Working with women’s groups in Nigeria is a challenging process on many fronts. While women the world over continue to fight against gender oppression and discrimination while they struggle for recognition of their human rights and for spaces to occupy politically, socially and economically, Nigerian women do this in a context of marginalization caused by traditional institutions and cultural practices, gender parity, and recently the fear of insurgency that has led to migration from certain areas among others.
Disadvantaged people and or groups can obtain fair representation only if they are present in elected assemblies. Based on the above therefore, women and men should be represented at decision making-bodies levels locally, regionally and nationally particularly where crucial resources are distributed and are allocated.
They also suffer from work stereotype and gender distribution of labor, more are occupy in economically invisible work. Women experience lower socioeconomic status in general and hence is marginalized from making decisions at all levels. Nonetheless, women are poor in terms of access to resources, services and employment.
As the 2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation notes, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.”
The African Charter on Human and People Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Ethiopian constitution guarantees the rights of women as equal to those of men in all spheres including equality in marriage, the right to equal employment, and rights to maternity leave with pay, the right to acquire, administer, control, use and transfer property, with emphasis on land and inheritance issues and the right to access family planning and education.
The strengthening of women’s participation in all spheres of life has become a major issue in the development discourses and hence, socioeconomic development cannot be fully achieved without the active involvements of women in the decision making level in the family vis a vis the society. On the other hand political participation refers the active involvement and engagement by individuals both women and men with political process that affect their lives. The act of active engagements includes voting, standing for office, joining of political party or to take part the political campaigns of the political parties and to exert influence in the decision making process through public debate, and dialogue with the representatives they elected or through their capacity to organize themselves; or exercise public power by holding public office at different levels of administrations- local, regional, national and international. Therefore, political participation is understood as a prerequisite for political development hence, by improving women’s political participation, given that they constitute over a half of the world’s population may help to advance of political development and improve the quality of women’s lives.
Swoge is working with women politicians both at grassroots and state levels to assist them to increase their participation in politics.