Gender Equality And Political Participation, An Assessment Of Ait Influence On Women Political Awareness And Participation In Enugu State

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    1.       Background of the Study

Women are underrepresented in most levels of government, as a result have made little progress in attaining political power in legislative bodies, or stamping equal relevance alongside their male counterparts in different political spheres in Nigeria. Consequentially, they have not achieved the decades old target of attaining relevance politically as set by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution in 1990. Equal Opportunities Commission (2003) in reference to United Nation (1995), recommended targets for increasing the proportion of women in Leadership positions to 30% by 1995 and 50% by 2000. Historical evidences in many societies, both during the ancient and modern periods support the idea of male dominance over their female folks in many spheres of human endeavours (Aweofeso and Odeyemi, 2014). The trail of the female gender humiliation, manipulation and marginalization through a number of culturally biased practices has culminated into systematic institutionalization of male superiority over female in all sphere of life-socio-culturally, economically and politically. From the assertion above, it is evident that men play lead role in the political sphereAina (2012); Soetan (2014);Agbalajobi (2010).In 2015 the Deputy Director Gender Division of  the Nigeria’s electoral body Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stated that fourteen (14) females out of three hundred and sixty lawmakers were elected into the House of Representatives and eight (8) women won as Senators in total of one hundred an nine senators. Again, out of the out of the fourteen (14) candidates that contested for the presidential position in 2015 general election, the only woman who contested found herself in the 12th position (Akor, 2015).

The struggle of women dates back to several decades ago when women like Amina of Zaria, Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Olufumilayo Ransom Kute of Abeokuta, Margaret Ekpo and Hajji of Gabon Swabia among others who fought to bring pride to women in Nigeria’s history show that good number of women have their interest in contributing to the general development of this country Okafor (2010). According to Ayabam (2013), several factors, including funding, women perception of politics in Nigeria, political violence during election, lack of self-confidence on the part of women, women marginalization in party leadership, illiteracy and low educational status for the girl child, cultural and religious discrimination have been identified as reasons for poor participation in social-political activities.

Munir S, et al (2014), media and politics go hand in hand as both depend on each other for their respective functioning. This accession explains the significance of media for political gains. Media is a potent tool for women political participation; they can set agenda and make voice of women to be heard through programs like Gender Agenda on AIT and so on. Gender Agenda, is women empowerment/political talk show on Africa Independent Television (AIT) seeks to address issues of state, Nationhood, Transformation, rule of law and psycho-social perspective of the role of women in governance and policy making. Gender and Youth Development is also another programme on AIT to champion the course of women. It is a female parliamentary programme which attracts participants from across the thirty six states of the federation aimed at attaining the affirmative action in favour of women. Focusing on Enugu state, this study sets out to examine how the media can be used to access and accelerate women participation in political programs and activities in Nigeria; as the media has been proven to be one of the vital factors through which gender equality in politics can be pursued (Nwankwo, 1996).

1.2       Statement of the Problem

It is no longer news that the percentage of women participation in politics in Nigeria is low. This poor participation reflected in the 2015 general elections in were only eight out of one hundred and nine senators are women, and out of three hundred and sixty members of National House of Representatives, only fifteen are women. Also, only five out of thirty seven ministerial appointments are women under the current federal government administration.

Since 1999, no woman has successfully contested for the presidency or served as vice president, no woman has successfully contested for a gubernatorial office and won, and currently, out of the thirty six states, only six states produced female deputy governors and two female chief judges.

The African belief system that relegates women to stereotype less significant roles has been a militating factor against women’s political awareness and participation in Nigeria. The misconception that women are soft, emotionally driven and intellectually inferior to their male counterparts could be a reason for the downward trend in female participation and attitudes towards politics, regardless of efforts made by gender equality advocates, agencies and media programs. Hence, this research sets out to examine the inputs of AIT’s gender equality advocacy programs towards women and its influence on women participation to Nigerian politics.

    1.  Objective of the Study

The objective of this study is to examine the influence of media on women political participation in Nigeria. To achieve this, the following objectives were drawn.

  1. To ascertain if women in Enugu state are exposed to political program on AIT
  2. To find out the level of acceptance of political program on AIT
  3. To ascertain the degree of their participation after exposure to political program on AIT
    1.  Research Questions

In the course of this study, the following questions would be answered.

  1. How exposed are women in Enugu to political program on AIT?
  2. What is the acceptance level of women in Enugu state to political program on AIT?
  3. What is the participation level of women in Enugu after exposure to political program on AIT?
    1.  Significance of the Study

This study will help policy makers design program that would engage women in political participation in Nigeria. It would also contribute to existing literature in this field. To this end, this research work upon completion will aid researchers, scholars and students of mass communication that may be interested in this area of study. It will give a better understanding to the influence of political programs on AIT.

    1. Scope of the Study

This study focuses on women political participation and how political programs on AIT expose them to do so. Women with certain level of literacy are the ones in mind, reason being that to watch political program on television, some level of literacy is required.

This research was carried out in Enugu state metropolis. This consists of Enugu East, Enugu North and Enugu South local government areas. This researcher chose this area because the AIT program understudy is televised therefore requires an urban audience. This is not to say that there is no reach for rural dwellers but the tendency for urban viewers’ is high because television is mostly an urban medium.

    1. Operational Definition of Terms

In this study, certain key words will be explained into conceptual and operational definitions.

  1. Political Participation: the art of taking part in selection of those who run the affairs of the country through voting electioneering campaign, rallies etc. it can also be seen as those activities voluntary  through which an individual or public express their political views and their influence on the political process.
  2. Influence: this is an ability to change the character, development, behavior of someone or something. It’s the power to make people to agree with your opinions or do what you want.
  3. Women: any female being from the age of eighteen up wards who us eligible to vote and be voted for.
  4. AIT: African Independent Television Enugu Zone located 6th Floor, 36 ZikAvenue Uwani, Enugu Nigeria.

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Gender Equality And Political Participation, An Assessment Of Ait Influence On Women Political Awareness And Participation In Enugu State