien and Ukpong (2012: 289), in their case study of the Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, find that both Anglican and Lutheran churches in the country continue to clutch strictly to the patriarchal structure of denying privileges to women of the ministerial priesthood, thus boosting the patriarchal structure. They take a clue and follow the leads of the powerful clergies’ interpretation of the biblical texts like that of John Paul II who stressed that Jesus’ liberally picking and establishing the apostles as priests meant that Jesus’ marginalised women from the Twelve demonstrated their unsuitability for the piiesthood. In order words, men are the sole custodians of leadership positions in the Church. Although the aforementioned Orthodox Churches promote patriarchal structures, Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) refrain from barricading women from administrative positions. In general, patriarchy is not tolerated in these denominations.
Similarly, the Evangelical Fellowship of West Africa (ECWA) provides equal opportunity for male and female congregants. They observed that the practices of Christian churches are not identical. However, the practice of patriarchy and gender inequality is similar to a demon in churches with historical solidity and advanced theology and ecclesiastical discipline. Meanwhile, they maintain that there is an impressive attempt to recognise in ecclesiastical life and ministry the fundamental and ontological equality of every human person in the communities and movements of recent history, but this has not transformed into a formation of a new culture of equality in Nigeiia owing to entrenched religious prejudice against women.
Christian Aid (2015) quantitative research reveals that women lament that church activities were time-consuming, and do not leave them with adequate time to attend to domestic issues. Additionally, young Christian men in Enugu of Nigeria are not ready for preaching based on gender equality, a reason why religious leaders preach gender equality with caution using scripture and emphasising obedience of women even in gender equality discourses. For instance, a male pastor in Lagos mentioned that gender equality could not be preached in rural churches because it would coimote trying to make men become weak and not in control. Views from the church compounds with the traditional views that gender equality would be a problem that could result in separation of couples. Apparently, many churchgoers who are against equity in the community had their patriarchal orientation from the society because they were unable to provide scriptural support for their claims.
In the realm of Islam, the arrival of Islam had a double influence on the status of women in Nigeria (Bawa, 2017: 153). Firstly, Islam fortified the already existing patriarchal nature of the society by cementing supremacy of men and emphasising submission of women. Secondly, Islam invigorated and paved more of a way for education and literacy for women. Many groups have used various sets of strategies to halt this patriarchal and misinterpretation of Islam to justify the subordination of women. The movement of Muslim women is an ordinaiy outcome of the situation they have been forced to deal with. Feminists have always pointed at this much-debated statement of the Quran, which is often translated as “Men are maintainers and protectors of women” (2: 228) as central in discussions about patriarchy and Islam. The mistake of patriarchy is its imposition of sexism, and whereas aggressive sexism may infer that women are incompetent of maintaining themselves and consequently need a male guardian for their protection, generous sexism frequently advocates that women are given a high position and therefore must be valued and attended to by men (Davary, 2013). It is in comiection with these second explanations of the verse that women are thought of like the honour of the man. From the very beginnings of its spread to various parts of the world,
Islam gave in to cultural adaptations and concurrent development with a multiplicity of cultures. There are however states that use Islam to justify and institutionalise patriarchy, particularly when the ancient customs of the land approve of it. Despite that, they have not been able to mute the voices of women who contest patriarchal subjugation in both the family unit and state. Formulation of the Sharia in a context of patriarchy has given it a patriarchal colour; Islam is, however, a message of unity and justice that promotes neither gender duality nor justifies its hierarchy (Davary, 2013).
5.2 Tradition and culture
The Nigerian society, both recent and premodem has been stained significantly with odd cultural practices that are effectively hostile to women’s emancipation of women (Nmadu, 2000: 166). These include early and forced marriages, inheriting of a deceased person’s wife and precarious widowhood practices. Bhavani and colleagues (2003) opine that in order to rescue women from poverty and empower them such uneven social and gender relations need to be changed. Gender stereotyping is established within the family unit, as long as self-identity of daughters as females are with their mother and sisters, and sons as males are with their father and brothers (Haraway, 1991). The dominant religious narratives in both colonial and colonial aftermath Nigerian society certainly privileges men at the disadvantage of women, even in accessibility of education, as discussed earlier. Nigerian society remains entangled in the analogy of history (Mamdani, 1996). The socio-cultural dependency of women is one of the critical harmful factors to their political participation in the public political sphere. Women also find it difficult to paxticipate in politics because of the limited time available to them owing to their dual roles in the productive and reproductive spheres. With their primary roles as mothers and wives and competing for domestic responsibilities and care work, they are left with little time to participate in politics. This means that cultural factors have a ripple effect on their political participation in the sense that domestic responsibilities become a barrier for women’s political participation. Women in Nigeria are confronted with cultural constraints on their mobility. The instruments of sex discrimination and purdah are used to limit their mobility (Makama, 2013: 133). Politics necessitates the exposure ofwomen to interact with male and female constituents and address a public meeting.
It is established that the traditional Akwa Ibom society like other societies in Nigeria is dominated by the thinking that women are subordinates of men. Even in matters of birth, male children are mostly prefened to female children, and it is deeply entrenched in the culture of many states. Men are not merely considered as the head of the family but also go ahead to assume headship in traditional structures in the villages and the clans. Out of about 2,000 villages in Akwa Ibom State, no village proudly appoints a woman as a head and even thinking of such looks like a taboo to the people. Because a woman is perceived as part of a man’s property, a man is at liberty to many as many women as he can afford; a woman meanwhile barely keeps a friend (mostly make friends) apart from her husband.
So, to be married, whether as a second or third or fourth or fifth wife is something acceptable (Udoidem, 2006: 95). Able men are expected to bear the cost of marriage alone as that allows men to flex their muscles. The average cost for getting a wife is approximately 1 million nairas (app. 2800 USD) for people who have low income. The cost of marriage almost appears irrelevant until one understands its PPS influence. These high costs of marriage further keep women in the constant suppression of men. This often breeds domestic violence as the men mistakenly consider the woman as their properties. To a large extent, verily gender has been a minor issue in traditional Nigerian societies (Essien and Ukpong, 2012: 287). The traditional social structures which are PPS inclined have been contributing little motivations for the amendment of the existing power distribution between men and women.
Men in Nigeria generally believe women are unwilling to take up leadership positions because of cultural or traditional beliefs. Some others believe that the place of a woman is in the kitchen and women must seek the permission of their husbands in order to aspire to leadership positions. It is also believed, particularly by male respondents, that women are weak and fragile, and would not be able to make good leaders. However female respondents believe men or the society would not give them the necessary support and boosters if they aspire to leadership positions despite the fact that they aim to be more involved in leadership (www. clnistianaid.ie).
The nature of Nigerian politics has been described as a ground meant for the hard and strong (Akinola, 2009), and candidates cannot sponsor their elections themselves without recourse to “godfather” alternatives (Soyinka, 2004). This godfather complex involves a patron to client or servant to master relationship which is hardly free of violence. This exclusively happens in the area of disagreements, where a candidate fails to comply with prior agreed negotiations and contracts. This godfather politics hardly favours women. No women can withstand the resultant consequence of not yielding to the demands of godfathers as was witnessed in Oyo and Anambra states some years ago. Of course, this godfather complex caimot favour women as it involves the adoption of big affluent men who could find reasons to use these women as sex objects or abuse them sexually instead of investing in them to build on the already existing but struggling women’s empowerment outreach in the country. Obviously the godfather complex is mostly yet another PPS established and funded by the patriarchy to further create a haven for the continuous undermining of the women’s empowerment struggle, making democratic consolidations efforts minimal.
Elections in Nigeria have been branded violent with several electoral irregularities and various criminal happenings. Nevertheless, the continuous campaign for women to be actively involved in the democratic process has produced little results compared to the increasing number of women in other domain-seeking essential positions. The broader democratic framework and level of democratisation also impact the political participation of women. In Europe and in some developing countries, secular democracies have created relatively more space for participation of women in politics as compared to states where religious orthodoxy shapes democracy and politics. Adherence to discriminatory gender ascriptions persisted after the end of colonial rule in Nigeria (Makama, 2013: 133). This means that religious orthodoxy is a threat to female empowerment through political participation. This claim is supported by the preceding discussion and findings captured in the culture and religion subheading. The replacement post-independence political leaders made a deliberate effort to weaken women’s organisations previously involved in an active campaign for emancipation through enhancing the militarisation of the polity and growing the statist of the economy (Ake, 1996). Gender blindness has meant that the variance influence of colonialism on African men and women has not been given attention until lately (Mama, 1997).
Domination of males in politics, political parties and culture of formal political structures is another factor that hinders the political participation of women. Male- dominated political parties often have a male perspective on matters of national significance that let down women, as then viewpoints are often overlooked and not reflected in the politics of their parties. Women are also frequently not voted for at the position of power within structures of the party because of gender biases of male headship. Just like mentioned in the culture and tradition subheading the society does not condone women keeping late at night though most political conferences and meeting often happen in the mid-nights, particularly in times when one is keenly involved and wants to seek a political post. Women who are mothers with children and a husband at home do not usually find it easy. Makama (2013: 132) further finds it significant to comment that most successful women in politics are those with helpful husbands, those who have turned into husbands, those lacking husbands, those who are done with childbearing, and those who are associated with the military, for example, daughters of past leaders and politicians. Some exampes of these people are Akunyili (helpful husband) Iyabo Obasanjo (a divorced and daughter of the former president), Condoleezza Rice (single), Sara Jubril (widow), and Hillary Clinton (a former flagbearer and wife of a former president).
Going through the literature of PPS it is evident that this famous African adage - until the story of hunting is written by the animals too, the hunter would continue to be glorified by hunting tales - summarises the panacea. It means that until women who have not given in to a patriarchal psyche become exegete of religious verdicts, texts, societal norms and culture male exegetes shall continue to build on the PPS of the society in the name of God. This goes to reply the famous patriarchal argument that women do not need to lead in order to feel or be empowered when in essence the body of patriarchy, which shapes the power structure in the society, can do so owing to the leadership advantages their own structure continues to provide. Both Islam and Christianity, which are the leading religions in Nigeria, have been used by the PPS to further bring women under the control of men through the repetition of verses and their exegesis by the patriarchal exegetes who determine the meaning what God and His prophets’ decree for the society. Though these religions were alien to the lands of Nigeria, the culture and tradition of the land before the advent of Christianity and Islam seem to be mostly encouraging and supporting PPS even though women were actively instrumental in those times. It is these collective shapes, influenced by the religion, culture and tradition, that translate into the patriarchal political nature of the state. As evident is the poor performance of women in the most recent general elections held in 2019. The government of President Buhari appointed very few women in his government in the wake of several women among the least who contested but lost elections. Not only are women poorly represented in the highest political portfolios, but the same is the case in the local and national paxty positions. The violent elections in some areas that barricade many females who want to vie for political positions are largely perpetrated by men and have resulted in some women perceiving politics to be “dirty” and meant for only the masculine gender. The largely occupied masculine in the game of politics has also discouraged women who are nurturing political ambitions, and even if they do, they go in for less competitive positions where they end up not inspiring the massive representation of women because they are least represented in the party decision-making body. One of the effective solutions to this problem is, first and foremost, to identify and accept the problem itself. When people (women) toil to ensure that they get equity in every sphere of life, they show lackadaisical attitudes towards established policies to salvage them since the PPS is so deeply rooted in the society. The kind of epistemological orientation of these women is the one influenced by the PPS. Breaking away from the PPS epistemology would require a form of rigorous education of women on the need to survive a world without the PPS.
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