Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Bias and Citizenship Rights to Political Participation in Nigeria: Challenges for Democratic Consolidation and Economic Development

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Bias and Citizenship Rights to Political Participation in Nigeria: Challenges for Democratic Consolidation and Economic Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity". The Nigerian Constitution (1999) affirms this. However, in Nigeria, women do not enjoy equal rights and priviledges as men (Sow, 1994, cited in Isma'il, 2006). This has resulted into policies and programmes failing to address the feminine dimension of poverty. Women's impoverished condition has generated serious global concern especially following the Beijing Conference of 1995. The aim of this paper therefore is to examine the issue of gender equity and citizenship rights to political participation and the challenges for democratic consolidation and economic development. The methodological approach used in writing this paper is content analysis. The paper observes that gender bias in any society creates serious constraint to democratic consolidation, and hence derails rapid economic growth and development. The need to urgently address the factors creating these challenges, like moral, social, economic, ethnocentric and religious, etc, issues through the adoption of the principle of proportional and rotational representation of both genders by all political parties has become highly imperative, in addition to abhorring the culture of masculine dominated policies and programmes.

Introduction

According to the International Bill of Rights, "rights" have been classified into the following: Civil, political, economic, social and cultural. These rights are supposed to be both integrative and complementary in nature (Isma'il, 2006). Consequently, a citizen's right to political participation is very fundamental because it denotes his/her empowerment for the establishment of democratic consolidation as well as economic development. As far as a democratic State is concerned, it is saddled with the responsibility of providing and protecting the rights of every citizens irrespective of gender from being breached.

Thus, "rights" seen as "claim" or "entitlements" may imply three issues:

* Rights usually come with obligations whereby the claim of one's rights places an obligation on another to provide it.

* The justification of one's claims to exercise the rights (legal, customary or moral).

* Rights are basically social (Isma'il, 2006).

Also, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article One provides that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity". However, in intellectual discourses of gender issues, the right of women, their position in the home front as well as the society have always ignited hot and emotionally debated issues. Indeed, it is a common knowledge that women do not enjoy the same rights and priviledges, autonomy and power as men, especially given the history of Nigeria's democracy (Sow, 1994, cited in Isma'il, 2006: 111). Consequently, their political participation and decisions affecting their conditions of existence are regarded as non-existent naturally. Hence, the need for their urgent inclusion in the affairs of governance and decision making process on equal level cannot be overemphasized.

The objective of this paper is thus a clarion call for gender equity and citizenship rights to participate in Nigeria's politics towards ensuring democratic consolidation, hence rapid economic growth and development. In the light of this, the paper is divided in five (5) sections including this brief introduction a section one (1). Section two (2) examines women's poverty as a factor militating against their political participation in Nigeria, while section three (3) highlights a brief overview of women's citizenship right and political participation in Nigeria over the years. In section four (4), we examine the issue of gender bias and its challenges for democratic consolidation and economic development. The final section concludes the paper with some recommendations .

Women's Poverty as a Factor Militating against their Active Political Participation in Nigeria

Over the years, the issue of poverty has been hotly debated as a multi- dimensional concept that exerts different pressure on both women and men respectively. …

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