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IO. Women in Politics

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					         Women in Politics:
Cultural perspectives & their implications.

              BEING A PAPER PRESENTED BY INI ONUK,
         EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT &
         BUSINESS (WIMBIZ) AT THE WEST AFRICAN WOMEN’S
                   SOCIETY FOR PEACE & SECURITY.




                                                         © IniOnuk 2010
                                    INTRODUCTION
• Politics can be said to be the act of making public choice and
  making decision on behalf of people through the medium of
  the State and its apparatus.

• It is accepted that for development of any kind to be
  successful, women which make up a larger proportion of the
  population should not be left out because there is no doubt
  that both men and women have some potentials and rights to
  contribute meaningfully to the development of their
  countries throughout the world and Africa especially.



                                                           © IniOnuk 2010
                                                     HISTORY
• There is abundant historical evidence that African women
  have for long been playing a crucial role in political life of
  their countries.

• At both the national and international levels, there is a
  growing interest in the level of participation of women in
  politics. The ‘third wave’ of globalisation emphasizes the
  issues of democratization, women and human rights which
  dominate world interests in Africa.

• DO you want examples of women who have played key roles in African
  Politics?

• OR do we lose this slide totally?


                                                               © IniOnuk 2010
                        CASE STUDY - NIGERIA
• Despite the fact that women constitute about 49% of the
  total population, they are discriminated against in the political
  process. The marginalization of Nigerian women is more
  pronounced in the democratization processes. Women
  constitute more than two - thirds of the country’s 70% adult
  non-literate population while they hold less than 5% of the
  important decision making positions.

• The present national assembly in Nigeria has an appallingly
  low average of 0.05% of women in both houses.

• But the representation of women in the last republic (2003)
  elections, 3 women made it to 109-member Upper House,
  while 21 were elected in 360-member Lower House, 6 women
  were appointed Federal Ministers, with 3 Subordinate
  Ministers and 3 as Full Ministers.
                                                            © IniOnuk 2010
                          CASE STUDY - AFRICA
• Today in many countries of the world fair representation of
  women in politics and public offices have started taking place.

• For instance: Rwanda has 48.8% of women in
  parliament(highest in the world). Tanzania, 23.3%, South
  Africa has 29.8%.

• Africa’s first Female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has also
  emerged in Liberia.

• The recent election of female presidents in Africa, Latin
  America and Europe is being hailed by many as a seminal
  movement for the advancement of women in politics.

• The international communities has encouraged countries to
  keep at least 30% seats in National parliament reserved for
  Women.                                                 © IniOnuk 2010
                   CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES
•   Politics is perceived as dirty
•   African societies are still very patriachial
•   Limited perception on the political relevance of women
•   Lack of support from other women (and men too)
•   Lack of support from political parties




                                                             © IniOnuk 2010
                                     IMPLICATIONS
 Impact of money politics – the cost of engaging in electoral
  politics remains too high and leads to the exclusion of most
  women from the election processes. It is important to note
  that many women do not have access to their own funds, and
  they depend on their partners or relatives for raising money
  to participate in elections.

 Marginalization of women in political parties. For example,
  women are marginalized while being promoted to leadership
  positions within their parties, they never get nominated by a
  party. According to a study conducted by the International
  IDEA, political party leaders refuse to take female aspirants
  seriously and labelled them as cultural deviants.

                                                        © IniOnuk 2010
• Patriarchal attitudes – although not directly in immediate
  families all the time, but certainly among men in political
  parties.

• Lack of a substantive women’s movement and cohesiveness
  among women’s groups that claim supporting women’s
  political participation.

• Failure to enforce existing legal norms and international
  agreements. For instance, the domestication of CEDAW has
  failed in Nigeria and constitutional mandates have been
  ignored.


                                                           © IniOnuk 2010
• Lack of strong mandate and real power of the Ministry of
  Women Affairs.

• Lack of meaningful support from donors.

• This limited conception of the political relevance of women is
  responsible for their political marginalization. While it is
  important to increase the number of women in public offices,
  the more fundamental question raised is about the character
  of democracy: Is it gender sensitive?




                                                          © IniOnuk 2010
                                  REQUIREMENTS
• According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), figures
  show that women hold an average of just 17.5 percent of
  legislative seats in sub-Saharan Africa.

• Women would need 30 percent of legislative seats to have a
  real influence in parliaments.

• The challenge now is ensuring that women have equal
  opportunities to vote and to run for office.




                                                         © IniOnuk 2010
                                                 WAY FORWARD
•   Education and Training: There is an urgent need to expand the pool of women
    who are qualified for recruitment in political careers. One way to do this is to give
    women access, from an early age, to work patterns that are conducive to political
    leadership, such as special training in community-based organisations. Common
    understanding of the concerns of women, gendered political awareness raising,
    lobbying skills and networking are important for the process of training women for
    political careers. Women’s leadership schools play a special role. Special attention
    should be given to young women in political participation.

•   Political Party Support: Women play an important role in campaigning and
    mobilising support for their parties, yet they rarely occupy decision-making
    positions. The selection and nomination process within political parties is also
    biased against women in that “male characteristics’ are emphasised and often
    become the criteria in selecting candidates. An old boy’s club atmosphere and
    prejudices inhibit and prohibit politically inclined women from integrating
    themselves into their party’s work. Women are often put in a party list in order
    that they not be elected, if their party wins insufficient votes in an election.




                                                                                © IniOnuk 2010
• Cooperation with grassroots women organisations: Grassroots women
  organisations need to work with political and government institutions, to
  secure electoral changes to facilitate women’s nomination and election. In
  recently developed or partially developed democracies, there are limited
  contact and cooperation between women politicians and women’s
  organisations as they tend to keep their distance from women MP’s. They
  do not invest in organised channels of communications and lobbying on
  issues related to promoting women to decision making-levels. Experiences
  in established democracies reveal that women organisations do affect
  women representation in Parliament.

• Socio-economic Obstacles: In South Africa like in most developing
  democracies, poverty and unemployment are feminised. It goes without
  saying that the social and economic status of women in society has a
  direct influence on their participation in political institutions and elected
  bodies.

• The effect of development and culture on women representation:
  Development correlates with women’s representation levels.
  Development leads to a weakening of traditional values, decreased
  fertility rates, increased urbanisation, greater education and work force
  participation for women and attitudinal changes in perceptions regarding
  the appropriate role for women – these factors increase women’s political
  resources and decrease existing barriers to political activity.
                                                                        © IniOnuk 2010
• Development increases the number of women who are likely to have
  formal positions and experience. Culture is related to development and,
  as development increases, women’s standing in society relative to men
  becomes more equal. More women start to acquire the resources needed
  to become politically powerful – resources such as education, salaried
  labour force experience and training in the professions that dominate
  politics. This leads to the formation of a critical mass. When the number
  of women with the necessary resources becomes substantial, they then
  start to become an effective interest group demanding greater
  representation.

• The dual burden: Women also have to contend with the dual burden of
  domestic tasks and professional obligations. A traditional, strong
  patriarchal value system favours sexually segregated roles, and traditional
  cultural values militate against the advancement, progress and
  participation of women in any political process. The image of a women
  leader requires that she be asexual in her speech and manners. The more
  authoritative and “manly” a woman is, the more she corresponds to the
  undeclared male rules of the game.




                                                                     © IniOnuk 2010
• Eradicating the prevalent masculine model of political life and of elected
  governmental bodies: Political life is organised according to male norms
  and values, in some cases, even male lifestyles. For instance the political
  model is based on the idea of competition and confrontation, rather than
  on mutual respect, collaboration and consensus building. This
  environment is often alien to women. The result is that women reject
  politics altogether. The content and priorities of decision making is
  different for men and women. Women tend to give priority to societal
  concerns such as social security, national health care and children’s
  issues.

• The role of the mass media: In any society the media has two roles – to
  serve as chronicler of current events and as an informer of public opinion.
  Often the media tends to minimise coverage of events of interest to
  women. The media, including women publications, does not adequately
  inform the public about the rights and roles of women in society.
  Women’s job is to build a civilised society according to a paradigm that
  reflects their values, strengths and aspirations, thereby reinforcing their
  ability to be attracted to and to participate in political processes.




                                                                     © IniOnuk 2010
                                        CONCLUSION

• The limitations and obstacles to women attaining a political
  role, not only deny them their democratic rights, but also
  undermine democracy.

• Democracy does not mean political rights for males citizens
  only and it should not in any way be discriminatory in its
  application.

• The extent of women participation in political leadership of
  any society is the litmus test of the progress of democracy.


                                                          © IniOnuk 2010

				
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