Project Outputs

The WARIA programme for cohort 1 ended with a 'Policy Conference' in March 2022. All participants produced a Policy Briefing to summarise the findings of their research to date. These are included below. Click the arrows to open up each Briefing.

Doris Dakda Aaron & Christopher Ochanja Ngara, Policy Brief on Women Activism and the Changing Attitude on the Role of Women in Politics and Governance in Nigeria

Policy Brief on Women Activism and the Changing Attitude on the Role of Women in Politics and Governance in Nigeria


Doris Dakda Aaron & Christopher Ochanja Ngara

Research Fellows

National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, National Assembly, Abuja, Nigeria


The policy brief examines women activism and the changing attitude on the role of women in politics and governance in Nigeria. Over the years the traditional attitude and prejudice against women in most patriarchal societies, particularly in Africa, is among the major factors responsible for the subordination and obscurity of women in politics and governance. Using desk review and historical approach, finding shows that primordial prejudice against women’s participation in public affairs is gradually giving way to a more accommodating role for women as evidenced by the growing visibility of women in politics and governance, especially since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. The brief established that the rising public profile of women is due to decades of enduring struggles by women activists. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), feminist groups, and women in politics and decision making), through activism, public enlightenment campaign, advocacy, among others. The paper concludes that in spite of the changing attitude on the role of women and their recognition as equal players in politics and governance, the absence of a comprehensive law dealing with women issues have limited the effective participation of women in politics in Nigeria. The brief recommended amongst others that Nigeria should domesticate The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as one of the important step to achieve effective mainstreaming of women into politics and governance.


Prejudice and discrimination against women has been a common feature of most patriarchal societies, particularly in Africa, even though variation exists from one society to another. In Nigeria, just as in most African societies, women have mostly been treated as the weaker sex, resulting in their oppression, marginalization and alienation. These asymmetries manifest in many forms ranging from political domination, economic inequality to socio-cultural discrimination, among others. The reason for this disparity is that women are generally regarded as weak; inferior to men; lacking in intelligence; sexual object; personal property; personal servant; domestic slave; and deserving abuse (Dike 2012). This conception about women has often been justified by the Victorian ideology which suggests that God’s intention for a woman is to take care of the home front and provide help for her husband whom she is structured by nature to depend on (Haralambos and Holborn 2008), to consolidate men dominance in public affairs.

These erroneous and narrow perception and belief held about women in many societies, have contributed to the tendencies for women to be socialized to accept as their primary social responsibilities, restricted socio-economic roles, such as housekeeping, domestic chores, raising of children etc., in the family, schools and even work places. In a typical African society, women who venture into the public activities such as politics are viewed as deviants. Even women themselves consider women participation in certain aspects of public affairs, especially leadership positions as an aberration. Women who dared to engage in activities outside the traditionally approved social roles are stereotyped as wayward, uncultured and in extreme cases, regarded as prostitutes.

These negative traditional attitudes towards women, have caused many potentially qualified women to refrain from partisanship and roles that expose them to public visibility (Fakeye, George and Owoyemi 2012). Despite the spread and penetration of western values and institutions with strong advocacy for gender equality and mainstreaming, prejudice and discrimination against women persist in many segments of the Nigerian society. These prejudices are inherently expressed in structural imbalances that reflect even in occupational choices in which careers such as nursing, subsistent farming, teaching, secretarial and clerical jobs, petty trading, domestic labour, among others, are considered suitable for women, while highly technical, political and decision-making professions such as engineering, medicine, piloting etc., are considered masculine.

It is therefore not surprising that in the First Republic (the period between 1963 to 1966), the Nigerian government did not accord any meaningful role to women in governance (Ngara and Ayabam 2014). Successive military governments after the First Republic did little to change the narrative as governance was considered a masculine business. Ajayi (2010) averred that from independence in 1960 to the restoration of democracy in 1999, women participation in governance never exceeded 4%. This underscored the degree and extent of the marginalization and subjugation of women relative to men in public affairs in Nigeria.

However, since the declaration of the International Women’s Year by the United Nations in 1975 and the International Decade for Women (1975-1985), there has been a gradual shift in public attention from the initial myopic and negative views held towards women’s participation in development to positive and broader ones (Fonjong 2001, p.10). Subsequent conferences like the Nairobi Conference, the World Conference on Women Forum in 1985, raised tremendous awareness and targeted benchmarks for achieving accelerated gender balance and social justice for women globally.

These efforts were complemented at the local levels by the active roles of various women activists and feminist groups such as wives of Heads of State, women in politics and decision-making positions, women organizations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), as well as statutory bodies like the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, the Council of Women Societies of Nigeria, among others. The roles of these women activist has serve as change factor in fostering new attitudes in promoting gender balance in politics and governance

Today, the hitherto existing discrimination and prejudice against women has progressively abated. Women themselves have taken advantage of these changes with increasing level of interests and participation in public affairs. Consequently, more and more women are being appointed into key position of authority both in public and private sectors across the world including Nigeria. It is against this background that this policy brief examines women activism and the changing attitude on the role of women in politics and governance in Nigeria.

Some Important Trends in Women Activism in Nigeria

Historically, women in Nigeria have faced a wide spectrum of experiences in navigating through several hindrances that confront them. It is an established fact that the culture of patriarchy, male chauvinism and anarchy has greatly undermined the rights of women over the years. The effect is the latent and manifest structural violence, exploitation and marginalization of women in every sphere of societal affairs. Women for long have recognized the fact that their marginalization and subjugation will continue to subsist if they do not rise to the occasion and struggle for their rights.

Thus, women activism is a phenomenon that predate the independence of Nigeria as country on 1st October 1960. The first known organised women activism in modern Nigeria was the Abba Women Riot of 1929 (Matera, Bastian and Kent 2012). Whereas, throughout the British colonial administration in Nigeria, no woman was ever appointed into any of the Legislative Councils, they had to contend with bourgeoning colonial demands such as trade restrictions, increased taxation, levies, fees as well as excessive corruption of the colonial native authority. These state of oppression and marginalisation under the colonial government, and the lack of formal medium for women to seek justice, seem to have instigated the women movement in 1929, to protest socio-political and economic injustice meted out on the indigenous population.

Although, the Abba women activism of 1929, paid off as the colonial authorities dropped their planned tax increase and curbed the powers of the Warrant Chiefs, it however did not translate into the involvement of women in governance. Nonetheless, the 1929, women activism greatly inspired anti-colonial struggles, and created tremendous awareness about women identity and the potentials for women group to effectively organise themselves into a potent force in pursuit of their course as was later the case. In 1944, for example, the first ever women political party was formed and devoted considerable effort in agitation for gender equality and improved welfare for women (Egwu 2015). Similarly, the Abeokuta Ladies Club transformed, first, into Abeokuta Women’s Union in 1946, and later, Nigerian Women Union in 1949 (Egwu 2015). Although, women had no adequate representation in the leadership of political parties such as the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) and National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), they were however supportive to women groups and their causes.

Apart from the women political parties, pressure group such as the Lagos Women Leagues, also played prominent roles in canvassing for equality in access to education and better sanitary condition for women. Women activism in the pre-independence era became even more visible and penetrating in 1948 when Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, led the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU), in organizing a protest in Abeokuta against increase in taxation as well as the failure of the traditional rulers to protect local population against arbitrary colonial taxation. According to Simola (1999, p.104), the women’s groups led by Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti “Question the character of governance with regards to the authoritarian, arbitrary nature of decision-making by the Sole Native Authority and the colonial government’’.

It should be noted that the activism of these women organizations helped to push women's welfare matters in an organized manner, to the attention of the colonial government and the public (Egwu 2015, p.396).

International activism at the global level also reawakened the desire for women across the globe to be given equal opportunities as their male counterparts in governance. The first United Nations Women Conference held in Mexico in 1975 declared 1975-1985 as the United Nations Decade for Women. This development stirred up massive global awakening on the need to promote equal rights and opportunities for women. This gained further impetus following the convocation of the Second and Third United Nations Women’s Conference held in Copenhagen and Nairobi in 1980 and 1985, respectively. These conferences tracked the progress of the Decade for Women and culminated in the Women Beijing Conference in 1995. The United Nations 'Decade for Women' (1975-1985) and subsequent UN conferences promoted transnational political solidarity among women’s leadership across the world. The principles developed by women organizations during these conferences facilitated the formulation of new transnational perspectives for political action, new organizational structures and new strategies for advancing women's issues (Nelson 2012, p.85). This led to new forms of women political self-organization, self-confidence, improved women’s advocacy and inspired legitimacy for the role of women as workers both in and outside their homes.

In Nigeria, wives of the Nigerian Presidents also played significant roles through various programmes to ensure that a give women a voice in Nigeria. For example the former First Lady Dr. Mrs. Maryam Babangida, wife of General Ibrahim Babangida, dramatically changed the public profile of women in Nigeria. She was the first wife of a Nigerian Head of State to use her spousal position as a basis for playing a prominent role in the nation’s public life (Jubrin 2004). According to Jubrin (2004) Mrs. Maryam Babangida launched the Better Life for Rural Women Progaramme (BLP) in 1987 and wives of all senior state officials were incorporated into the organization. While the wives of military governors in the state became chairpersons of the state BLP, those of local government chairpersons also acted likewise. This precedence was sustained by successive First Ladies after Mrs. Maryam Babangida with differing tempos and commitment.

The changing international and national legal framework and the growing global network of feminist movement in the post 1990, all contributed in the exponential growth in the number and diversity of women rights movement groups and organizations with varying interests and commitment towards promoting equal rights and opportunities for women and girls in Nigeria. These women’s leadership movements have defied stereotyping, stigmatization, among others, and have continued to work hard for the advancement of women’s rights in Nigeria and Africa at large. three (3) systems of law - customary, statutory and religious laws in Nigeria

These organizations, among others, have over the years, organized campaigns, public meetings, rallies and press events to raise awareness and advocate for change on variety of issues relating to physical, structural violence, socio-economic and cultural discrimination and marginalization of women in politics and governance (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre PLAC 2018), with remarkable success.

Changing Attitude on the Role of Women in Politics and Governance in Nigeria

The activism of women leadership groups have made phenomenal impact in raising significant level of awareness on the role of women in nation building, particularly through participation in politics and governance. This awareness was created through long and consistent public campaigns in the mass media, political activism, advocacy and sensitization through variety of means including conferences, workshops, public demonstration, political representation, lobbying inter-alia. Over the years, this has translated into positive changes in public perception that have led to new attitude towards women as equal partners in progress with men in contrast to the primordial sentiment held against the role of women in public affairs held through the traditional Nigerian society till date. Sibani (2013) and Ibeanu (2009) shared this view when they asserted that the situation is gradually changing for women in Nigeria as their recruitment into the political and governance class is fast gaining acceptance.

Ibeanu (2009, p.2-3) identified four major socio-economic and cultural dimensions of these changes in Nigeria. The first is the growing “voice” and rising profile of women in the economy, community work and various spheres of professional and public engagements. The second is the gradual but steady withering of cultural restrictions on the perception of women in public affairs since the last three decades. The third is the rapid expansion in the work of activist women organizations supporting increased participation of women in politics and a resultant rise in the number of women joining politics and standing for elections. The fourth is the increasing tendency of women to take up economic roles in the family previously reserved for men and to question the myth of the “male-breadwinner” in many middle and low income families.

The transition from military to civil rule in Nigeria in 1999, contributed significantly to these changes by creating the civic environment for the introduction of a variety of favourable legal and policy responses. For instance, Nigeria became a Signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979, and became a State Party when it ratified it in 1985 without reservations. The country also signed the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2000 and ratified same in 2004, even though they are yet to be domesticated. The Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) also ensures women’s full and elective participation as well as equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life. Similarly, Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, provides that on no account should a citizen be discriminated based on community, ethnicity, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion (CFRN 1999).

At the levels of political parties, the major political parties that have controlled government at the centre in Nigeria since 1999, namely; the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), also crafted their Constitutions to accommodate the interests of women. At the policy level, an important step was the establishment of the National Commission for Women (NCW) in 1989 with the aim of institutionalizing mechanism to increase women’s political representation. In 1995, the NCW was upgraded to the Ministry of Women Affairs for the effective coordination of efforts to advance the cause of women across the country. A major milestone was achieved in 2000 with the development and adoption of the National Policy on Women in line with the goals of the CEDAW (PLAC 2018). This was later replaced by the National Gender Policy in 2006, which among others, seeks to build a society devoid of discrimination and create equal opportunity for the realization of the full potentials of all citizens regardless of sex or circumstances; and create necessary conditions for the political well-being of all citizens and enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have responded to these changes in two but mutually reinforcing ways: First, the CSOs served as the agents of change with support from international development partners to develop programmes tailored at increasing women political participation. CSOs have consistently engaged stakeholders through sensitization and advocacy to catalyze legislative and policy reforms necessary for women to be adequately represented in politics and governance. Secondly, many CSOs gave women the opportunity to play leading and active roles in the movement to demand for equal opportunities for women.

The steady progress with respect to women representation in politics and governance in Africa in general became a major booster to women in Nigeria as well. For example, since 2017, there are 30% more women ministers of defense, 52.9% more women ministers of finance, and 13.6% more women ministers of foreign affairs (Musau 2019). Similarly, across Africa, remarkable feat have been achieved with respect to the percentage of women representation in parliament such as in Rwanda (61.3%), Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7), and Senegal (41.8%). African countries have also recorded high percentage of women in ministerial position in Rwanda (51.9%), South Africa (48.6%), Ethiopia (47.6), Seychelles (45.5%), Uganda (36.7%), and Mali (34.4%) (Musau 2019).

In the 23rd February 2019 General elections in Nigeria, only 6 women, representing (5.45%), and 11 women representing (3.6%), were elected into the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively (The Guardian 2019). Only about 7 women, representing 16.67% are serving as ministers in the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. Although, Nigeria lags behind many countries in the world in terms of the percentage of women in politics and governance, there is however fundamental political, legal and social changes that accommodate increasing roles for women in public affairs. In response, increasing number of women are taking advantage of these changes as they no longer conceal their interests to aspire to political and decision making positions.

Figures from the 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 General elections in Nigeria in Table 2shows that even though fewer women emerged winners at the poll, there were significant number of women aspirants across the different registered political parties. For the first time in the country’s political history, there were about 7 female presidential aspirants (one withdrew at the last minutes), 22 vice presidential candidates, 285 deputy governorship candidates (INEC 2019). In spite of the gloomy picture presented by the few number successes registered by women at the 2019 General elections, there is however a bright future prospects of increased women participation in politics and governance if necessary steps are taken.

Major Challenges to Effective Participation of Women in Politics and Governance in Nigeria

In spite of the growing acceptance of the role of women in politics and steady advances in public affairs in Nigeria, there are challenges bedeviling their effective participation in politics and governance. Some of the major challenges include:

  • Absence of Legal Framework for addressing Women Issues: There is generally no comprehensive law in Nigeria that deals with the rights of women, be it political, socio-economic or cultural rights. Nigeria is a signatory to international instrument such as the CEDAW whose objective is to ensure women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life- including right to vote and stand for election as well as education, health and employment (UN Women 2020). However, this convention is yet to be domesticated in Nigeria, hence its provisions are not actionable in local courts.

  • Slow Pace of Implementation of the Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) in Nigeria: A preliminary assessment of the SDGs in Nigeria by the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) in 2017, which sampled ten states shows that the country has not made significant progress with respect to the implementation of Goals 1, 4, 6 and 7. (Odogwu 2018). This goes for most of the targeted goals including Goal 5 which is targeted at achieving gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls (UN 2020). If this continues, it will inhibit and prevent more women from active participation in politics.

  • Existence of Cultural, Religious and other Structural Barriers: Despite the gradual and progressive withering of structural barriers such as cultural and religious discrimination against women’s participation in public affairs in Nigeria, it will be delusional to assume that they have been eradicated. Although, the degree and tempo in which they exists vary across the country, they still constitute a huge barrier to effective women participation in politics.

  • Defective Educational Instruction: There exists defective educational instructions both at the family and institutional levels that tend to encourage women to see themselves as good only for inferior housekeeping roles. Similarly, women are socialized into accepting professions such as teaching and nursing as “feminine;” and professions such as politics, engineering and medicine etc., are viewed as “masculine.” Even though this trend is fast changing, it is still prevalent and tend to affect women negatively.


The prevalence in Nigeria of a traditional structures of unequal power relations between men and women, resulting in disproportionate distribution of rights and privileges has been an issue of great concern for many, particularly women. This state of affairs has led to various kinds of intervention by individuals and women groups in order to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women and promote gender balance in politics. The active roles of women’s leadership over the years have raised remarkable awareness on the relevance of women in socio-economic and political development of the country. This awareness has in turn fostered new public attitude of accommodation and inclusion for women in politics and governance. This trend is evidenced by the increasing recognition of the role of women by successive government in Nigeria since the re-introduction of democracy in 1999. Although, the number of women in elective and appointive positions have continued to decline since then, there is no gainsaying that the interest of women in vying for elective and political positions have been on the increase. Based on the foregoing conclusion, the following recommendations are hereby proffered to foster and boost effective participation of women in politics and governance in Nigeria:

  1. An important step in achieving increased participation in politics and governance in Nigeria is the domestication of CEDAW in order to give it legal teeth and make its provisions actionable in local courts. This will improve fair treatment of women, access to opportunities as well as the removal of all form of discrimination against women and girl child.

  1. In addition to the domestication of CEDAW, a law should be passed reserving at least 40% of seats for women in both the National Assembly, State Houses of Assemblies and Local Government Councils across the country. The legislation should also include a provision prescribing that 40% of candidates on political party list should be women. This form of affirmative steps is behind the successes recorded in Rwanda and South Africa in terms of higher women representation in politics.

  1. Government should come up with deliberate policies and programmes to accelerate the removal of structural barriers, such as social, cultural and religious practices that inhibit women from participating in public affairs and limit their access to education, economic opportunities, security and other resources that are essential to become effective leaders. This can be achieved through aggressive enlightenment campaigns, sensitization and advocacy programmes. Similarly, women in leadership, women organisations as well as other stakeholders should complement government effort by intensifying and sustaining advocacy for the girl-child and women, particularly, the rights of women to participate in politics and governance. The National and State Assemblies should join the advocacy by including the mainstreaming of women in politics as part of their legislative agendas.

  1. Government should intensify efforts at implementing the Goal 5 of the SDGs through the establishment of legal frameworks to institutionalize gender equality at all levels of socio-economic and political life of citizens as well as increase budgetary provisions for the programme. This is necessary to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

  1. Government and NGOs should adopt gender budgeting as a way of promoting gender equality through fiscal policy and the allocation of resources based on their impact on men and women. This will help in reducing the disparities in access to opportunities arising from state policies and programmes.

  1. Educational policy actors should put in place policies and programmes that emphasizes the promotion of women’s rights from the foundation stages of girl’s child education. Teaching of this should be introduced at all educational levels so as to foster awareness and to counteract the primordial notion “that boys are better than girls”. Furthermore, parents should be sensitised on the fact that girls can perform as well as boys if given equal opportunities.


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Kolapo Quadri ABAYOMI


Key Messages

  1. Women are active as economic and political agents in Africa. However, women compared to men often experience limited economic opportunities, access to education, different conditions of service and privileges, and are not always equal before the custom and, even the law. These differential treatments of men and women are well pronounced in Nigeria.

  1. This study goes beyond agitations for fair representation, to investigate how the presence and efforts of women in parliament translate into critical actions for women empowerment and increasing political participation.

  1. It reveals that there is little or no impact of female legislators in the State Houses of Assembly in leading and ensuring active participation, inclusiveness and empowerment of women in politics, governance, industries’ leadership and decision-making mechanisms due to the lower number of women in the legislative houses.

  1. The study recommends re-energised and critical application of ‘he-for-she’, ‘she-for-she” in such a way to identify and mentor participants in ensuring more members in the legislature, empowerment and capacity building of women, awareness campaign, grassroots mobilisation, enhanced legal framework, establishment of special fund for women, aggressive promotion of gender responsive legislation, lobby and advocacy.


There has been considerable attention paid to the interrogation of major challenges of women representation in decision-making in studies like Adefemi and Agunbiade (2019); Hamalai (2012); ITU and UN Women (2012); Okoronko-Chukwu (2013); and Osimen, Anegbode, Basil, and Oyewole (2018). These studies maintain the stance that most of these challenges are driven by socio-cultural and religious constraints that uphold certain inequality roles between men and women such that they have been domesticated to the body of democratic laws governing countries like Nigeria. While the rise of women in political participation in Nigeria is aimed to tackle this underrepresentation of the female gender, it is noteworthy that the increase in the situation is only gradual while the rate is depreciating with a national average of 6.7 per cent, both in elective and appointive positions. This underwhelming situation, therefore, has made scholars like Awofeso and Odeyemi (2014) and Ogbole (2017) argue on the premise that the few elected and appointed are implicated by low capacity affecting their impact and argument for inclusion. Thus, such a situation that has posed a serious concern for Nigerians and the international community requires a more quest beyond fair representation in democratic governance in Nigeria. This, therefore, preoccupies the study to interrogate how impactful the current number of females in politics especially legislature had mobilised for inclusiveness and empowerment.

Key Messages

Having understood the central preoccupation of this study, the examination of the impact of a current number of female legislative members in Nigeria in the mobilization for political inclusiveness and empowerment, therefore, provides us with the following key messages:

  1. General knowledge on the role of women in society, particularly in Nigeria

Considering the Survey Reports (2020) gathered from respondents in Kogi and Plateau States Houses of Assembly, the role of women in society and Nigeria particularly is indispensably unavoidable for economic development and, most importantly, for the reinforcement of advocacy for the vulnerable. Summary of the respondents’ response on this had it that women largely are not only pertinent in both legislative process and structure, but their roles in the Nigerian society also extend to making instrumental the quest for the less-privileged in the society through their active advocacy for them in the legislative process. This, therefore, requires that more attention be paid to their rate of participation, inclusiveness and empowerment in decision-making mechanisms.

  1. Effectiveness and efforts of the State Houses of Assembly in leading the transformative gender policies

In general, the effectiveness and efforts of the State Houses of Assembly in leading the transformative gender policies have been shown in the responses by the respondents that there has been little efforts and achievement from the State Houses of Assembly on the issue of age-long discriminatory gender policies in Nigeria. Part of these problems, according to various respondents, is attributed to the socio-cultural and religious factors that placed males ahead of females. The number of female parliamentarians are too small to have adequate impact on gender-responsive legislation and policies in the legislature. Because of the large number of the male legislators compared to female, it is claimed however that the House of Assembly is actively hesitant in its efforts to drive transformative gender policies in the North Central States. Thus, for effective gender mainstreaming, there is much to do in increasing number of female parliamentarians in order to attain a balanced gender representative posture in all facets of life in the country, most importantly in politics and decision-making.

  1. Discussion on how has the presence and efforts of the female legislators in the North Central States translated or not translated into ‘critical actions’ for women empowerment and increasing more women participation and representation

The study maintains here the stance of the Critical Mass Theory which posits that women are not likely to have a major impact on legislative outcomes until they grow from a few token individuals into a considerable minority of all legislators: only as their number increases will women be able to work more effectively together to promote women-friendly policy change and to influence their male colleagues to accept and approve legislation promoting women’s concerns (Grey, 2006; Child and Krook, 2008). Given this, four (4) states (Benue, Kogi, Niger and Plateau) out of the six (6) major states (excluding FCT) under study have female legislators in their Assemblies. It is explicitly impossible for these few and an insignificant number of female legislators to influence decisions in their respective Houses of Assembly for women’s rights and equal representations. According to the submission of the Critical Mass Theory, this may be said to be responsible for the low achievement recorded by the few female members in the Assemblies under study.

  1. Understanding some of the particular challenges associated with women representation in Nigeria’s politics

Just like what is now a national problem in the Northern part of the country, the challenges of women underrepresentation in the North Central can be directly traced to attitudes of many parents forbidding their female children from going to school; a problem which has resulted in a very weak women empowerment and advocacy for representation. Evidence in the interview transcripts has it that most women in the North are illiterate who did not know their rights and not ready to agitate for such rights with an explicit show of lack of education and empowerment for the girls and women. This problem, therefore, engendered the peculiar challenges affecting most of the policies and advocacies towards women empowerment and mobilisation for more women in government and the decision-making process.

Apart from this above, the socio-cultural belief that women were not meant to be in the corridor of power and administrations, a belief that women were only meant to take care of the home and other domestic issues is another challenge. By implication, this challenge is seen as a barrier that even informed the issue of the Northern society’s interest in sending their girls to school.

Largely, below are the challenges associated with women representation in Nigeria’s politics:

  1. Socio-Cultural Norms;

  1. Lack of legal and policy instruments for women inclusion in the states;

  1. Illiteracy and lack of education for women;

  1. Girl-child marriage;

  1. Religion;

  1. Poverty; and

  1. Exclusion of women of the North in the policy drive.

  1. Discussion on measures, especially, ‘he-for-she’ and ‘she-for-she’ strategies to empower and increase women representation in politics and the decision-making process

Looking at the state and challenges of women and representation in Nigeria’s politics and decision-making process in general, it is seen that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), not the stakeholders has only been working to increase women representation in the region as most of the respondents acknowledged. While advocacy and campaign programmes, as one respondent claimed, “as part of the strategies put in place by the stakeholders including the Civil Society Groups have helped to turn the tides, compared to previous political dispensations,” still, the increasing clamour for women participation has heightened the urge for increased participation of women in political discourse such that one respondent equally said that “unfortunately, most of these have not translated substantially into policy actions that ensure the protection of the rights of women. Though, we all understand that it is the spillover effect of the highly patriarchal polity in the North.”

Thus, in as much as the political parties that were supposed to have been the vehicle for actualizing the increase of women in the political space were not encouraging women in their policies, including their primaries, persist, the conviction about grassroots politics for women in developing them alongside the input of the political parties should be rejigged and implemented without considering the level of the political ideologies of these political parties and other groups which negate the affirmative action including a certain number of women in both elective and appointive positions in the public space.

There is a need to implement a deliberate mobilization of men and women in politics, bureaucratic and decision-making mechanisms for increasing number of female in all areas. This will be channel towards advocacy and gender-responsive policy formulation and implementation.

Conclusion and recommendations

Squarely, advocacy for the protection of women from abuse, empowerment for economic and political stability as well as review of the necessary legislations to accommodate the growing interest of women in politics both elective and appointive positions are now pertinent duties of stakeholders. With this awareness of the underrepresentation of women in the State Houses of Assembly in North Central, it is, therefore, important to actualize the following recommendations:

  1. Overall Empowerment of Women: There is a strong need to empower women more both at the top and grassroots to make them economically and politically involved in decision-making. This process will substantially mitigate under-representation and expose them to make their positive impacts to achieve sustainable developments.

  1. Awareness Campaigns: Stakeholders should organize timely campaigns that would design a sense of belongingness to women’s minds and drive out the spirit of inferiority in them. This, in turn, would promote women inclusiveness and empowerment with Nigeria.

  1. Grassroots Mobilization: The majority of women in grassroots like towns and villages are unexposed. It is, thus, important that stakeholders instill the spirit of inclusiveness in them and make sure empowerment is provided to them as a strong motivation for their activeness.

  1. Introduction of Quota System: The need to have demographics (gender, in particular) represented at all levels and aspects of the civilization according to national statistics is required. Domestication of ‘affirmative action’, a deliberate expressive quota in all areas of economy and politics, amendments of gender biased statements in the constitution and other legal frameworks, etc. are important. Hence, the introduction and reactivation of legal frameworks will go a long way to promote female gender inclusiveness and awareness in politics.

  1. Establishment of Special Fund for Women Participation in Politics: The gender inequality system in politics, although has been partially criticized within the Nigerian context with some political offices being held by women, is still very active as the ratio of women participation in politics is still low. It is pertinent that stakeholders should motivate women, with special fund, for political participation.

  1. Re-evaluation and critical application of ‘He-for-She’ and ‘She-for-She’ strategies: the emerging strategies of ‘he-for-she’ and ‘she-for-she’ strategies aimed at accelerating progress towards gender equality needs to be re-evaluated and energized. There is need to secure more commitments of political, bureaucratic and industries leaders (men and women) in Nigeria in the course of empowering and increasing more number of women in all facets of life, especially politics, governance and decision making process. Strategic patterns of such may be targeted at gender balanced leadership, women’s economic empowerment, equal access to economic opportunities, achieve equal pay, eradicate gender-based violence, mobilise youth for gender equality, etc.

References and Further Reading

Adefemi, A.O. and Agunbiade, A.T. (2019). Women’s Political Participation and Representation in State Legislatures, South West, Nigeria. Journal of Political Science and Public Affairs, 7:1. Available on Retrieved 3/8/2020.

Childs, S. and Krooks, M.L. (2008). Critical Mass Theory and Women’s Political Representation. Political Studies, Vol. 56, 725-736. Available on Retrieved on 16/03/2020.

Hamalai, L. (2012). Women Leadership as a Change Factor: Fostering Gender Balance in Politics and Governance in Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Legislative Affairs, Vol. 4, No. 2, July-December.

ITU and UN Women, New York (2011). Global Report on Women in Parliaments.

Kumar, P. (2017). Participation of Women in Politics: Worldwide Experience. Available on Retrieved on 3/8/2020.

NILDS-UN Women (2020). Report of the NILDS-UN Women 2-Day Training and Advocacy Workshop for Federal and State Female Lawmakers on Gender Responsive Legislation in Nigeria held at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotels and Tower. FCT, Abuja: National institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS).

Ogbole, F. E. O. (2017). Women and Political Participation in Nigeria: A Discourse. Research Gate. Available on Retrieved on 3/8/2020.

Okoronko-Chukwu, U. (2013). Female Representation in Nigeria: The Case of 2011 General Elections and the Fallacy of 35% Affirmative Action. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences Online, 3 (2), 39-46.

Osimen, G.U., Anegbode, E.J., Basil, O.D. and Oyewole, O.O. (2018). Political Participation and Gender Inequality in Nigerian Fourth Republic. European Centre for Research Training and Development. Global Journal of Political Science and Administration, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp. 22-38.

Orji, N., Orji, C. and Agbanyin, O. (2018). Women’s Political Representation in Nigeria: Why Progress is Slow and What can be done to Fast-track it. FCT, Abuja: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC). Available on Retrieved on 16/03/2020.

United Nations Development Programme (2016). Strengthening Women’s Political Participation: An Analysis of the Impact of Women’s Parliamentary Networks in Europe and Central Asia. Available on Retrieved on 3/8/2020.

Cecy Edijala Balogun, The Political Economy of Rice Production in Southern Nigeria: Whose Voice Counts in the Quest for Best Policies?

The Political Economy of Rice Production in Southern Nigeria: Whose Voice Counts in the Quest for Best Policies?

Cecy Edijala Balogun

Social Policy Department, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, Nigeria;


The following issues emanated from the study

  1. Rice production in Nigeria fails to meet domestic demand.

  1. It is possible to meet domestic demand and doing so would have benefits including increased economic growth, positive trade balance, food security and poverty reduction among famers and in rural economies.

  1. The main problem is productivity. Although several large farmers who apply good agronomic practices have recorded between 4-8 tonnes/hectare, the average yield of most farmers remained below international comparisons, especially in Southern Nigeria.

  1. Major constraints that contributed to the poor performance of the rice sector in Southern Nigeria include inadequate access to inputs, unfulfilled promises from the government, poor access to markets and marketing information, pest infestation, delay in input supply, elite capture, etc.

  1. The stakeholders were poorly represented in agricultural policy processes meaning that policy and practice does not benefit from their experience.

  1. The poor organization of the stakeholders’ groups contributed to their limited enterprise-related challenges

  1. A demand-driven policy process through the active participation of the stakeholders will significantly contribute to increased rice production in Southern Nigeria, reduce poverty and food insecurity, increase growth and contribute positively to the trade balance.

Definition of Terms

  • Agricultural Policy Process: The agricultural policy process is the active involvement of agricultural stakeholders in all the stages of the policy development process for adequate targeting of policy options and increased performance of policy interventions.

  • Participation: Participation is the active, informed, and voluntary involvement of people in a development process (Department of for International Development, DFID, 2010).

  • Value Chain: Value chains in agriculture are the set of actors and activities that are involved in the movement of agricultural products from the field of production to the final consumers, with value added at each stage of the product (Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, 2010). The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2009) identified the rice value chain to include production, post-harvest processing, and marketing. However, given the role that input suppliers play in the rice value chain, the activities that are required for enhanced rice production in Nigeria should include input supply, production, processing, marketing, and consumption.

Background to the study

The study examined the political economy of rice production and whether the voices of the stakeholders in the rice value chain were considered in policy processes that address the rice sector in southern Nigeria. The challenges that cripple the performance of the rice sector in Nigeria have been well researched, ranging from production environment challenges, limited access to inputs, and policy-related challenges. However, gaps exist in the representation of the stakeholders in agricultural policy processes. The absence of the stakeholders in the policy process remains a missing link that is yet to be exploited by the government in addressing the herculean problems that have continued to bedevil the rice economy in Nigeria.

The study argued that the voice of the rice stakeholders is imperative in policy decisions that affect their livelihood activities and in the attainment of self-sufficiency in rice production as a crop that can address food insecurity in Nigeria. The local perspectives in the rice economy are an important component that can enhance policy development decisions. Their participation will help to inform policies that are realistic, specific to the stakeholders’ environment, and sustainable for national development.

Key Messages

  • Rice Production in Southern Nigeria

Rice was identified as one of the crops that can address food insecurity in Nigeria because the crop can be grown in all the agro-ecological zones in the country. The area of land under rice cultivation in Nigeria increased from about 2 million hectares in 2000 to about 3 million hectares in 2018. During the same period, the quantity of milled rice increased from about 2 million metric tonnes in 2000 to almost 4 million metric tonnes in 2018 (Food and Agriculture Statistics, FAOSTAT, 2019). While the trend in rice production appears to be on the increase, sufficiency to meet the growing population of consumers in the country remains elusive. FAOSTAT (2019) revealed that while domestic production is about 4 million metric tonnes, domestic consumption is about 7 million metric tonnes, leaving a shortfall of 3 million metric tonnes.

While stakeholders in the rice economy have continued to emphasize the capacity of domestic production to meet domestic demand, this is yet to translate to reality., Some stakeholders believed the government’s policies and programmes to tackle the myriad of challenges that have continued to undermine the performance of the rice sector are highly politicized. Stakeholders are critical of government inaction:

In the aspect of revenue generation to government, if the government has so desired to patronize their farmers, for the fact that they have refused to support us, that is affecting us. The government has refused to support us, they have their agents giving us tickets, is that not still part of revenue generation, it is not until rice turn to oil that government will appreciate us, we are looking at it from the angle of negligence, they are not willing.1

The experience of most farmers in Southern Nigeria portrayed a low yield as a result of poor attention to the rice sector in Nigeria. A respondent in the FGD with women in Cross River State commented,

The only problem we have is a lack of improved species, lack of input, and because we are the ones spending to buy input, we use small quantities, to reduce cost, and our yield will be affected.2

The quantity of rice produced notwithstanding, in the absence of well-processed rice, the market value of the rice leaves the farmer, processor, or marketer at a disadvantage, given the highly competitive foreign rice that permeates the Nigerian markets with better quality and marketability. According to a respondent from Ebonyi State,

We are interested in farming rice, but the problem we have here is the specific rice to plant. Like in the olden days, in the 1970s, we have RI8. When you plant it, you know that you are a farmer. When you are a farmer, you plant and after harvesting, you produce another one. But this time, this rice we are having here does not produce enough.3

  • Constraints to Rice Sector Performance in Southern Nigeria

The starting point to increased rice sector performance to address shortfalls in domestic demand is the farmers' access to productive resources since production forms a pivotal position in the rice value chain. Inputs such as access to labour, improved seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides machinery, etc. are critical for increased rice production

Access to funds was a major challenge to stakeholders, enterprise activities

Our problem in rice farming is lack of funds, we need many funds to do our rice farming.4

While the government had made concerted efforts over the years to address the problem of access to inputs, the problem has remained highly political. A respondent in Cross River State noted,

The government announced that everyone should invest in farming, that there will be sufficient inputs and facilities, however, when the inputs were made available, they were given to the elite, who are political farmers and in some cases, such inputs are taken to Ebonyi state for sales.5

The late distribution of inputs, which for most of the stakeholders, were usually delivered long after the usefulness of the inputs, also constrain the production performance of the rice farmers.

We want the government to give us a loan on time, not when you promise you will give us a loan and you give us august September. Give us a loan on time like January, February, or March.6

The delay in the distribution of inputs was blamed on the political attention that is biased towards the northern farmers as compared to farmers in the south.

They use the farming timetable of the north to distribute these inputs so that by the time they bring out won, it is no longer useful to us. It was when Adesina was Minister of Agriculture that we receive our seeds and fertilizers on time.7

The challenge of limited access to markets and marketing information, as well as price regulation, affects the marketability of rice in the sampled states.

Our rice of last season is still there, we have not been able to sell them because we do not have people to buy our rice from us. This is a problem we experience every year, we are forced to sell at cheap rate because of no market to sell.8

There is no price regulation in our marketing system.9

The absence of price regulation which forces the marketers to sell their rice at a low rate due to a glut that puts the customers at an advantage, given their reluctance to pay highly, constituted a serious concern among the marketers. While attempts were made to regulate the supply to the market at any given time, the challenge of refunding loans collected for their enterprises limited their alternatives, thereby forcing them to sell at a cheap rate.

  • Stakeholders’ Representation in Agricultural Policy Process in Southern Nigeria

The need for stakeholders’ participation in the policy process was amplified by FMARD, (2015), noting that stakeholders need to actively participate in policy development and programme implementation in the agricultural sector for the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria. The purpose of participatory policy development is to bring the voice of the poor into the policy process, FAO (2005).

The relevance of stakeholders in the policy process notwithstanding, their representation, especially for resource-poor rice stakeholders who dominate the rice sector in southern Nigeria, was observed to be highly limited. Policy processes in Nigeria are mainly dominated by political office holders, sector players, and representatives of the stakeholders; who are mainly large-scale enterprise owners. Policies were reported to be mainly representing the voice of the government, which implies a supply-side perspective of policy needs. where this is the case, the indigenous needs of the stakeholders may not be adequately represented in designed and implemented policies. Whether as farmers, processors, marketers, or input suppliers, a common denominator of the rice stakeholders in the study areas was that their voices were hardly heard or represented in policy domains in the country; either at the state or national levels.

An analysis of the actual representation of the policy needs of the majority of the stakeholders revealed a low extent of representation.

Stakeholders’ representation in Agricultural policy processes in Nigeria is highly political. In most cases, the people that come to represent the farmers here in Abuja are political farmers. Some of them do not own farms and some are only here for their self-interests, not the interests of their communities.10

Now we have farmers aggregated into farmer base associations or commodity associations. They are part of it but mostly from the privileged government circles.11

From the stakeholders’ view, their leaders hardly represent their interests which according to them, is evident in their persistent lack of or limited access to resources required to enhance their livelihoods.

Our participation is minimal, if the policy is to succeed, they should involve us to know what to do to make it work.12

The voice of the farmers should be heard because they are the foundation, if the farmers don’t cultivate rice, the processors will have nothing to process. If we have abundant rice produce, then it will call for the role of the processors. It is the voice of the rice farmers that should be heard first, before the processors that will attract markets.13

No, our voices are not represented because we don’t have who will speak for us, we don’t have representatives, nobody is hearing our voice.14

Participation in policy processes will ensure the inclusiveness of the stakeholders’ needs from their standpoint, to ensure implemented policies are responsive to their local demands.

  • Influence of Stakeholders’ Organizations on Access to Inputs

While the challenge of accessing inputs and other value chain related problems appeared to have persisted over the years, and the failure of policy intervention in addressing the myriad of problems they encounter, the stakeholders’ capacity to engage decision-makers as a way of influencing decisions that concern their livelihood development, becomes imperative. A key concern of this study is a focus on stakeholders’ organizations, as a veritable platform for influencing policies that address their respective enterprises.

Field survey revealed that the failure of the rice stakeholders to organize themselves into one voice that can influence policies for their enhanced access to inputs and address their other enterprise challenges are hinged on several factors, which are highlighted:

  • Failure of the stakeholders to exit their comfort zones of waiting for the government to bring down benefits to them, rather than looking for means of engaging the government

If they persist about their problems Channeling them to the areas where they should have channeled to I bet you in no distant time they will have solutions to their problems but because they are always waiting for government and they sit down not to do anything. They are comfortable with what they are doing, they don’t want even perhaps to improve on what they are doing.15

  • Most of the study areas lacked formidable associations, which is necessary to raise their voice to policy domains where their needs could be addressed

In terms of the voice of the farmers, we have not been hearing what is going on because we don’t have active and outspoken cooperatives to influence price control.16

  • The uncooperative attitude of members of associations stalled efforts that, if pushed through, could have resulted in their influence on price control in their marketing of rice

We have tried to make efforts to influence policies that affect rice, especially in marketing but we failed. We tried to organize ourselves into groups on the marketing of rice, but there was no cooperation. For instance, you will hear people complain that when I was doing my work you did not call for a meeting, is it now you will tell me how to sell my rice, they will sell how they like it. Some will say I am indebted to somebody and now you want to tell me how to sell my rice, I will sell my rice the way I feel.17

Hence they could not agree on market influence.

  • Mismanagement of funds in associations also affected their organization into groups that could influence their group benefits, a situation that led to the discontinuance of some associations in some communities

We stopped attending the meeting in our association because they are not managing the money very well.18

  • Demand-driven Agricultural Policy Processes for Increased Rice Sector Performance in Southern Nigeria

Given the proportion of small-holders who are involved in the various activities in the rice value chain in Nigeria, policies that take into consideration, their enterprise needs become imperative. This could be achieved, when critical attention is paid to their needs, not as constituted from a supply-side perspective, but from an evidence-based need assessment, such that the peculiarities of the varied environmental constraints could be understood and addressed accordingly.

Below are some of the key areas of needs, from the stakeholders’ perspectives in southern Nigeria, which are essential for the sustainability of their livelihood activities, and in ensuring that significant progress is made in achieving self-sufficiency in the rice economy in Nigeria.

  • While the high cost of human labour gulped a huge amount of money from rice farmers, who complained of the tediousness of most of the agronomic practices, especially land preparation, transplanting, and harvesting, making small machinery available to them, could reduce the drudgery and make rice farming more attractive to them

Some people have money, hire labourers, some do the work themselves, but if we want to get a better result, we want machines.19

If the government can assist, not with the heavy ones, because the heavy ones cannot enter the soil because of our terrain, so if they can come up with portable machines like the ones we see on television, …especially harvester, put together your pre and post-harvest operations, the harvesting is the most intensive. It takes thrice what you use for planting for harvesting.20

Facilities to store the harvested rice to prevent them from selling during seasons of glut also remained a challenge to the farmer and marketers, in the absence of adequate storage, they were forced to sell at ridiculous prices, leading to shortages in their investments

We need storage facilities, if we don’t have storage facilities, it will affect the rice we produce, they will spoil after some time.21

We need buyers, our rice for last season is in the store, we have not been able to sell them because what they are pricing them is too low compared to what we spent on them. If we don’t sell them quickly, we will not have money to pay back our loan and invest for the coming season.22

  • Flooding also constituted a serious challenge, especially in Cross River state, where serious losses were incurred by rice farmers as a result of floods.

The government should also drench the river banks, to prevent the effect of flooding, which is a challenge in the community.23

A grounded understanding of the enterprise environment of the rice stakeholders, and policy issues to focus on for a transformative rice economy in Nigeria through an inclusive policy process, remain key to unlocking the potential of the rice economy in Nigeria.


From the foregoing, the following recommendations are suggested:

  • The federal and state-level governments should ensure that implementers of government policies in the rice sector focus on actual stakeholders who are directly affected by the problem to be solved, rather than distributing benefits to their political supporters because when such benefits are not properly distributed, the desired result will not be achieved.

  • The federal and state governments should ensure adequate and timely supply of inputs to the stakeholders to ensure their proper usage for enhanced performance of the rice sector in Southern Nigeria

  • The government and other implementers of interventions that address the rice sector in Nigeria should properly identify the location-specific needs of each ecological zones to ensure interventions address the specific needs of those affected

  • Rice stakeholders’ organizations need to organize into one voice and seek engagement opportunities to make their needs known, to be able to access benefits that will enhance their enterprise activities.

  • Stakeholders’ organizational leaderships need to ensure grassroots mobilizations and sensitizations towards policy drives as there appears to be a large gap in the interactions between the leadership of stakeholder groups and their members. This is essential for a unified position on actual situational issues that affect their policy engagement for increased performance of the rice sector in Nigeria.


Department for International Development (DFID). (2010). Youth Participation in Development.

A Guide for Development Agencies and Policy Makers. SPIN/DFID-CSO youth working group

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD). (2015). Knowledge

Management Framework for stakeholders in the agricultural sector in Nigeria

Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN). (2009). National Rice Development Strategy. Abuja

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (2005). Participatory policy development for

sustainable agriculture and rural development. Guidelines from the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development – Farming Systems Evolution Project. Rural Development Division, Sustainable Development Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, 2005

Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO), (2010). Agricultural value chain development: Threat

or opportunity for women’s employment? Gender and Rural Employment Policy Brief #4.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation Statistics. (2019). Retrieved from

Michelle Beeslaar, Hunger, Human Rights and Human Security: The political economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gendered food security inequality in South Africa.

Hunger, Human Rights and Human Security: The political economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gendered food security inequality in South Africa.


Key Messages

1. South Africa seen as the vision for African democracy is the most inequitable country.

2. South Africa has an overwhelming culture of Gender-Based-Violence in different forms.

3. COVID-19 pandemic has had global political economic impacts including in South Africa.

4. One of the most critical impacts was food insecurity inequitably impacting women.

5. Food security is the base for human security without which gender parity is impossible.

6. Strategic horizontal network policymaking and MOOC civil education will impact.

Food Security and Human Security

In 1996 an official, international definition of food security was adopted, namely ‘Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’. In 2006 the definition was updated to include that it ‘exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern’.i

Human security has become a substantive part of security studies post the Al-Quaeda terrotist attacks on the US in 2001. Scholars started debating what the referent objective of security was. The traditional view of the state was challenged by scholars who saw security to go beyond the the state and to the absence of threats to individual humans which included their day-to-day survival.ii As early as 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights linked access to food to as essential component of human safety, peace and security.iii


The South African constitution is one of the most progressive in the world that grants all who reside in the republic the right to sufficient food. ivWhen linking with international commitments contained in the UDHR, the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SGDs)v and the AU Agenda 2063vi it became clear that not only was the gendered food security inequality a significant blight on universal human rights but it perpetuated the imbalanced human security of women. This continued the cycle of lack of proper education, opportunities for financial inclusion and economic development, preventable health complications and as per Maslowvii, illustrated below, denied the access to self-actualise. The continuation of gendered food security inequality ultimately resulted in the consistent bearing of the greatest political, economic and social ills of the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment by women, 28 years into the end of racial minority rule and dawn of democracy in South Africa.

Complicating the area of research is that the last government census was undertaken in 2009 necessitating the utilisation of multiple statistical sources. Whilst credible it creates a disparate data set that would benefit gender studies across the board by a mapping exercise. Such a mapping exercise within the domain of a Community of Practice or Stakeholder Forum provides insight into the main actors and how best to utilise horizontal network governance to co-produce knowledge that aligns to actionable policymaking and impactful practice. In terms of the literature gap, there is a stark lack of a consensual, reliable and consistent measurement instrument of gender equality. This inability to quantify and analyse female empowerment issues hinders the research and development of targeted policies and programmes to overcome gender inequality. It makes assessment complex with risk of multiple monitoring and evaluation misteps that could lead to a negative outcome. This area requires more systematic risk mitigation from the outset. The gaping hole in civil education not only in terms of food security inequality but proactive steps at women's disposal to not only overcome the situation but to seize agriculture and agribusiness particuarly as an SMME of choice that offers substantive growth through the African continent market is a failure that could start to be addressed by innovative policy accompanied by creative and domesticated MOOC. viii

Key messages

South Africa: The political economic path from democracy to inequality, poverty and unemployment:

In a 2020 report, the International Monetary Fund stated that its research found South Africa to be the most inequitable country in the world.

South Africa: The ongoing battle for gender equality in a country where gender violence is embedded in the socioeconomic culture:

Gender inequality remains one of the most pressing socioeconomic challenges in South Africa. A Gender Status Index was created to estimate female empowerment using data from 1991 to 2017. It analysed the relationship between entrepreneurship, economic growth and female empowerment. The study found that entrepreneurship and training thereof made positive in-roads towards equitable gender economic empowerment notably in relation to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). The crux of the findings was that it did not translate to women being significantly politically and socially empowered. The lack of civil education amongst South Africans, particuarly females, continues the path down the rabbit hole of throwing money at policy issues but not turning policy into project management principle based programmes. Without understanding the South African political economic landscape at a level for that particular target audience need, without the societal response based academic research that is translated into the language of its audience and applied as per the domestic need, women will remain on the outlaying areas of South African society. This is not only socially problematic but downright dangerous in a country with high levels of gender-based-violence and another number of worst number ones - the rape capital of the world. Overcoming gender inequality in South Africa is not for philosophical debate or political rhetoric. It is a must and it starts with food security.

South Africa: The consequences felt locally amidst the global political economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic:

In 2020 the World Bank approximated that the 2021 worldwide recession severity on South Africa would exacebate the state's already limited ability to achieve all or any degree of its commitments including food security. The precarious economic situation was dealt a further blow when rating agencies Moody's downgraded South Africa to Ba2 taking the country two levels down of junk status whilst Fitch was harsher with BB- equating to minus three levels of investment. The 2021 economic state of South Africa was at its worst. Worse than democratic South Africa inheriting and paying off fully the multi-billion US dollar $ debt of the Apartheid government. Add in agriculture / agribusiness figures and increase in gender-based violence.

References and further reading

African Union Commission. 2015. Agenda 2063. The Africa We Want. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 August 2019].

International Monetary Fund. 2020. Six Charts Explain South African Inequality. IMF Country Focus. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 June 2020].

Maslow, A.H. 1943. A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4): 370 – 396. DOI: [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 November 2019].

South Africa. 1996. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. 1996. Pretoria: Government Printer. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2021. Sustainable Development. The 17 Goals. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 1 January 2022).

United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organisation. 2006. Food Security. Policy Brief, Issue 2, June 2006. Rome: FAO. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 19 September 2020].

World Bank. 2020. COVID-19 to Plunge Global Economy into Worst Recession since World War II. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2020].

Queensley Chukwudum, Coalition-Building for Women's Empowerment in Africa's Informal Sector



  1. Women’s only cooperatives/associations operating in many African countries often operate individually. This individualized operations constrains the ability to have significant national/regional impact.

  1. The general debates on gendered spaces and financial institutions are highlighted and discussed within the African informal sector’s framework. Cooperative game theory is also discussed.

  1. As a solution to this problem (in 1), a cross-border regional women’s coalition is proposed.

4. Cooperative game theory is applied to illustrate the beneficial impact such cross-border cooperation.


African women working in the informal sector are in the majority and their contribution to the African economy is well documented. For instance, the OECD, Sahel and West Africa Club (2019) have noted that women’s role in west Africa is central as they significantly contribute to the region’s food economy including commerce and trade across borders. Akyeampong and Fofack (2013) also studied the contributions of African women to the continent’s economy from a historical perspective.

Notwithstanding this fact, their national and regional impact is minimal as they do not exert significant sustainable influence within their individualized spaces. This has further constrained their ability to expand and form consolidated networks across borders with women of like minds even though agriculture presents a common ground for this kind of cooperation. A few academic research works have focused on the study of coalition-building along with the numerous benefits it provides to African women in the informal sector. For example, Fish (2006) critically examined how individual domestic workers in South Africa collectively organized themselves into a union. This triggered a series of events which finally led to the inclusion of the domestic sector in the country’s unemployment insurance scheme. This was one resounding victory over the then existing apartheid legacies. Nanfosso (2016) examined the relationship between trade union and the informal sector in Cameroon and a few other African countries, with special focus on addressing both women and child labour challenges. Kamm (2016) narrated in detail how the Lagos women’s association in Nigeria deployed stringent measures such as protests, editorials and petitions in order to coerce the British colonial officers to rescind the regulations they had placed on food prices during world war II.

Two gaps were identified from the surveyed literature. Firstly, a sub-regional integration of women in the informal sector is largely not documented in research literature. A possible explanation for this may lie in the fact that they do not exist despite the significant amount of cross-border trade and commerce that takes place in Africa. Secondly, a quantitative simulation showing how women coalition groups could maximize their benefits if they remained in the grand coalition has not been undertaken.

These gaps have prompted this study. It therefore proposes a structural model that focuses on how African women’s cooperatives/associations can maximize their benefits by forming coalitions across their respective national borders with the aid of a digital platform as the space for interaction.

The study is framed around the theory of gendered spaces and cooperative game theory. A simple simulated illustration is further presented to showcase how the latter can be used to model the beneficial impact of cross-border coalitions.

Key messages

The isolated nature of women’s cooperatives/associations in Africa’s informal sector.

The informal sector in Africa is the largest globally and women and girls make up more than 70% of those in this sector (International Labour Organization, 2018). Nevertheless, the women in Africa are even more constrained economically and socially than their counterparts in other developing countries (Olu-Owolabi et al., 2020). Lodiaga’s (2020) asserted that women’s only cooperatives operating in many developing countries often operate individually, keeping them isolated within the informal economy and constricting their benefits to only marginal gains.

True to this fact, the seven major women’s cooperatives/associations (across Africa) studied in this paper (PagSung Shea Butter and Shea Nut Pickers Association, Ghana; Femmes en Action, Mali; Femmes Vaillantes of Anié, Togo; P’KWI, Uganda; Nronga Women’s Diary Cooperative Society, Tanzania; Kamanga Women's Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Tanzania and Igbo Women’s Association, Nigeria) were not members of any larger social, political or financial network even though agriculture remained a common denominator for most of these cooperatives/associations. These groups are largely informal in nature although a few of them exhibit some form of formality. More worrying is the fact that many of the cooperatives did not have a noticeable presence online.

Financial institutions, gendered spaces and cooperative game theory

Financial institutions

Pyle (1972) describes financial institutions as those that provide/supply financial securities and contract. Although these financial institutions engage fully with those working in the formal sector, they have not had that much success with those in the informal sector. Agwuegbo (2010) reported that in Nigeria, despite the launch of the microfinance policy in 2005, the informal sector was still largely unbanked with poor access to formal financial services. This trend seems to be the narrative currently. According to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (2021), the majority of the world’s unbanked are those working in the informal sector plus workers in the micro, small and medium scale enterprises.

Gendered spaces

Rosaldo (1980) and Ryan (1990) describe the public realm as both a political construct and a physical space. Those in the public have the ability to create influence on their environments, and in general the economy. Thus, the gendering of spaces or landscapes is a means of organizing gender, a way of reinforcing the differences between a man and a woman. Rocheleau et al. (1996) explores how strict divisions of space, particularly in agricultural settings give rise to a greater degree of inequality. The relationship of men and women with respect to farmland ownership significantly shapes the associated roles of, and relative power exerted by men and women. This is a clear reflection of what takes place in Africa given that agriculture is the main employer of labour on the continent. While men are the ones who own the land, women are the ones who undertake the farming activities and the sale of crops after harvest - mostly the basic household staples. A deeper focus on the type of crops planted reveal that men are in charge of cash crop farming which inevitably give them more control over household finances since cash crops are more economically viable food products.

Game theory

Morgenstern and Neumann (1953) were the pioneers of game theory which is a framework created for constructing social relations that involve competing players and the science underlying the strategic decisions they take as the interact. The basic assumption in cooperative game theory is that the grand coalition which is the group consisting of all players, will form. Transferable utilities (TU) cooperative games have been applied to understand the cooperation between political parties with the goal of forming coalition governments and between countries for example the European Union and the United nations (Bullock, 1996; Hermans et al., 2012). One of the solutions to TU cooperative games is the Shapley value.

Proposed cross-border coalition

Drawing insights from the self employed women’s association (SEWA) in India, whose goal is to empower the poor women of India through mobilization on a large scale (Blaxall, 2004), this proposed scheme is designed to cater only to cooperatives/associations and thus the integration of community ecosystems. A women must first be a member of any valid and verifiable community in the informal sector. A graded model is adopted. Four major levels of participation exist (with levels one, two and three having two to three ‘in-level’ steps).

  • Level zero (base level) is the pool of unemployed women. It should be noted that in Africa, many unemployed women still belong to local associations.

  • Level one accommodates the women who fall below the lowest income threshold.

  • Level two is the asset acquisition level.

  • Level three is the human capital investment / community goodwill level.

The digital enablers such as the digitization of the profiles of the women on a digital platform and the use of mobile money accounts are highlighted.

Results from the simulated cooperative game theory illustration

Figure 1: Characteristic (blue) vs Shapley (orange) values representing the

expected payoffs/contributions for Benin (1), Senegal (2) and Burkina Faso (3).

The characteristic values are the benefits obtained when only national coalitions

are formed while the Shapley values indicate the benefits obtained when all

three countries decide to form the grand coalition.


  • African governments need to invest more in studying and understanding the dynamics of the informal sector in Africa as it is unique and exhibits differing characteristics from other global regions’ informal sectors.

  • This will include having a good grasp of the levels of skill and literacy as well as the age groups and enterprise sizes particularly as it pertains to the women and girls that dominate the sector.

  • A very good understanding of the informal sector’s structure in Africa will provide the insights required to design platforms upon which small women’s cooperatives/associations can join forces (regionally) in order to expand and strengthen their economic, social and political leverage. This sort of approach is designed to encourage cooperative-to-cooperative learning and networking.

  • It must be noted however that systematic data collection is central to achieving this goal.

References and further reading

Agwuegbo (2010). Nigerians shun formal for informal banking. Vanguard News. Available at

Akyeampong, E. and Fofack, H. (2013). The Contribution of African Women to Economic Growth and Development in Post-Colonial Africa : Historical Perspectives and Policy Implications. Policy Research Working Paper, No. 6537. World Bank, Washington.

Alliance for Financial Inclusion (2021). Bringing the Informal Sector Onboard.

Blaxall, J. (2004). India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA): Empowerment through Mobilization of Poor Women on a Large Scale. World Bank.

Bullock, D. S. (1996). Cooperative Game Theory and the Measurement of Political Power. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 78(3), 745–752. DOI:10.2307/1243298.

Fish, J. N. (2006). Engendering Democracy: Domestic Labour and Coalition-Building in South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies, 32(1), 107–127.

International Labour Organization (2018). Women and Men in The Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture. ILO, Geneva.

Hermans, L. M, Cunningham, S. W. and Slinger, J. H. (2012). The Usefulness Of Game Theory as a Method for Policy Evaluation. Paper Presented at the 10th EES Biennial Conference in Helsinki.

Kamm, E. (2016). Price Control, Profiteering, and Public Cooperation: the Lagos Market Women's Association and the Limits of Colonial Control. University Honors Theses. Paper 309. DOI: 10.15760/honors.320 .

Lodiaga, M.J. (2020). The Cooperative Movement in Kenya: Women Only Cooperatives Their Potential for Women’s Empowerment and Enhancement of Gender-Just Peace. 2020 - 7(4). American Journal of Biomedical Science and Research .MS.ID.001177. DOI: 10.34297/AJBSR.2020.07.001177.

Nanfosso, R. (2016). Trade Union and the Informal Sector in Africa: Cameroon. Modern Economy, 7, 1135-1152. DOI: 10.4236/me.2016.711113.

Rocheleau, D., Ross, L and Julio Morrobel, J. (1996). From Forest Gardens to Tree Farms: Women, Men, And Timber in Zambrana-Chacuey, Dominican Republic. In Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences, ed. Dianne Rocheleau, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari, 224-250. London: Routledge.

Rosaldo, M.Z. (1980) Knowledge and Passion: Ilongot Notions of Self and Social Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Ryan, M. P. (1990) Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, 1825-1880. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

OECD, Sahel and West Africa Club (2019). Women and Trade Networks in West Africa. West African Studies, OECD. DOI:10.1787/7d67b61d-en

Olu-Owolabi, F. E., Amoo, E., Samuel, O., Oyeyemi, A. and Adejumo, G. (2020) Female-dominated informal labour sector and family (in) stability: The interface between reproduction and production, Cogent Arts & Humanities, 7:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311983.2020.1788878.

Von Neumann, J. and Morgenstern, O. (1953) Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Eferire Edewor, The political economy of Textile policy in Nigeria

Title: The political economy of Textile policy in Nigeria


Key messages

1. Policy on the textile sector like the prohibition of textile importation has been tailored against the global trends.

2. Obtaining adequate information before formulating and implementing policy is crucial.

3. Textile policy till date has neglected the question of power supply, which goes beyond the textile sector.

4. Most policies suffer at the implementation stage due to a slack in monitoring, evaluation and feedback

5. There is a contention between the formal and informal economy which has to be reduced to the barest minimum.


Since independence, the Nigerian government attempted to promote the growth of the textile sector. Recently the Central Bank restricted foreign exchangeto textile importers. Other policies include the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) revival fund of N100billion (part of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP)) and the National Cotton, Textile and Garment policy meant to boost cotton production to 500,000 metric tons by the end of 2015, increase employment rate in the sector to100, 000 by 2017 and for raise $3bn annually from textile export. These measures slightly differ from the usual trade policy of whether or not to prohibit textile importation. However, despite decades of policy initiatives, the textile sector is yet to regain the vibrancy of the 1970s. This sector is of great importance due to its potential to positively impact the economy especially by creating jobs.

There are many studies on why the Nigerian textile industry has declined. Most of these investigated the influence of various factors such as globalisation and trade liberalisation (Idoka et al 2016;Diogu et al 2014; Aluko et al 2004) the perception of Nigerians to locally manufactured textiles (Adetayo et al 2017; Ogunniake 2010; Njoku 2004); how the adverse infrastructural and socio economic environment has contributed to its decline (Gado 2013; Gado and Nmadu 2012; Adebayo and Jenyo 2013), poor quality and lackof raw materials (Bankole et al 2004, Njoku 2004), obsolete machinery (Bello et al 2013, Nmadu 2006) as well as financial and policy constraints (Pessu and Agboma 2018). While these factors are important, the absence of textile industry stakeholders from the policy formulation process has been ignored.

Key messages

  • Policy on the textile sector like the prohibition of textile importation has been tailored against global trends.

The focus on promoting the textile industry has been targeted at revamping the vertically integrated industry of the 1970s which used locally grown cotton and supplied local garment manufacturers. Consumer choice and competition from cheap imports has led to the decline of domestic textile production. Policies to limit competition have not worked. Instead, the sector needs to succeed through becoming more competitive, including in international markets.

  • Obtaining adequate information before formulating and implementing policy is crucial

One reason for policy failure is a lack of timely and accurate information in the policy making process. For instance, most policies have not been informed by key sectoral trends such as:

  1. Nigerian textile production is mostly input for the garment industry;

  1. it is equally energy-intensive as it is capital intensive;

  1. its ownership is foreign skewed;

  1. its evolution lies in the quota /MFA period; and

  1. it is cut off from global value chain networks.

The result of this lack of adequate information is the swings between prohibition and otherwise on the textiles importation policy since the 1970s till date.

  • Government has to incorporate the major interests in the formulation and implementation of any policy concerning the textile sectors.

According to Loomis and Ciglar (1991) once there is an imbalance of interest, which results in certain interests being more beneficial that the others, interest groups will multiply. There are many interest groups which coalesce on the basis of their economic specialisation and social differentiation. In this landscape, two opposing sides dominate: textile companies and the textile importers/traders. And the contest has been whether to ban or not to ban textile imports. Other stakeholders are usually torn along this line, depending on whose power holds sway at a particular time. This includes the government and its agencies as well as the Nigerian consumers. Thurber (1991) obverses that the power of interest groups lies in their resources and the ability to transform them into a force in achieving their goals e.g. a regulation, a policy, without resistance from others. In 2011, the government chose to limit textile imports to protect the sector desopite opposition from the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA) . Ayinde et al (2016) claims that the ban was lifted due to pressures from a powerful political constituency of textile importers in Kano that had helped the new regime during the 2015 general elections.

Thus, policies are often not the results of the government as an entity, but of individuals who make up the government apparatus. This includes the politicians who are the primary decision makers, the bureaucrats and of course the citizens; three different platforms of interest which would reflect both social and economic interest. Policies then become a reflection of the interplay between powerful forces with diverse interests, which in most cases appeal more to personal benefits rather than national interest. The power of these interests can either be displayed at formulation stage or at implementation stage of a policy. For instance, the moment the sale of locally produced Nigerian textiles became less profitable, traders abandoned focusing majorly on these textiles to cheaper imports. The traders were pleased when the federal government implemented the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), while the manufacturers disapproved, desiring protectionist policies. The fashion designers and garment makers have the same commercial interest of profitability as the importers and traders. Removal of the ban on textiles will mean more options and cheaper access presented by the availability of foreign textiles for new designs. However, this benefit is cut short by the CBN’s restriction of forex to textile importers which means reduced purchases and higher prices of the imported goods since some will source forex from secondary sources. This will also negatively impact the import duties to be derived from that 20 per cent tariff on textile importation.

Besides the economic interest, there is the interest of the different government agencies. For example, Customs service has its own interest of providing import duty revenue, of policing the porous borders and enforcing a ban on textile importation. This puts it at par the textile importers who hinge on the average Nigeria’s perception of foreign textiles are of superior quality; perceptions which are the products of the various social interests with the Nigerian society. Therefore, to create a sound policy that will create lasting solutions, the government will have to incorporate these interests, pooling them and allowing them to negotiate some form of acceptable compromise with each other will the government serves as the mediator.

  • Textile policy has neglected the question of power supply, which goes beyond the textile sector

It is a fact that power supply remains crucial to textile costs of production as it comprises almost one third of their cost of production. Yet, these companies have to generate their demand of power which has become more expensive due to the devaluation of the Naira. Over time, policy has neglected the challenges of inadequate power supply to focus on reducing competition and later to providing funds for the industry without ensuring the funds are properly utilised and not diverted to securing power supply to the mills. The CTG policy and the National Cotton, Textile and Garment Enterprise Policy have also failed to address this particular challenge.

  • Most policies suffer at the implementation stage due to a slack in monitoring, evaluation and feedback

The implementation of policies concerning textile remains minimal. This includes the enforcement of bans which could be impeded by bribes and porous borders or presidential directives as had occurred in the Obasanjo and Jonathan regimes. Much is left to be desired on the issue of policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation. As a result, most of the policies put in place seem inconsistent and ineffective because the draw backs are usually not reported nor fed into the next policy which is most often formulated by another political regime with different interests and power configuration.

  • There is a contention between the formal and informal economy which has to be reduced to the barest minimum.

There is the war of economies: formal economy of the textile manufacturers and employees who can be easily and are most often over regulated by the government through taxes and levies versus the informal economy of importers and traders who can sometimes escape the regulations of the state to get huge profits. As long as much of the informal economy remains relatively untouched by the government, the swing in trade policies might not abate as the informal economy will continue to be attractive to more profit seeking interests.


  • The Nigerian government needs to produce a more national and inclusive policy that takes into account the various stakeholders and interests in order to reduce unproductive policy tussle in the sector. The government will therefore need to involve all major stakeholders. These include:

  1. The textile manufactures and their employees. This group is spread across different associations such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA); and the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTWN). This group lobby government and are the main proponents of prohibition of importation of foreign textiles which is perceived to beneficial to it.

  1. The importers and the traders with associations such as the Embroidery Lace Dealers Association if Nigeria (ELDAN) and membership of various Chambers of Commerce and industry. This group are opposed to import bans because this strikes directly at their means of livelihood. Sometimes the fashion designers align with this group because no import ban means access to cheaper and more variety of fabrics than the local industry can afford.

  1. The third group of stakeholders are the Government agencies: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Export-Import Bank and the Nigerian Custom Service.

  1. Fourth group are foreign stakeholders such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), IMF and World Bank. This group also includes countries importing textiles to Nigeria such as China, Cote D’ivore and Benin Republic.

  1. Nigerian consumers.

  • Since producing a more national and inclusive policy might take a considerable amount of time, government should focus on providing power supply and improving general infrastructure.

  • More research should be done to take advantage of the global trends and global value chains instead of going up against them.

  • Monitoring, evaluation and feedback are crucial to understanding the challenges of the industry and how to improve the policies made. Thus, more emphasis have to be place on these


The existence of diverse interests and inadequate information on all these interest usually presents obstacles to formulating a sound policy. This is because interests and power determine the extent to which a policy succeeds. The challenges facing the textile sector is multifaceted and cannot be settle by a grand policy which is not inclusive of all the major stakeholders and not organized in well monitored and evaluated stages to set to address the specific challenges at specific time scale.


  • Adebayo O. and Jenyo G.K.(2013) “Embarking on Entrepreneurial Activity in Textile and Clothing Industry Is the Only Way for Economic Growth in the Sector” British Journal of Arts and Social Sciences Vol.12 No.I

  • Adetayo, J.O., Agelebe, I. B., and Bankole, R. F (2017) “Consumers’ Attitude On Locally Made Textiles And Its Impact On Job Creation: The Nigerian Experience” Економика Vol. 63, April-June 2017, No2 P 15-29

  • Aluko M.A.O., Akinola G.O. and Fatokun S (2004) “Globalization and the Manufacturing Sector: A Study of Selected Textile Firms in Nigeria” J. Soc. Sci., 9(2): 119-130 (2004)

  • Ayinde, F. A., Kwaghe, P. V., Agbiboa, D. E., & Jijji, S. A. (2016). Political Settlement Analysis of Employment Creation in Agriculture and Agro-industries in Nigeria. Partnership for African Social and Governance Research Working Paper No. 015, Nairobi, Kenya

  • Bello, O.S; Inyinbor, A.A.; Dada, A.O and Oliuyori, A.P (2013) “Impact of Nigeria Textiles Industry on Economy and Environment: A Review.” International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences. Vol. 13, No. 01.

  • Diogu, G.O; Nwigwe,C. And Diogu, A.N (2014) “Problem and Prospects of the Nigeria Textile Industry”. Nsukka Journal of the Humanities. No. 22.

  • Gado, N. (2013). “A multi-discriminate analysis of performance inducing variables: A case of the textile industry in North West Nigeria, 1989-2010”. Global Advanced Research Journal of Management and Business Studies, 2(8), 423-428.

  • Gado, N., &Nmadu, T. (2011). “The performance of textile companies in the North West zone of Nigeria: The role of infrastructure as a resource”. International Journal of Human Resource Studies. 2 (1), 89-100.

  • Idoko I.F., Teru S.P and Saba H.D (2016) “Globalisation and the Dilemma of Protectionalism: Focusing on the Quotaless Textile and Garment Industrial Crisis in Nigeria” Social Science and Law Journal of Policy Review and Development Strategies, Vol. 5, No. 1 July, 2016

  • Loomis, B.A. & Cigler, A.J (2002) “The Changing Nature of Interest Group Politics” in Loomis, B.A. & Cigler, A.J (eds) Interest Group Politics. Washington D.C Congressional Quarterly Press.

  • Njoku, U.A.A (2004) “Marketability of Made in Nigeria Textile Materials” Ph.d Thesis.

  • Nmadu, T.M (2006? 2008?) “Trade and Declining Workers Rights in Nigeria’s Textile Industry: 1997- 2006”. Forum on Public Policy.

  • Ogunniake O. (2010) “Nigerians’ Perception of Locally Made Products: A Study on Textile Fabrics Consumers in Kaduna State” Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti Bulletin Vol. LXII No. 1/2010 30 - 36 Economic Sciences Series.

  • Pessu, T. R., &Agboma, F. (2018). Dwarfed Giant: Impact of Trade and Related Policies on SMEs in the Nigerian Textile Industry. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(6), 602–629.

  • Thurber, J.A. “Dynamics of Policy Subsystems in American Politics” Loomis, B.A. & Cigler, A.J (eds) Interest Group Politics. Washington D.C CQ Press

Osolafia Muhammed Egye, Political Economy of Gender Inequality and Political Participation in Nigeria



Osolafia Muhammed Egye

National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies

National Assembly, Nigeria


  1. The political economy of women political participation in Nigeria is a very contentious issue and over the year’s marginalization of women has characterized the process due to social, cultural and religious forces which in turn affects women perceptions and interest, in politics process.

  1. The male-dominated participation in politics in Nigeria is almost making women virtually politically invisible. However, various political moves through legislations and knowledge skills to liberate women socially, economically and politically are on to improve women participation in politics in Nigeria.’

  1. Women are believed to have an exciting political prospect in Nigeria. The issue of gender inequality has therefore been perceived by different people especially the women folk as an attempt to erode their fundamental rights.

  1. Despite the enormous challenges women are facing, women activism and advocacy, education of women, recognitions by successive governments towards women empowerment in politics is getting a lot of positive energy.

  1. Stakeholders continues advocacy for the protection of women from abuse, economic empowerment and review of necessary legislations to accommodate the growing interest of women in politics.


Gender inequality faced by women in recent times is contagious. Gender has become a major problem in Nigerian politics. Women have been politically considered endangered species and their low participation in Nigerian politics is often associated with culture, religious, economic constraint and male dogmatism. The Nigerian society in general has placed leadership roles on the men folk, thereby supporting the course of political economy of gender inequality in Nigeria.

Economically, some feminist perceive women’s marginality in political and public affairs as arising from their entrenchment of the globalized capitalists relations of production (Osimen, 2018). The traditional society in Nigeria did not recognize the contributions and interest of women in any decision making process. The female gender are carefully ignored in any important meeting of the family, community and even in government institutions. Till today, political or community development meetings are always held at night thereby making it impossible for most women to attend.

The 2015 general elections in Nigeria presented female gender (Woman) with good opportunities to navigate the way to power, those in attendance were female legislators, representative of various women’s groups, women and male gender activists, the market women’s association, professional associations and media practitioners. All these groups of women are after the actualizing the 35% Affirmative Action Committee by formal President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Many scholars have argue for greater women participation. Delving and Elgie (2008) note that whereas there is little evidence that increased women’s representation and participating changes policy output, “women add new dimensions to the policy agenda. They cited the Rwandan crisis, which created huge gaps within the male political structure of that country allowing women to make major inroads into politics. Pande and Ford (2011) argue that women are unique in political representation due to certain features including their style of political behaviour. They note that women legislators are mostly engaged with constituency work and problem-solving. There is concordance in the views of Rosenthal (2001), Shevchenko (2002) and Karam and Lovenduski (2005): They suggest that women apply democratic ideals in their leadership and conflict resolution styles and tend to work in a less hierarchical and more collaborative manner than their male colleagues.

Despite limited empirical evidence, there is a growing recognition of the untapped capacity and talents of women and women’s leadership (NDI, 2010). An IPU Report (2016) suggests that elections in Europe have resulted in an increase in women’s parliamentary representation. The regional average of women across Europe (both houses combined) increased from 25.4 per cent in 2015 to 26.3 per cent (+0.9 per cent points). This increase has been attributed to “a strong undercurrent of disillusionment with traditional political parties”. Ndlovu and Mutale (2013) also argue that despite significant improvement in women in political participation in Africa, the gap in comparison to their male counterparts remains colossal. In Nigeria, however, despite constituting 50% of the population and playing key roles in election processes particularly grassroots mobilization and campaigns, women remain largely under-represented in both elective and appointive positions as discussed below.

Challenges to women’s political representation have been identified to include socio-cultural factors such as traditional beliefs; negative perception of women in politics; anti-egalitarian practices; religion and patriarchy (Lovenduski & Norris, 2003); economic limitations such as poverty, poor financial base; institutional and political constraints including electoral systems and political party structures(Agishi, 2014; PLAC, 2018). Others are violence; aversion to politics by some women and low self-esteem (Willis, 2014); and lack of support for women politicians both from family members and other institutional structures (Ballington & Karam, 2005; Karam & Lovenduski, 2005; Nwabunkeonye, 2014).

That election was seen as a platform to validate the voting pattern of Nigerian women. It is truly evident the active participation and the support of women to the 2015 campaigns and elections, hence the need for reflection and focused advocacy for the conscious and quality inclusion of women in the structures of the newly elected government and parliament through clear pronouncements and action (AIT’s Focus Nigeria, 2015). Against the background this research seek gain insight into the challenges women are facing in political, to identify the economic hindrances associated with the women failure in political participation and determine the factors hindering women participation in Nigeria politics.

Despite the limited number and the challenges confronting women participating in elective and appointive politics, Nigeria’s history is filled with a rich repository of women activism and involvement not only in politics but in the promotion of human rights, security and peace.

Women’s Recent Contributions to Promoting Communal Peace in Nigeria

  • The Women Without Walls Initiative in Plateau State, which mobilized a peaceful protest march in March 2010; of about one hundred thousand Christian women within the state came out to lend their voices to put a stop to ethnic conflict;

  • Women in Borno State including members of the Women, Peace and Security Network organized a protest against the Shehu of Borno when the attacks in the North East started. They commenced the activism against the abduction of girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State. In August 2014, about 300 women and 500 children gathered for two days at the gates of a military base in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, claiming that their spouses were ill-equipped to fight against the Islamist militants;

  • Nasarawa widows, in May 2014, protested peacefully the ambush and murder of their husbands by the “Ombatse Cult” members in Nasarawa State;

  • Women staged peaceful protests asking for the release of corpses following the Shiite uprising in Kaduna State. The Sisters Forum of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria staged a peaceful protest to demand the immediate release of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem El- Zakzaky and his wife (2017);

  • Women in the Niger Delta have a history of social organizing and activism. Notably, in the 1990s, the Federation of Ogoni Women (FOWA) were at the forefront of the demands for autonomy and control of resources in Ogoni land. By the early 2000s, women in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States organized protests and occupations against environmental destruction, lack of development and employment by oil companies such as Shell, Chevron, Elf, Mobil and Agip. In 2002, 600 women from different generations and ethnic groups – Ijaw, Itsekiri and Ilaje – came together in an alliance with young people to peacefully demonstrate against the oil firm, Chevron. The internationally televised sit-ins called on the company to employ youths, invest in the local infrastructure and clean-up up the environmental damage caused by oil exploration. This advocacy highlighted the important role women can play in changing policies in the region; and

  • Women in the North East and the Niger Delta have often been drawn into political activity as a result of attacks by the Nigerian army’s Joint Task Force (JTF) or repeated intimidation by local militias.

Source: UN Women (2018), Program on Women Peace and Security 2018-2020

Women Participation in Nigeria Politics: Analytical Perspective

Despite the acceptability of affirmative action of 35% representation of women in electives and non-elective positions in Nigeria, the percentage of women in the legislative houses at the national and states level keep up decreasing as a result of male dominants in Nigeria political arena.

Since the return of Fourth Republic democracy in 1999, it is evident that female gender at the Federal and State level have not reached 10% representation in both the elective and appointive position. After six (6) political dispensations, no woman has been vice president of Nigeria and not to talk about president. According to Aiyede (2006) noted that the number of women in political offices has improved over the years, and is still likely to increase in future, but that the fact remains that the degree of improvement remains marginal. This is exactly what happened in the 2019 elections with a number of only 7 women won election into senate seat and 11 for house of representative. Though, there was a little improvement, not much was achieved in redressing the imbalance.

The marginal increase of women since 1999 depict insignificantly and with attendant implications for governance. Martin (2015) rightly observes that if the women overcome the many barriers of a very un-level playing field and succeed in being elected, they face the new challenges of life in a well-established “gentlemen’s” club that shuts the door on equal participation in parliament and it’s decision-making. The argument is that few women in political decision-making authority will not be able to influence policy especially those that have gender base implications. The few women in most cases are unwilling to challenge male structure of authority and domination.

Till date men dominate most public offices. The general elections held in the country in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 saw only few women elected into various offices. Several women contested both the gubernatorial and presidential elections but none has ever won. In 1999, out of 1990 contestable seats in the 36 houses of Assembly, men occupied 88.6 % leaving only 24 seats for women, a percentage of 2.4%. An improvement came in 2003 with women having 40 seats out of 990 seats representing 3.9%. In year 2007, women occupied 57 seats out of a total of 990 with a percentage of 5.8%. In the House of Representatives, in 1999, out of total 360 seats, women won 12 representing 3.3%. In 2003, men occupied 318 out of 339 leaving women with only 21 seats, a percentage of 5.8%.

The number increased in 2007 as women occupied a total of 25 seats, a percentage of 6.9%. In 2011and 2015, there were significant drop in the number of successful candidates into the House of Representatives. Out of 360 available seats, women won only 19 (5.2%) and in 20151, women had 19 seats at 5.2%. In Senate in 1999, women occupied 3 seats out of total of 109 (2.8%). In 2003, the number of women increased to 4 (3.7%) as men occupied 105 seats out of 109 seats. In 2007 women occupied 9 seats out of 109 seats, a percentage of 8.3%. In the year 2011, out of the 109 senators who emerged winners at the polls, only 7 (6.4%) were women and in 2015, women stands at constant rate of 7(6.4%). In 2019 the number in the senate seat drop to 7 (6.4%) and that of the House of Representatives drop to 11 (3.05%) and state assembly to 40(3.9%) respectively.

These figures demonstrated for 2003–2007 are indications of gradual improvement and that of 2015-2019 are indication of gradual reduction which amount to a very poor representation of about 75 million women in the country. More worrisome is the drop in the number of successful female candidates in 2015 and 2019 elections.

Challenges Responsible for Women Participation in Nigerian Politics

Nigeria women political participating is not proportionate to the 50% of the nation’s population which they represent in 2006 population senses, and has not translated into equal representation in political leadership positions at but elective and appointive. Rising global focus on issues of political economic of gender equality, aided the reduction in the growth of Sustainable Development Goals thereby creating a long-term discriminations against women, and promoting political economic inequality in female gender.

Some of the factors responsible for a huge marginalization of female gender in Nigeria politics. Nigeria's democratic culture is characterized by assassination, manipulation, lawlessness, illegalities, rigging, oppression, manipulation, marginalization and violence. Other issues are male dominated party executives labelling money politics and innumerable social, cultural and religious factors. These constitute barriers to women aspiring and contesting for elective positions in Nigeria political environment


The dismal participation of women in Nigeria's political development since 1999 the Nigeria fails to achieve 30% women's representation in the National Assembly, yet the numerical strength of female gender in Nigeria does not translate to increase in women's participation in political in elective and appointive positions. The study recommends the following policy and legislative actions:

  • Lawmakers should institute a legislation to reform customary and religious institutions to avoid discrimination against women's involvement in public life. The male-controlled structures that reinforce power imbalance between women and men should be dismantled.

  • Government at all level should partner with women's movements, civil societies and gender advocates to embark on aggressive awareness and enlightenment campaign towards changing societal perception that women are inferior to men.

  • Education of women is useful to give aspiring women courage and confidence to compete with men. Women education should target the adult population both in the cities and rural areas.

  • Executive should create a conducive environment for women's participation and representation in governance to eradicate electoral violence and political thugs. Election Task Force should be established by the government with membership drawn from the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agencies.

  • Legislators and policymakers should advocate for the protection of women from abuse and review the necessary legislations to accommodate the growing interest of women in politics.


Aiyede, I. (2006) “Women, culture and Society” in Amadu Sesay and Adetanwa Odebiyi (eds). Nigerian Women in Society and Development. Ibadan Dokun Publishing House.

Ballington, J., & Karam, A. (Eds.). (2005). Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Devlin, C., & Elgie, R. (2008). The Effect of Increased Women's Representation in Parliament: The Case of Rwanda. Parliamentary Affairs, 61(2), 237-254.

IPU. (2016). Women in parliament in 2016: The year in review. Retrieved from Geneva:

Karam, A., & Lovenduski, J. (2005). Women in Parliament: Making a Difference Women in Politics: Women in Parliament: Beyond the Numbers: International IDEA.

Lovenduski, J., & Norris, P. (2003). Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence. Political Studies, 51(1), 84-102.

Martin, (2015). “Nigeria: A Boost for Women’s Participation in Politics” Democratic Governance and Gender. United Nations Development Program Training Institute. Accessed 10-05-2015.

NDI. (2010). Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society Statement by Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight. Washington: National Democratic Institute.

NDI. (2010). Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society Statement by Kenneth Wollack, President, National Democratic Institute before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight. Washington: National Democratic Institute.

Nwabunkeonye, U. P. (2014). Challenges to Women Active Participation in Politics in Nigeria. Sociology and Anthropology, 2(7), 286-288.

Osimen, G.U (2018). Political Participation and Gender Inequality in Nigerian Fourth Republic

Pande, R., & Ford, D. (2011). Gender Quotas and Female Leadership: A Review. Retrieved from %20April%202011.pdf

Rosenthal, C. S. (2001). Gender Styles in Legislative Committees. Women & Politics, 21(2), 21-46.

Shevchenko, I. (2002). Who Cares About Women’s Problems? Female legislators in the 1995 and 1999 Russian State Dumas. Europe-Asia Studies, 54(8), 1208.

Hassana Ahmed Ibrahim, Analysis of Inequality in Women’s Political Representation in Nigeria

Analysis of Inequality in Women’s Political Representation in Nigeria


Hassana Ahmed Ibrahim


Box with summary of key messages

1. Women in Nigeria have remained grossly under-represented in government especially in the National Assembly where citizen’s representation is key, since the return to democratic rule in 1999 despite the policy measures introduced to swell women representation in politics inspite of their overwhelming population and contribution to nation building. The results of the 2015 and 2019 National Assembly elections confirms that female representation in the Parliament is steadily declining. Only 5.11% and 4.3% of federal legislators in the 8th and the current 9th (i.e., 12 honorable members of house representatives and 8 senators) were elected in 2019, down from 9% in 2007 and 7% in 2011.

2. Style of politics (violence, insincerity, and marginalization/suppression of women political interest by the male counterpart), financial constraints, cultural and social inhibitions were identified as the major factors that discourages women’s participation in politics and reduce women representation in the Parliament.

3. In an effort to address the challenges identified, the following recommendations are made:

  1. There should be a strict adherence to the 35 percent affirmative action as enshrined in the National Gender Policy of 2006 not just in appointive positions but also in elective offices. Thus, Nigeria must respect its commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially goal number 5 which is targeted at achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in all spheres of the society;

  1. There should be a legislation compelling political parties to reserve at least 35 percent of their tickets for elective positions in all the 36 states, FCT and at the federal level for women. This is to encourage women politicians to vie for elective offices. This will also help reduce the rate of violence and insincerity being unleashed on women by their male-folks as well as reduce women marginalization and the suppression of women political interest by their male counterpart in the country;

  1. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the various political parties should embark on an aggressive campaign or sensitization through radio and television jingles and talk-shows to disabuse the mind of Nigerians of prevailing wrong notion that women in politics are prostitutes, stubborn and disrespectful women. This will also boost the morale and confidence of Nigerian women to run for political officers especially legislative seats;

  1. The She-for-She movement should be domesticated in Nigeria by the influential women in the education, business and political spheres of our national life to encourage girls and women to take destinies in their own hands. She for She ensures that wealthy and influential women encourage young girls in school and women in both the labour market and politics, thereby ensuring the retention of women in not just the labour market and girls in schools but also, place women in vantage positions in politics by employing their wealth and population to achieve this purpose. The idea behind She-for-She is to empower girls and women to take their lives into their own hands and reach their full potential through stable income and access to education and above all achieve increased women representation in government; etc.


In Nigeria, the role of women tend to receive less attention and is being regarded as insignificant despite their overwhelming population and enormous contributions to national development and nation building (Sani 2001). This assertion is evidenced in the under-representation of women demography particularly in the National Assembly. Thus far, there has not been any meaningful improved women representation in politics since the return to democracy in 1999 notwithstanding the glaring reality that women account for a large chunk of the voting population in every election that has been conducted in the fourth republic. Notwithstanding existing policy measures aimed at improving women representation in Nigeria, pivotal among them is the National Gender Policy which was introduced on 15th August 2008, with the promise of 35% affirmative action for women, women representation in the nation’s federal/apex legislative assembly remained very poor. The Nigeria Women Trust Fund inaugurated on 24th march 2011 in Abuja and domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development was also expected to give a boost to women representation in not only parliament in particular but women participation in politics in general. Regrettably, it could not engender the desired outcome. Other measures include the 35% affirmative action policy of the Jonathan-led government which came as a result of the women-for-change-initiative introduced by the then first lady (Dame Patience Jonathan) to help encourage women participation in politics. This and previous policies bore little or no fruit as women remained under-represented. According to the British Council Report (2012), it is obvious that this country has not achieved gender parity in political representation at the national level, let alone meeting the target its set in the National Gender Policy (NGP).

According Okonkwo-Chukwu (2013), the Trust Fund exclusively earmarked 100 million naira to avail about 230 female aspirants’ financial assistance to execute their political campaigns regardless of their political party affiliation. Though commendable, these policy initiatives failed to produce the expected outcome sequel to the lack of political will for the enforcement coupled with the fact that the stated amount is too meagre a sum to finance the campaign expenses of 50 female aspirants today in Nigeria notwithstanding the position they may be vying for. It is against this backdrop that this brief seeks to identify factors inhibiting gender parity in women representation in politics especially in the National Assembly.

Key messages/Issues

Poor Performance of Women during Elections in Nigeria

It is identified that women record very poor outing in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections. However, women aspirants were more audacious in 2011 election unlike the previous ones (Irabor, 2011). Despite the effort of women aspirants, a few of them won the elective positions they contested for. A total number of aspirants both men and women in 2011 elections were 3306, with 3004 (90%) male and 302 (9%) female aspirants. The measured number notwithstanding the female representation could not beat the 2007 performance.

It is important to note that in the 2007 election about 1200 women entered the context, 660 won the primaries while 93 emerged winners. Out of these winners 6 were deputy governors, 9 senators, 27 members of House of Representatives and 52 won the state House of Assembly seats (Eyinade, 2011). Whilst this result was a great leap at that time and given the poor presence of women in the nation’s politics, it did not fill the yawning gap. The most important political seat after the executive (presidency) is the legislature because of their important role of enacting laws of the land. However, with more men in that position, laws affecting issues of gender will always remain inequitable.

The general belief among female politicians in Nigeria is that if more women are elected into the national assembly, they would encourage and help in making law against most of the problems militating against their progress. Therefore, many were dissatisfied with the results of 2011 and 2015 elections where only 7 women were members of senate out of the 109 members (7th senate) and 19 female representations in the house of representatives out of the 360 members and 8 women representations in the senate and 15 women lawmaker representation in the house of representatives respectively (Daily Trust, 2015). Furthermore, in 2011 only one woman (Mrs. Sarah Jubril) emerged as presidential aspirant (the only female presidential aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party). While in 2015 the nation got its first ever female presidential candidate Professor (Mrs.) Oluremi Sonaiya of the KOWA party, she was only able to garner nominal votes but hope her example will inspire more Nigerian women participation in politics.

Stylized Facts on Women Representation in Politics

Many view the inability of women to match-up to the spending power of their male opponents as one of the greatest challenges Nigerian women face in politics. The reign of political godfathers in Nigeria who bankroll anointed son (always male) and do everything including thuggery and buying votes to make sure they win, means that women will always come last. Women are yet to have a lot of money with which to earn the sobriquet “political godmothers” to be able to sponsor their political daughters. The British Council (2012) report, further reveals that women lost some of the ground they gained in 1999 at the 2011 election. It noted that the low percentage of women elected to various positions in the 2011 polls especially in the House of Representatives where women recorded a rise to 9%, has earned the nation 118 positions of 192 countries in terms of gender parity. The 9% representation of women lawmakers in the lower house puts Nigeria remade representatives for lower than their counterparts from South Africa (43%) and Rwanda (65%).

According to the European Union reports on 2011 election there were downward performance of women in the national assembly in comparison to 2007 election. In 2015, the APC female candidate came close to making history but lost the governorship election to PDP candidate. However, the female folk were consoled with four deputy governors in Lagos state, Ogun state, River and Enugu state. According to United Nations development program (UNDP) and Women in Politics Forum “lessons learned Workshop” 2015 noted that if the political parties had sincerely assisted female contestants, they would have performed better in the 2015 and 2019 elections. It also observed that contesting and winning election for female participants goes beyond giving women free nomination forms. It is surprising that despite all the efforts spanning several months, the female representation recorded lower success than even the 2011 elections. Giving women free nomination forms is not enough as supporting them to win the primaries and the real contest is key. Political parties did not do much for women to win in the 2015 and 2019 elections.

The results of the 2015 and 2019 National Assembly elections confirm that female representation in the Parliament is steadily declining. Only 5.11% and 4.3% of federal legislators in the 8th and the current 9th (i.e., 12 honorable members of house representatives and 8 senators all female elected in 2019) National Assembly are women, down from 9% in 2007 and 7% in 2011. It is regrettable that although women constitute the greater number of registered voters in any of the elections held in Nigeria, they are yet to experience full representative positions. The role women play during the electioneering campaign and voting processes therefore demands that they be allowed to partake in leadership positions for their sacrifices to the success of the various political parties at the polls.

Women Representation in Politics and Educational Attainment

Given the results of the elections of 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 which glaringly demonstrate that women in Nigeria are underrepresented, the above alternatives seem to be the best for the realization of gender parity in governance. The study found that the few female legislators in the 9th Assembly are well educated as 3 of them are PhD holders, 8 M.Sc. and 8 first degree holders leaving HND with only one legislator out of the 20 of them.

The findings from the sampled respondents showed that women representation in the National Assembly is very poor as only 8 Senators representing 7.3% of the 109-member Senate and 12(3.3%) of the 360 Member House of Representatives are women. The brief also found that 6 Senators and 3 Honourable Members were elected on the platform of the PDP while APC has 2 Senators and 7 Honourable Members leaving APGA with 1 Honourable Member. On whether there is any connection between educational attainment and women representation, responses showed a strong relationship between the two variables. 17 respondents representing 85% stated that educational attainment has no direct effect on women representation in the National Assembly while a paltry 3(15%) indicated that there is connection between educational attainment and women representation in government.

Challenges Women Face in Nigerian Politics

The study further sought the respondents’ opinion on factors inhibiting women representation in parliament in Nigeria and the following were identified as being serious constraints:

  1. Style of politics (violence, insincerity, and women marginalization/suppression of women political interest by the male counterpart) remains one the major factors that discourages women’s participation in politics and reduce women representation in parliament.

  1. The prevailing wrong notion that women in politics are prostitutes, stubborn and disrespectful women

  1. Financial constraint is also a major impediment to women representation in National Assembly in particular and in government in general.

  1. Men political dominance have been solidly entrenched in Nigeria by employing some suppressive instruments such as financial inducement, god-fatherism, political violence, and formation of men’s clique within the political sphere,

  1. Lack of the girl-child education as the major factor that has denied women basic qualifications for active participation in politics.


Existing cultural and social inhibitions confronting Nigerian women, taking part in elective politics impedes women representation in the National Assembly in particular and in the governance structure of the country in general. This study is on the entire fourth republic (1999-2019) and general elections in the country and how women in elective positions have fared. The study examined the link between women representation in parliament and educational attainment and found that educational attainment is not a factor that influences women representation in parliament as there a plethora of factors that determines that. In an effort to address the challenges identified, the following recommendations are made:

  1. There should be a strict adherence to the 35 percent affirmative action as enshrined in the National Gender Policy of 2006 not just in appointive positions but also in elective offices. Thus, Nigeria must respect its commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially goal number 5 which is targeted at achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in all spheres of the society.

  1. There should be a legislation compelling political parties to research at least 35 percent of their tickets for elective positions in all the 36 states, FCT and at the centre for women. This is to encourage women politicians to vie for elective offices. This will also help reduce the rate of violence and insincerity being unleashed of women by their male-folks as well as reduce women marginalization and the suppression of women political interest by the male counterpart in the country.

  1. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the various political parties should embark on an aggressive campaign or sensitization through radio and television jingles and talk-shows to disabuse the mind of Nigerians of prevailing wrong notion that women in politics are prostitutes, stubborn and disrespectful women. This will also boost the morale and confidence of Nigerian women to run for political officers especially legislative seats.

  1. The She-for-She movement should be domesticated in Nigeria by the influential women in the education, business and political spheres of our national life to encourage girls and women to take their destinies in their own hands. She-for-She ensures that wealthy and influential women encourage young girls in school and women in both the labor market and politics, thereby ensuring the retention of women in not just the labor market and girls in schools but also place women in vantage positions in politics by employing their wealth and population to achieve this purpose. The idea behind She-for-She is to empower girls and women to take their lives into their own hands and reach their full potential through stable income and access to education and above all achieve increased women representation in government.

  1. Through she-for-she women will be to pull resources together and galvanize support for women politicians to wrestle political power from the male fork in Nigeria. This entails the formation of women clique within the political sphere to fight the cause of women in Nigeria.

  1. Women should begin to seek elective positions more; not just appointments. For women to remain relevant in party politics in Nigeria, there is need to review the 1999 Constitution, as well as the constitutions of the various political parties in order to advocate for greater representation at the party levels, support women through actively identifying, training and building capacity to lead, contest, and advocate for women and social issues, and also create affirmative action like quotas to enable them contest.

  1. Women should seek for and support the legalization of independent candidacy in Nigeria as it will set women (and men) free from the tyranny of major political parties. Above all, Nigerian women should rise above cultural limitations and make efforts to defeat the psychology of patriarchy via education, empowerment programme, mobilization and networking. They also rise above religious sentiments that jeopardize their chances in politics.


British Council Report, (2012). Gender in Nigeria Report 2012: Improving Lives of Girls and Women in Nigeria. [Online] Available at

Daily Trust Newspaper, June 2015,

Eme, O. I. (2015). An Analysis of Nigerian Women’s Score Card In 2015 Polls. Singaporean Journal of Business Economics, And Management Studies, 4(4):17 – 29. Retrieved from's_Score_Card_in_2015_Polls

Eyinade, A. (2010). Women and Participation in Nigeria: The Imperative of Empowerment. The African executive, retrieved from

Irabor, O. F. (2011). Review of Women’s Participation and Performance at the 2011 General Elections in Nigeria. [Online] Available:

Sani, H. (2001). Women and National Development: The Way Forward. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.

Udodinma O. C. (2013). Female Representation in Nigeria: The Case of the 2011 General Elections and the Fallacy of 35% Affirmative Action. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(2):39 – 46. Retrieved from

Leo Igbanoi, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) and Livelihoods Improvements among Poor Female Beneficiaries in Nigeria

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) and Livelihoods Improvements among Poor Female Beneficiaries in Nigeria


1. Gender remains a critical issue in the discourse on governments’ Cash Transfer Programmes (CTP) globally.

2. While some successes is noted in the gendering of cash transfers in Nigeria, several gendered issues remain, including how CCTs impact on female poverty and gender inequality.

3. The current study uses qualitative approaches (in-depth interviews) to get narratives from beneficiaries from female-headed households on whether CCTs have positively transformed their economic circumstances, and if these do not reproduce and perpetuate gendered inequalities.

4. The study draws on a framework that draws linkages between institutions, politics, and governance, and their interactions with processes of decision-making, implementation, and economic and social impact.

5. The study will conttibute to knowledge on the role of policymakers in improving and implementing gender-responsive CCTs in Nigeria, and recommend ways that grants may be more sustainable in improving socioeconomic outcomes and gender equity for women.

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs)

Cash transfers exist as a key social assistance scheme used by governments across the globe. These programmes generally provide an income support of a certain amount to poor and vulnerable beneficiaries, the latter usually determined through proxy means testing (PMT), as in Nigeria, or other approaches (Ferreira & Robalino, 2010). The Nigerian government’s CCT provides a monthly income of N5,000, and a ‘top-up’ of an additional N5,000 when certain conditions are met, to targeted beneficiaries registered in a National Social Register (NSR). Arguments abound that CCTs are effective in reducing poverty and inequality, create better incentives for health and educational outcomes, and allow for agency among beneficiaries, among others (Adegbenle, 2019; Brearley, 2016; Ferreira & Robalino, 2010).

Gender, CCTs and the Nigerian Context

  • Gender remains a critical issue in the planning and administration of CCTs, although countries’s policies largely reflect gender awareness (Camilletti et al, 2021; Perera et al, 2021; Ginestra, 2020; Molyneux, 2007).

  • The National Social Protection Policy of Nigeria (NSPP, 2017) demonstrates this gendered consciousness as it speaks to girls education, women’s health (pregnant women and lactating mothers), affirmative action for women’s employment, among others.

  • Some success in this regard is noted, especially as it concerns impacts on girls educational and maternal health outcomes (Adegbenle, 2019; Baba-Ari et al, 2018; Holmes, 2012).

  • However, several gendered issues continue to trail CCTs in Nigeria, especially concerns about how they address the underlying causes of female poverty, how sociocultural norms affect the utilisation of the grants, the largely maternalistic assumptions of CCTs, whether the increased autonomy that control over cash provides necessarily translates to empowerment/redistribution of power within households, among others (Baba-Ari et al, 2018; Holmes et al, 2012; Molyneux, 2007). For instance, it has been underscored that cash incentives in Nigeria are not enough to lead to positive health behaviours if other determinants for success are absent e.g. good and qualitative health and educational services and the proximity of beneficiaries to health facilities. Also, the gross inadequacy of the value of cash grants in relation to the needs of households remains an issue. This study expands understanding of these issues.

The Current Study

.l Research Aim

This study aims to understand how cash transfer improve the socioeconomic circumstances of women from poor backgrounds and their families in Nigeria. Focusing on female-headed households, it examines how these grants inform their livelihoods actions and strategies, how this translates into transforming their living conditions while not reproducing and perpetuating gendered inequalities, and whether the relevant policies are sufficiently gender-responsive to address prevalent inequalities in the context.

l Research Objectives

  • To use in-depth interviews to generate knowledge on the decision-making processes and strategies by poor women on the utilisation of cash grants.

  • To get the women’s experiences of changed/changing/unchanged living conditions of themselves and their families, and the implications for reduced gendered poverty.

  • To develop information/policy documents relevant to policymakers and other stakeholders on findings from the study.

l Research Questions

  • How do cash transfers to poor female beneficiaries in Nigeria improve their living conditions qualitatively?

  • What motivations inform the decisions of female beneficiaries on the utilisation of cash grants and the strategies employed?

  • In what ways do cash transfer policies address prevalent gendered inequalities in Nigeria in a sustainable way and what are the policy implications of this?

l Methods

  • Data collection: The study is qualitative in nature and data will be sought directly from female beneficiaries of CCTs through in-depth narrative interviews. Participants will be accessed using a purposive sampling method, and snowballing where necessary (Babbie & Mouton, 2011) To complement this, primary data, and where accessible and available, information will be sought directly from the offices of the NCTO/NASSCO, as well as any existing studies on social protection/CCTs and gender in Nigeria.

  • Data analysis: The study will use Creswell’s (2009) analytical procedures to analyse the data collected. Data will be transcribed and coded, and identifying relevant themes will be synthesised to produce a narrative, interpretive report based on thematic analyses. The researcher will employ the principle of methodological distrust in analysing the evidence collected, such that the tenets of authenticity, credibility, and meaning are emphasised. This will ensure that the recommendations for policymakers arising from the study are useful, honest, and ultimately actionable.

l Theoretical Framework: The study hinges on a framework that draws linkages between institutions, politics, and governance, and their interactions with processes of decision-making, implementation, and economic and social impact (Slater et al., 2008). These links will be exploited to understand how CCTs are implicated in the political commitments of government institutions, and how this leads to diverse outcomes for addressing poverty reduction, vulnerability, and gender equality for women in Nigeria.

Policy Thrust

This policy-oriented research stand to be relevant to Nigeria in the following ways:

  1. Provide a qualitative insight into the effects of CCTs on poor women beneficiaries in Nigeria.

  1. Present cross-country scenarios of how policymakers have been directly involved in fostering gender-responsive social protection through CCTs.

  1. Conttibute to the roles of policymakers in Nigeria to improving and implementing gender-responsive CCTs.

  1. Recommend concrete ways that CCTs may be more sustainable in improving socioeconomic outcomes and gender equity for women in Nigeria.

References and further reading

Adegbenle, SA. 2019. ‘Social Investment and Governance in Nigeria: An Appraisal of Poverty Alleviation and Youth Empowerment Schemes in the Fourth Republic (1999-2019)’. In Oladejo, MT, Okoli, Uwajumogu N and Tijani, OA, Social Protection in Africa: A Study of Paradigms and Contexts. Reamsworth Publishing, Ibadan.

Baba-Ari, F., Eboreime, E.A and Hossain, M. 2018. ‘Conditional Cash Transfers for Maternal Health Interventions: Uptake in North-Central Nigeria’. Health Policy and Management, 7(10): 934-942.

Babbie, E and Mouton, J. 2011. The Practice of Social Research. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Brearley, EJ. 2016. ‘A History of Social Protection in Latin America: From Conquest to Conditional Cash Transfers’. Revue Interventions Economiques, 56: pp. 1-27.

Camilletti, E., Cookson, TP., Nesbitt-Ahmed, Z., Sandoval, R., Staab, S. and Tabbush, C. 2021. ‘Mainstreaming Gender into Social Protection Strategies and Programmes: Evidence from 74 Low- and Middle-Income Countries’. UNICEF Innocenti and UN Women, New York.

Creswell, JW. 2009. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, third edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Ferreira, FHG and Robalino, D. 2010. ‘Social Protection in Latin America: Achievements and Limitations’. The World Bank and Human Development Network.

Ginestra, C. 2020. ‘Are Cash Transfers in Latin America Gender Sensitive?’. Online at

Holmes, R., Samson, M., Magoronga, W., Akinrimisi, B and Morgan, J. 2012. ‘The Potential for Cash Transfers in Nigeria’. Overseas Development Institute, London.

Molyneux, M. 2007. ‘Change and Continuity in Social Protection in Latin America: Mothers at the Service of the State?’. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development programme Paper, Geneva.

Perera, C., Bakrania, S., Ipince, A., Nesbitt-Ahmed, Z., Obasola, O. and Richardson, D. 2021. ‘Impact of Social Protection on Gender Equality in Low-and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review of Reviews’. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 17, 1161.

Emily Ikhide, A Preliminary Assessment of Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Nigeria

A Preliminary Assessment of Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Nigeriai


Box with summary of key messages

1. Gender inequality is prevalent in Nigeria and cut across different sectors

2. There is no definite design and implementation of gender-responsive budgeting

3. A review of gender-responsive budgeting shows promising results in several countries

4. Going by budget allocation to the Ministry of Women Affairs and other women-oriented sectors, the government needs to do more to project the interest of women in the budget process and allocation


Gender inequality in different forms and dimensions and its impacts on inclusive development has necessitated the integration of gender development and women empowerment into the Global Development Agenda 2030. In Nigeria, gender inequality is a major social and economic challenge. The key gender development indicators show wide gender gap in social and economic indicators. For example, the Gender Development Index (GDI) was 0.881 in 2019, indicating that the Human Development Index (HDI) of men is higher than that of women. Women lag behind men in access to education, health care services, paid employment opportunities, and political participationii.

Meanwhile, gender-responsive budgeting has become a veritable tool to combat gender inequality. It is a fiscal tool available to governments to mitigate and rectify the effects of gender imbalances eminent across all sectors of the economy and societyiii. But Nigeria is yet to adequately mainstream gender into the national budgeting frameworkiv, and the limited progress made in gender equality is partly attributed to limited public investment in women development initiatives. Although there is a ministry in charge of women affairs and development, the budget allocation to the ministry is meagre. Only 0.10% of the 2021 budget is allocated to the Ministry of Women Affairs. This raises questions about the importance attached to gender and women development in the annual fiscal frameworks.

Although gender-responsive budgeting has become a popular tool for advocating for gender equality, it is still under-researchedv in most countries, including in Nigeria. Assessments on how the budget process and allocation reflects and impacts gender equality in Nigeria are rare. This is the focus and objective of this research project. Broadly, the research examines the political economy factors influencing budget allocation to women-oriented programmes and projects, and investigates the impacts of gender-responsive budgeting on women empowerment and gender equality in Nigeria. This policy brief is based on the interim findings of the project.

Key messages

Gender inequality is prevalent in Nigeria

Gender inequality is reflected in different forms in Nigeria, ranging from income, health, education, assets and resources, labor market participation to politival participation. There is gender gap in the HDI in Nigeria. Dat from the United Nations Developnent Programme’s Human Development Report 2020 shows that the HDI of men (0.572) is higher than that of women (0.504). Men also have better outcomes in almost all areas, except for life expectancy at birth . Male have higher mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, gross national income per capita, labour market participation, and employment opportunities than female, indicating the multi-sectoral nature of the gender gap in the country ( UNDP Human Development Report 2020; World Bank, 2020; UNESCO, 2019 )

Nigeria has one of the highest educational inequalities in Africa, with girls having less education than boysvi. Available evidence esists to suggest that women with higher educational qualifications are more likely to be in formal wage employment than those with less education levels, there is still significant difference in the enrollment of males and females at all levels of education as well as a higher dropout rate of girls than boys. Thus, the educational inequality makes women uncompetitive to participate in the formal workforcevii.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria Report 2019, recorded that 40% of the total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line. Of this, women constitute over 60% of the poorest people which translates to approximately 52 million womenviii. This is not unconnected to the level and quality of opportunities available to men and women. Women are mostly able to access employment in casual, low-skilled, low-paid informal jobs.

Another area the gender gap is prominent is in political participation. The national average of women’s political participation, reflected in elective and appointive positions, is 6.7%, comparatively lower than the West Africa, African and global averages of 15%, 23.4% and 22.5% respectivelyix. The National Gender Policy recommended 35% affirmative action to give at least 35% of both elective political and appointive positions to women, but progress in this regard is limited.

Gender inequality is also reflected in the distribution of assets and agricultural resources. Women accounts for over 50% of rural agriculture labour in Nigeria, but are ten time less likely to own land compared to their male counterparts. They are also less productive than their male counterpartsx, due largely to inadequate access to agricultural resources and technology (NBS, 2017).

The design and implementation of gender-responsive budgeting framework vary from one context to another

Although the goals of gender-based budgeting are similar, the path for designing and approaching gender-responsive budgeting differ from one country to another, depending on several factors. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Evaluation Reports, in a review of gender-responsive budgeting initiatives, show variations in approaches and different implementations routes with varying stages and outcomexi. Gender-responsive budgeting emanates from the understanding of the differential gender impacts of fiscal policy. Economic frameworks/policies/budgets are highly biased as they do not adequately capture the different roles and responsibilities of women and men, particularly the contributions of women in terms of revenue and expenditure. As a result, women's priorities and needs are not treated on an equal level with that of men.

Budgets and fiscal policies do not take into consideration the requirements for addressing these differences, and as such, budgets are gender-biased in conceptualization, formulation, execution, and impacts. Therefore, gender-responsive budgeting involves the disaggregation of budgets data and information by gender to be able to understand the extent to which policies with gender implications are to be funded. It recognises that budgets are not neutral and integrates gender perspective into all phases of the budget cyclexii. This implies having a budget that works for everyone (women, men, boys and girls) by ensuring gender-equitable distribution of resourcesxiii.

Generally, gender-responsive budgeting has taken the form of gender-based assessment of budgets, through the incorporation of gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring of revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equalityxiv. Although it is a policy document used by political authorities to shape social and economic development, decide priorities for action and determine needs-based redistribution criteria for the society, it does not ncessaty mean having a separate budget for women and men and is not necessarily aimed at increasing the amount of money spent on womenxv.

Thus, gender-responsive budgeting takes many different forms that include changes in fiscal policy in terms of budgetary allocations, and changes in administrative structure in terms of expenditure tracking and monitoring systemsxvi. However, a studyxvii presented a more practical classification of gender-responsive budgeting into three that include: gender analysis which entails the assessment of the situation of women and men and understanding their different roles, responsibilities, needs and priorities within the context of the sector; availability of gender-disaggregated data and indicators for budgeting to identify gaps; and finally, costing for gender equity by estimating the financial cost of undertaking an intervention or delivering services and goods.

Gender-responsive budgeting has shown promising results in several countries

Gender-responsive budgeting initiatives have been undertaken at international, national, and subnational levels in developed and developing countries (e.g., France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Uganda, and Tanzania). However, the adoption of gender-responsive budgeting initiatives have only gained recognition in the early 2000s in developing nations, such as India, Bangladesh, South Africa and Rwandaxviii. Galizzi et. al. (2018)xix show that the adoption of gender-responsive budgeting in an Italian municipality contributes to greater incisiveness in the local government’s management and creation of a gender-sensitive governance process. In the case of Mozambique, Holvoet and Inberg, (2014)xx found that gender-responsive budgeting initiatives have steered the integration of a gender dimension into budget guidelines, which have contributed to a significant increase in the gender sensitivity of Mozambique’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (the PARPA), and has increased gender mainstreaming of policies and budgets in the sector ministries where it was piloted.

Hinds, (2014)xxi provided specific details of initiatives that have been successful in South Africa, Mexico, Tanzania and India (Kerala). The South African Women’s Budget Initiative (SWABI) secured changes in policy and budget allocations, including the introduction of a child support grant that is paid to primary caregivers (typically women) as well as a zero rate of VAT on paraffin. Mexico was able to secure a 40% increase in budgetary allocations to reproductive health, as well as additional funding for programmes that target maternal mortality, immigrant women, and women in agriculture. The institutionalization of gender-responsive budgeting initiatives in Tanzania secured a 3% increase in budget allocations to the Ministry of Water for infrastructure projects that typically benefit women. Kerala State in India observed tangible increases in budget allocation to sectors like infrastructure and transport, that typically neglect gender issues.

Going by budget allocation to the Ministry of Women Affairs and other women-oriented sectors, the Nigerian government needs to do more to project the interest of women in the budget process and allocation

One of the preliminary approaches to assessing and applying gender-responsive budgeting is through the analysis of budget allocations to core women-oriented and focused agencies. In this case, the annual budget allocations are used to get insight into the extent to which the government allocates funds to women-oriented agencies and projects. The analysis of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s annual budget allocation to four selected ministries over a period of five years (2015-2022) reveals that the annual budget allocation to the Ministries are meagre. On the average, less than 0.10% of the total budget was allocated to the Ministry of Women Affairs between 2015 and 2020. The proportion of the budget allocation to the Ministries of Health and Water Resources are below 5%. Although, the percentage of budget allocated to the Ministry of Education was highest among the core ministries (10.75% in 2015), it falls short of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) benchmark of 15% to 20% of budget allocation to the education sector. The allocation to the Ministry of Health also falls short of the 2001 Abuja Declaration, where Africa governments committed to dedicate at least 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector. It is important to note that including sub-national budget allocations to these sectors will increase the overall proportion of funding to the sectors. One of the implications of poor budget allocation to women-oriented sectors is unfavourable perception of the priorities placed on gender development. This shows the need to re-evaluate government’s commitment to eradicating gender inequality in Nigeria.


  • The government should make concerted efforts to close the wide gender gaps in socio-economic and development outcomes in Nigeria. This is a multi-sectoral issues that requires the collaboration and engagement of all sectors and stakeholders in the economy. The Ministry of Women Affairs may take the lead in this area by acknowledging the wide gender gap in the country, and make deliberate efforts to combat it.

  • There is no one-size-fit-all definition of gender-responsive budgeting. Hence, it is critical for the Nigerian government and relevant stakeholders to develop a conceptual framework for assessing and implementing gender-responsive budgeting in Nigeria. The Ministry of Finance, the Budget Office of the Federation, the Ministry of Women Affairs, the National Assembly, women-oriented civil society organisations, and other stakeholders have a major role to play in this regard.

  • The experiences of some countries have shown that gende-responsive budgeting has promising results in terms of gender indicators and outcomes. Therefore, effective and successful design and implementation of gender-responsive budgeing in Nigeria would likely enhance the attainment of gender development outcomes.

  • In the short term, the government may show more commitment to gender equality and development by increasing budget allocation to women-oriented sectors and intervention projects and ensure implementation. This initiative may be promoted by the Ministtry of Women Affairs and National Assembly Committees on Women Affairs.

References and further reading

Ejalonibu Ganiyu Layi, Legal Instrumentations and Gender-Based Discrimination in the Nigerian Police

Policy Briefing

Legal Instrumentations and Gender-Based Discrimination in the Nigerian Police


Ejalonibu Ganiyu Layi


Key Points

  1. While sexism is found virtually in all the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, my study shows that there is pronounced gender-based discrimination in the Nigerian Police;

  1. The Nigeria Police (Repeal and Re-enactment) Act, 2020, was intended to implement important reforms, rmoving colonial era provisions

  1. However, women are grossly under-represented in the Police making up only about 4% of the force and about 8% of the officer cadre;1

  1. In terms of recruitment, the Police Regulations limit chances of female candidates to be recruited into the force, by disqualifying married women from enlistment;

  1. The extant law, specifically, Section 126 of the Police Regulations discriminated against women by specifying when, who and how serving female officers may marry. There are no comparable prescriptions for male officers;

  1. The Police Orders also discriminate against female officers by prescribing limited training and restricted sphere of posting for policewomen. Thus, female police officers are reduced to "police of women and children" instead of police officers;

  1. The Regulations over-regulated the dressing of female officers and thereby curtailed their individuality.

  1. Like the Police Act itself, the Police Regulations should also be reviewed with a view to eliminating the various discriminatory provisions on enlistment of married women, duties of policewomen; discharge of unmarried pregnant women; posting, training and use of firearms and dressing by policewomen.

  1. This is essential if the police force is to be able to uphold the protection of women and children and play a leading role in cultural change.


Legal Instrumentation can be defined as the application of legal instruments, usually in the form of written document such as an Act of national Parliament or a law passed by a competent legislative house at state and local levels; can be domestic or international law; that records the formal execution of legally enforceable acts policies or regulations, and recognizes their associated legal rights, obligations and duties.2 In this policy briefing legal instrumentation refers to Nigerian Police Act and Police Regulations.

Gender-based discrimination describes the situation in which people are treated differently simply because they are male or female, rather than on the basis of their individual skills or capabilities.3 It is any unequal treatment, including privilege and priority, on the basis of gender. Gender discrimination is prohibited under almost every human rights treaty. This includes international laws providing for equal gender rights between men and women, as well as those specifically dedicated to the realization of women’s rights, such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women4 – considered the international bill of rights for women.


This policy brief summarizes key findings and recommendations relating to legal instruments from the report, ‘Gender-Based Discrimination in the Nigerian Police.’ The report examined how laws and subsidiary legislations have further gender-based discrimination in Nigerian Police. Legal instruments stood out as key issues for Police women and as a major contributor to the incidence of sexism in Nigerian Police. In fact, there is ample evidence in law, practices, customs and traditions to support the position that “since time immemorial, the rights and duties of women in Nigeria have been subjected to the wishes and aspirations of their men counterpart.”5 Also, a strong correlation was found between the spirit of laws relating to the Law Enforcement Agency (the Nigerian Police) and the prevailing cultural, religious and traditional norms amongst Nigerian societies.6 This indicates that religion, traditions and cultural norms are a crucial link in the chain of intergenerational transmission of gender discrimination. These harmful traditional cultural practices reflect and find their way into many regulations and modern-day legislations.7

Generally, the legal documents examined (the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, The Nigerian Police Act, The Police Regulations/Orders), reflect thus women have been particularly discriminated against based on provisions that prioritize cultural values and beliefs. They face many legal barriers to access, contribute and participate equally in their organisations and this prevents them from developing their full potential and impedes social and inclusive sustainable development as envisaged in SDG5 and SDG10. The social groupings and specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, in the context of Nigerian Police will therefore have a considerable effect not only on the policewomen themselves, but on the entire Nigerian Police. Therefore, close attention to the evidence on gender inequalities emerging from the analysis is required.

The report ‘Gender-Based Discrimination in the Nigerian Police’ used an Ex-post Impact Assessment methodology which was adapted to the Nigerian Police to analyse and evaluate the implementation of the Nigeria Police Act and other related laws as regard gender balance. The analysis was based on Post Legislative Scrutiny (PLS) of gender sensitive issues in the extant laws. The scrutiny identified seven dimensions of gender-based discrimination, these include language, recruitment, training/posting, dressing/nomenclature, marriage, pregnancy/child birth, and welfare. This application of ex-post evaluation (PLS) is an inquiry methodology or a structured process of assessing how the law has worked and to what extent it has achieved its objectives.

Analysis of Gender Issues in Nigerian Police Act

An analysis of the Police Act and other regulatory/policy documents governing the internal and external workings of the Nigerian Police reveals a preponderance of discriminatory regulations and workplace practices that reinforce gender discrimination. The examination of gender issues covers various spheres of policy and practice ranging from language, recruitment, training and posting; to marriage, pregnancy and child bearing. The starting point of this analysis would be from the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN). In, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is replete with language that is not gender sensitive, which is exclusionary and reproduces negative stereotypes. For example, the pronoun “He” without “she” appears in the 1999 constitution 235 times.

Again, Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which deals with appointment into Government Agencies does not include gender consideration in the composition of the government and its agencies.8 So, having this kind of provisions in the Constitution, being the grundnorm of every rule of law in the country, will certainly influence every other law. This is because the constitution does not recognise the role of the female gender in governance. For example, the above Section provides that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”. The provision of the section gives room for the marginalisation of women in government appointment, because while other aspects of society like ethnic and sectional groups are mentioned, it is silent on the issue of gender.

In similar vein, Section 26 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution confers the right of citizenship on any woman who is married to a Nigerian citizen but denies such right to foreign men married to Nigerian citizens. Although the Immigration Act does not provide for discrimination, married women applying for Nigerian passports are required to submit the written consent of their husbands. “A person whose mother is a Nigerian but whose father is a foreigner is not entitled to a Nigerian passport”9. This part of the constitution discriminates against women and this may be a ground to further such discrimination in a subsidiary law like the Police Act. Having established the background of problem in the constitution itself, scrutiny of the Police Act and other subsidiary laws relating to policing reveals the following:

1. Outdated Regulations: From the analysis in the main study, I realized that the Police Regulations is a key component of the Police Act as it contains more detailed provisions on the administration of the Police – even more detailed than the Principal Act. However, it is instructive to note that despite the Nigeria Police (Repeal and Re-enactment) Act, 2020, which was an improvement on the old Act, still continues to discriminate against female officers.10 This continues to happen largely because the existing Police Regulations (an administrative document of the Police) which was entered into force in 1968 and is yet to be reviewed. Many of the documents used to direct and regulate the internal and external workings of the Nigerian Police are grossly outdated, with several of the regulations situated within the colonial period. For example, Police Order No. 18 was signed by T. Farley-Smith and dated 28th April, 1951. Consequently, the instruments directing the operations and activities of the present-day Nigeria Police Force are rooted in British Victorian ideology and influenced by the male-centric culture and practice of the period. To compound the problem, the old Act situated the responsibility for the review of the Regulations on the President, which is not in line with modern practice, limits accountability and the separation of powers. The new Act now mandates that the Regulations be reviewed regularly by the Minister in charge of Police Affairs. This is meant to reinforce another layer of civilian oversight of the police.11 There is a need for a comprehensive review of the Police Regulations, which has not been done since 1968.

2. Language - Language used in the documents exhibit gender insensitivity. Officers as well as the rank and file were continually referred to as “he” or men. For example, the Police Act, No. 316 (Duties of CP for a State Command) states that: “The CP …shall be charged with the command and administration of the …to which he is appointed…,” also, Police Order No. 60 (for Traffic Training Course) states that: “Candidates selected should be men of intelligence.” This language can be likened to one found in the Air Force Act, wherein ‘airmen’ is used to refer to both female and male officers, this is discriminatory (Imasogie, 2010). There appears to be a deliberate attempt either to ignore or at best underplay the presence of women in the Nigeria Police Force. The language of the documents would appear to indicate a bias towards a masculine and male ideal, taking the male employee as the point of departure (Asplund, 2010).

3. Recruitment – The Police Act and Regulations as well as other regulatory documents contain discriminatory recruitment laws against women aspiring to enlist in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). For instance, married women are disqualified from enlistment into the NPF. This is clearly stated in Police Act 118 (under Qualifications for women candidates for enlistment) which emphasizes that the prospective women applicants wishing to join the Police ‗must be unmarried‟. This could probably be one of the contributory factors for the low percentage of women in the Nigeria Police Force.

4. Training and Posting – The documents are replete with many instances of discrimination against female officers. These discriminations range from the prescription of limited training opportunities and restricted sphere of posting for Police women. Many of the Police regulatory documents are overtly discriminatory to female police officers. For example, Police Cap 121-123; Police Order No. 30 and FAI No 23 (under Enlistment; General Duties; and Miscellaneous Conditions of Service) states that Police Women shall (only) “be employed on duties which are connected with women and children;” Police Women recruited to General Duties Branch are restricted to clerical, telephone and office orderly duties; and they are disallowed from drilling under arms or taking part in baton or riot exercises. Female police officers are rarely allowed to head police operations. Furthermore, Force Order No 135 – (under Refresher Course Schools) states that Personnel attending refresher courses may be accompanied by their families … one wife, three children and one servant,” thus making no provision for the spouse of a police woman.

5. Marriage, Pregnancy and Child Birth - The Nigerian Police in its regulatory documents would appear to ignore or undervalue the strategic and national duty that a pregnant police woman performs in the course of bringing forth a new generation of Nigerians. This is because many of its regulations/conditions of service discriminate against women, and ignored the biological functions of child bearing and parenting. According to the Police Act. No.122-127; Police Order No.30; and Police Administrative Instructions No. 23, married women are disqualified from enlisting in the Police; a Police Woman who is single at the time of her enlistment must spend two (2) years in service before applying for permission to marry giving particulars of fiancé who must be investigated and cleared before permission for marriage is granted. This part says “an unmarried woman police officer who becomes pregnant shall be discharged from the police, and shall not be re-enlisted except with the approval of the Inspector-General;” while “a married Police woman shall not be granted any special privileges by reason of marriage and shall be subjected to posting as if she were unmarried.”

The above regulations of the Police Act were enacted in 1968, at a time when the societal attitude towards women in the workplace was very different from what it is today. This is more so as there is no rational justification for the imposition of these discriminatory provisions, since they do not in any manner promote the efficiency or discipline of the female’ police officer. Since a male police officer is not subjected to the same inhibitions, the current regulations are inconsistent. There is, therefore, a need to expunge the above regulations as it is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic State like Nigeria which has domesticated the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). That permission will be granted for the marriage if the intended husband is of good character and the woman police officer has served in the force for a period of not less than three years”.12 Given these provisions, and many others, there is perhaps no other agency that discriminates against women more than the Nigerian Police.

6. Dressing and Nomenclature – Discriminatory practices are recorded against the female police officers in the area of dressing and nomenclature. Section 128 of the Police Act over regulated the dressing of Police Women on duty to the extent that they are prohibited from wearing earrings and using face powder, lipstick or coloured nail varnish. Apart from this, Police Women are required to place the alphabet “W” before their rank and are given special kind of A/P numbers to easily identify them as women.

7. Welfare – The Police Act and Regulations contain discriminatory regulations regarding civilian spouses of Police Women. For instance, the Police women married to civilian husbands are disallowed from living in the Police Barracks. Also, the Force Order Nos. 201 and 203 (under Leave and Reliefs: Superior Officers), travel allowance was made only for accompanying „wife‟ and children while no reference was made to the ‘husband’ of the Police Woman.

Other Discriminatory Aspect of the Nigerian Police Regulations

Some of the other discriminatory areas as far as women police are concerned are

  • Compensation, Gratuity and Disability Pensions: provision was made for payment only to “wife” or “widow”. No reference to spouses (husbands)

  • Police women married to civilian husbands are disallowed from living in police barracks.

  • Travel allowance made only for accompanying ‘wife’ and children. No husbands.

  • According to rule 122, married women are disqualified from enlisting in the Police; a Police Woman who is single at the time of her enlistment must spend two (2) years in service before applying for permission to marry by giving the particulars of fiancé who must be investigated and cleared before permission for marriage is granted.

  • Section 125 of the police regulations states that “A married woman police officer shall not be granted any special privileges by reason of the fact that she is married and shall be subjected to posting and transfer as if she were unmarried”.

  • Section 126 of the Police Regulations provides that “A married woman police officer who is pregnant may be granted maternity leave in accordance with the provisions of general order (a federal government instruction that regulated the condition of public officials). However, an unmarried woman police officer who is pregnant shall be discharged from the force.

Generally, as we can see in the summary above, at present, the Police Regulations contain provisions that are discriminatory to women police officers. Examples are provisions that discriminate against women police officers by directly or indirectly excluding them from certain aspects or types of training, prohibiting them from getting married without written consent of their Commissioner of Police, and discharging of pregnant unmarried police officers etc. These provisions are in conflict with constitutional provisions against discrimination and section 135 of the Police Act, 2020 which prohibits gender discrimination. With the new Act, these provisions and other provisions such as Regulation 121 of the Police Regulations, which provides for certain general duties of women police officers e.g. investigation of sexual offences, presence where women or children are being interviewed by male officers etc. are now inconsistent with the Principal Act and would need to be deleted.

Policy Recommendations

Generally, this brief has examined some aspects of Nigerian laws that discriminate against women. Police Act, amongst others. It is instructive to note that the country will benefit by promoting gender sensitive legislations for Nigerian Police. In the light of this and findings of the main study, the following recommendations are proposed as framework and strategies for increasing the representation of, and eliminating discrimination against, women in the Nigerian Police:

  1. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be amended by the National Assembly to replace the word “he” with the phrase “a person” or “He and She.”

  1. In the light of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of women and Girls, which Nigeria is a party to, Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution should be reviewed by NASS to reduce marginalization of women in government appointment in the similar vein, Section 26(2)(a) should also be reviewed to accord citizenship rights to foreign men married to Nigerian women.

  1. The Police Regulations should also be reviewed (by the President as provided for in the new Act) with a view to eliminating the various discriminatory provisions on enlistment of married women, duties of policewomen; discharge of unmarried pregnant women; posting, training and use of firearms and dressing by policewomen.

  1. There should be statutory provisions or measures to accelerate the enlistment of women into the Police. The provision may include the introduction of pre-enlistment Cadet Corp in Secondary and Tertiary Institutions to attract female students into Nigerian Police.

  1. The syllabus of the police training institutions should include variety of subjects including discussions of gender relations, human rights, democratic governance and accountability, and rule of law.

Tinuade Ojo, Digital Inclusion and Gender; Priority for women empowerment

Digital Inclusion and Gender; Priority for women empowerment.

Tinuade Ojo

4IR and Digital Policy Research Unit (4DPRU) and Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation (IPATC), University of Johannesburg.


Box with a summary of key messages

The global pandemic has fostered a historic digital transition in the global economy. However, the transition in a digitalised society comes with the risk of increasing inequality. Despite a range of policies implemented by African states and the recent adoption of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), the gendered inequality of digital exclusion has been amplified. The paper highlights two SADC countries, South Africa and Botswana, and their preparedness for the technologies that enable the 4IR for women. Women in both countries are currently underrepresented in information technology due to inequality, gender stereotyping and discrimination.

Gender Digital Divide

The United Nations declared access to the internet a fundamental human right for everyone in 2016i (Omlinlit, 2017). However, there is still a gap and gender divide in the world population. Out of four billion people globally, less than 45% have access, and the remaining 55% lack accessii. Different factors lead to the gender divide; amongst many are the lack of infrastructure and the incapacity to purchase smart devices. Other factors include state government delays that hinder their constituents from internet access, of which women are part of the majority who lack accessiii. Women are part of the marginalised and disadvantaged group restricted by globalisation despite increasing internet accessiv. United Nations International Telecommunication Union Agency recorded that developed countries have internet penetration of 81% in developed economies and 40% in developing economies, and 15% in the least developed economiesv. Aside from these digital gaps in the global economies, the gender gap is also an issue of concern.


According to Omlinlit reportvi, Africa still has the most significant gender digital divide with 23% compared to the United States of America, which has a gender digital gap of 2%. The gender digital divide in Africa is caused by many factors, including socio-cultural gender roles limiting women’s active economic members. Other factors include poverty, illiteracy, and equal opportunities to access the internet and other ICT products. In addition, internet accessibility was also identified as a critical enabler in the fourth industrial revolutionvii.

Enabling digital accessibility for women has significantly impacted education, e-governance, and social and financial inclusion. It reduces the poverty rate, open access to price and product information, supply chain and development network, and adequate knowledge on wealth promotion and sustainable developmentviii. Despite this, the Web Foundation Women’s Rights Online argued that more than 50% of women are less likely to be digitally included than men in the marginalised regions in the global Southix. Digital illiteracy, age and low education are factors constraining women from digital access; most illiterate or semi-illiterate women and those of higher age are less likely to be internet savvyx. Moreover, even the few women who use digital skills are less likely to use the internet for economic stabilityxi. Unstable economy and load-shedding are all mitigating factors increasing the digital divide.

The study investigates two SADC countries, South Africa and Botswana, and their preparedness for the technologies that enable the 4IR for women. Situating the paper on inclusive development, the study discusses the significant socio-cultural norms restricting women’s digital access and the state’s efforts in implementing gender-sensitive IT policies. Despite the considerable contributions of prior research in this area, there is a lack of substantial studies that examine the relationship at the continental level between gender access to ICT and ICT usage on digital inclusion. The findings analysed the effectiveness of the countries’ approaches and shared lessons that African struggling economies can implement towards the  4IR. The results serve as a tool for countries to develop measures to provide citizens access to technological services that propel and enhance digital inclusion. The paper limits the factors of digital inclusion into three segments: digital financial inclusion, digital educational initiatives, and e-governance services. The study engages an exploratory qualitative research approach to present secondary data extracted from recent interviews with critical policymakers in South Africa and Bostwana. The choice of case studies is that the two countries are part of the leading economies within the continent on the implementation of digital policies. The findings present the effectiveness of the countries’ approaches and lessons that African struggling economies have towards the  4IR and analyse how digitalisation can foster gender equality in the labour market. In addition, the study adopts secondary data from Afrobarometer to support its findings. The paper concludes that enforcing digital equity is essential for gender equality.

Digital Inclusion Factors

The impact of the gender digital divide in African societies, especially SADC, is versed. Many scholars have attested that it limits women and girls from becoming active economic players. Women can neither speak nor campaign on issues affecting them. Also, they are unable to function appropriately in a digitalised economy. The following section analyses the importance of digital inclusion within three themes: digital financial inclusion, digital inclusion in education and e-Governance.

  • Digital Financial Inclusion

Digital financial inclusion is essential in achieving women’s economic empowerment in any economyxii. Digital financial inclusion as part of the fourth industrial revolution represents a significant shift in our daily livelihoods, promoting human and technology development. Global institutions have tried to build an inclusive digital payment infrastructure with African statesxiii. Mobile Money was an example of these infrastructures that transformed the phase of digital financial inclusion for women. It allowed even the women in the rural area to make financial transactions without opening accounts. However, despite all the policies implemented by African states, and the current adoption of the fourth industrial revolution, the women’s challenges to accessibility on digital financial inclusion seem amplifiedxiv.

Empirical studies have stated the improvement of financial inclusion in different economies across the African continent. Innovative packages such as new fintech services improved the state of financial inclusion in Africa. These fintech solutions have alleviated poverty and promoted economic inclusion. Women’s financial inclusion has been increased based on the following fintech solutions; mobile phone to access an account, payments and withdrawal of digital payments, online transactions, ATMs, amongst manyxv. The summaries below presents the current state of digital financial inclusion for women in SADC economies.

Digital financial inclusion aggregate – SADC countries Source: Hopexvi:

Botswana, Tanzania are the leading economies in SADC with a 9% representation of digital financial inclusion for women. While South Africa and Madagascar have a long way to improve digital financial inclusion services. Lesotho is even behind all countries with a -4% rank on digital financial inclusion. The results reflect the SADC’s responses to digital financial inclusion and the current state. Hootsuitexvii presented the situation analysis stated that the South African population is 59.67 million; out of this, 50.7% is female while 49.3% is male. 67.6% live in urban areas, and 32,4% live in rural areas, of which the majority are women who belong to the poor and disadvantaged group. The figure reflects financial inclusion factors in South Africaxviii.

Digital Financial Inclusion in South Africa Source: Kempxix

38.19 million are internet users standing at 64% population. However, only 11.6% of women in SA use online transactions compared to 16.8% of men, which is still relatively lowxx. Nevertheless, this is a slight increase from the 2017 results presented in figure 1. From the SAIIA report, 5% are women in ICTs, 22% of graduates are women, and only 2.9% get IT jobs in South Africaxxi.

Digital Financial Inclusion in Botswana Source: Kempxxii

Out of the whole population, only 6.9% of women are making online transactions compared to 14.8% of men on digital finance. Thus, the results show that even though the country has over 51% of the population with bank accounts, digital financial inclusion is still below expected.

  • Digital Inclusion in Education

The pandemic forced the educational sector to embrace digitalisation without proper preparation and professional technical know-how. As a result, each country’s educational sector has to implement initiatives to ensure students are not left out. Botswana, as an example, collaborated with the Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Local Government and rural development to initiate digital schools’ scheme from 2020 to 2022xxiii. The aim is to ensure equal educational infrastructures and bridge the digital divide in the educational sector. The system leverages education access for the rural and remote regions, thereby promoting sustainable digital inclusion. The scheme further empowers children and facilitates digital literacy, giving tools and resources to engage with the 4th Industrial revolutionxxiv. The efforts made have enabled better educational services and digital financial access in the country. South Africa responded more positively, enforcing the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) to allocate temporary spectrum to major mobile networksxxv. The initiative encouraged easy access during a pandemic, constrained data price hike by mobile network operators and provided access to a zero-rated USSD line to report infections and critical access information. In addition, the primary and higher education sectors were provided with free internet access to enable the poor and marginalised students to continue with their educational facilities. However, similarly to other countries above, South Africa is still deficient in the gender digital divide, although its overall promotion of ICT access might be a step in the right directionxxvi.

Even though most of these states have noted the importance of digital access, few states have adopted its measures. The gender digital exclusion has mainly been ignored, creating a continued bridge for discrimination and harm. Most importantly, the gender digital divide leaves millions of women offline. Feminist internet rights and freedoms are becoming more critical now than ever, considering the significant shift in human livelihoods. Internet access is necessary and not a luxury to gain access to information in all disciplines, such as the educational, business, health care, and public sectors.

  • e-governance

The government is expected to play the leading role in creating e-government tools that are gender-sensitive, easy and provide accessible services to the populacexxvii. First, as the word translates to digitalisation, e-governance must address how state capability can promote women’s empowerment and gender equality policiesxxviii. Secondly, e-governance must invigorate the government’s institution’s responsiveness to women’s needs and interests and build gender-sensitive accountability mechanisms.

According to Hijab and Zambranoxxix, women in the poor and marginalised regions find it challenging to access e-governance applications denying their fundamental rights in accessing such podiums. According to Stoiciuxxx, e-governance, aside from being a key to the digital divide, can also ensure affordable broadband access. Since African states have to provide equal opportunities for digitalisation, the government needs to take the lead in e-governance. E-governance in Botswana and South Africa have improved proficiently since the emergence of Covid-19. Along with their African counterparts, both countries have adopted ICTs in their governance systems to solve administrative and political challenges.

Botswana and South Africa’s e-Government Strategies has a noble vision of inclusivity and looking beyond service delivery; however, improving democratic participation remains a challenge. Achieving inclusivity and democratic participation through digitalisation remains a challenge due to the digital divide favouring the educated populace over the marginalised individuals. The government needs to improve access to electricity and other ICT services and provide public ICT education to strengthen and broaden internet access. This can be done by engaging in international, national, and regional cooperation and harmonising all ICT legal frameworks and regulations. E-governance can also be achieved if the government establishes effective interconnected and interoperable e-services. Educating the population who are technology illiterate in the rural communities and preparing them for technology readiness is very important. For efficiency, the government should run e-pilot services to ensure proper accessibility.

As mentioned earlier, empowering women on digital financial inclusion, education and having gender-sensitive e-governance services are crucial aspects applicable to the future economic empowerment of both countries. The pandemic has reflected the widening gap in these critical factors necessary to attaining future women’s empowerment. Women must be empowered in these crucial sectors as it sets the pace for the future. Digital financial inclusion is essential for women’s economic empowerment; women and girls must be educated and empowered to have accessibility in ICT, especially in STEM educational sectors. Lastly, the two countries need to ensure gender inclusivity in e-governance systems, especially for the women in the rural regions. Taking prompt action to these three factors will enhance an inclusive and sustainable society.


For women to be technologically empowered, opportunities, safe infrastructures and better flexible ways of working must be set in place for successful inclusion. Other strategies include,

  • Gender discriminations, exploitations for women and gender-based violence must be addressed for a sustainable digitalised society.

  • All states should implement laws, policies, capacity training, job safety, freedom from gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination.

  • Effective collaboration between Government and e-governance tools serves as leading actors in bridging the gap on digital divide amongst all citizens.

  • African states, especially the developing countries, should request support from international constituencies on better ICT applications on e-governance and financial support.

  • Other initiatives include using new media technologies and social networks to promote e-inclusion and e-participation in governmental services.

  • Enforcing gender digital equity is needed as it paves the way for the future. Both South Africa and Botswana have strived to attain this. Essential strategies and lessons have been highlighted for African struggling economies.

References and further reading

Omosefe Oyekanmi, Horizontal Inequality and Peace Building in Post-Conflict

Horizontal Inequality and Peace Building in Post-Conflict

Political and Governance Policy Department, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, Nigeria



  1. Côte d’Ivoire plunged into violent civil wars (2002 and 2010), after long political stability and economic progress,

  1. The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOIC), established six residual functions in 2004, to promote the peacebuilding process in Ivory Coast in other to sustain peace and avoid the event of conflict relapse.

  1. The cause of the Ivorian conflict is multi-dimensional, having economic and social influences, but motivated mainly by the political dimension.

  1. The conflict was exacerbated by the political effect on the already divided Northern and Southern region

  1. Major programmes like Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) which are focal points of the peacebuilding process were skewed and inconclusive, thereby limiting the entire peace process

  1. The peacebuilding process in Cote d’Ivoire, emphasized more on reconciliation at the level of the citizenry (horizontal relations) with less attention at the national level. Inferring that social cohesion as a major form of unifying horizontal groups was not only incomplete, but watered down.

Peacebuilding and, Horizontal Inequality

Peace Building

Peace building is a component of conflict resolution endeared with the task of conflict prevention. It came into widespread use after 1992 when Boutros Ghali announced his agenda for peace (Boutros Ghali, 1992). Peacebuilding involves a full range of approaches, processes, and stages needed for change towards more sustainable peaceful relationships modes and structures. (Morris, 2000).

Horizontal inequality

This involves the socio-economic and political dimensions which are multi-dimensional (Langer & Smedts, 2013). This means that the political dimension of horizontal inequality encompasses group distribution and control of political opportunities and power, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where most governments are more powerful than the state.


In most war-torn states of Africa and Latin America, conflicts are majorly influenced by the existing group inequalities. These inequalities are further entrenched not only by the variations of ethnicity and religion, especially in a multi-dimensional state structure but by the economic disparities and deprivations created by political actors along ethnic and religious lines. This has been the bane of most conflicts in the developing states of Africa. Horizontal inequalities between the North and the South in Côte d’Ivoire spurred two civil wars and devastating consequences. In other to sustain the peace and avoid the event of a conflict relapse, the United Nations waded in to promote the peacebuilding process in Ivory Coast. Given the importance of peacebuilding in sustaining international peace and promoting development, the study which identified the root causes of the conflict, and the effect of social cohesion in promoting peace in Côte d’Ivoire analyzed the policy framework of peacebuilding in Côte d’Ivoire. It examined the stakeholders involved in the peace process, their level of involvement in the reconciliation process and programmes on social cohesion. Considering that the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire which is a reflection of a fragmented state, poor governance, ethnic rivalry, post electoral violence, corruption, seat tight syndrome and general underdevelopment, captures the make-up of conflicts in other West Africa countries. In essence, this research is very important in understanding the essentialities hidden in peace building, in constructing a platform for West African development.

Key Messages

  • Pre-Conflict and Conflict Period

From the 60s, under Houphouet-Boigny’s reign (the first President of Côte d’Ivoire), his philosophy was crafted in globalization, with attention captured on individualism over citizenship, what Khodjo (1996: 82) refers to “Houphouetian vision”. Through his emphasis on individualism, he was able to promote pro-western liberal policies and expand infrastructural development. Thus, the economic success and pragmatic course of the president sowed the seeds of the Ivorian miracle of the 80s that attracted the influx of immigrants across West Africa into Côte d’Ivoire for greener pasture. Notably, without petroleum products, Côte d’Ivoire had one of the highest per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average real GDP growth rate of seven percent between 1960-1980. However, this track record was not to be sustained, as the falling price of cash crops and the complexities waning the liberal land ownership laws between the allogenes (foreigners) and autochthones (indigenes) dwarfed existing harmony.

The drop in the demand for tropical products in the mid-70s resulted in cutbacks of more than two-thirds in the economic growth rate by the early 80s. This reflected in spiking rise in unemployment, heavy debt burden, accrued in the lean years, and the offshoot of political challenges since independence. In 1989, the Houphouët-Boigny government was forced to accept dramatic measures such as the halving of cocoa (the mainstay of the Ivorian economy) and coffee prices paid to producers as well as the abandoning of the price guarantee system. As soon as economic growth dwindled, the skillful management of the country’s socio-political balance became loose. With the price of cocoa decreasing, multiple cleavages arose to degrade the unquestioned paternal authoritarianism that had unified many tribes and groups for almost three decades. According to Akinde (2003), the leadership of the first president entailed a ‘model of compromise’ which became porous at the event of his death in 1993. In effect Houphouet-Boigny’s demise, revealed the fragility in the politics and administration of Côte d’Ivoire. Hence, his death in 1993, cascaded the country into deeply divided ethnic and religious inequalities. With elections in sight, nationalism and ethnic affiliation became a legitimate instrument for pushing politics. The political contest between the main political actors (Alassane Quattara of Northern extraction, Laurent Gbagbo, and Henry Konan Bedie of Southern origin) created a series of identity crises which at different accounts dichotomized the country into group inequalities. For instance, ‘Ivorite’ a neologism was used as an identity clause for rallying political support among disenchanted southern citizens, who blamed foreigners for taking their jobs away and worsening their living conditions. These trajectories entrenched the divisions between the north and the south that birthed the two violent conflicts, which ushered in the United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOIC).

  • Root Cause (s) of The Conflict

The Ivorian conflict has taken different dimensions considering the political, economic and social nature of the conflict. No doubt, the conflict has demonstrated its political, economic and social coloration in several ways. These include issues of identity, unemployment, the Ivorian political dynamics, division among politicians, ethnicity, unequal access to power, failed promises, military incursion in politics, external and internal causes, marginalization of the north, issues of succession and rebel factions. Nonetheless, all other cause or causes of the conflict was exacerbated by the political dimension played by political actors in other to gain control of state resources.

According to a respondent from Baoule (South) there is misleading notion on the cause of the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. He states that:

There is a misperceived cause of the conflict as a dichotomy between the north and south which was considered an artificial cause. The population was manipulated in order to achieve political goals. And the conflicts that we have in Côte d’Ivoire here, the causes are political.1

Assuaging to the political nature as a cause of the Ivorian conflict, a respondent from Malinke (North)2 affirms that:

The division of the north and south was not the cause of the conflict. It was political. The entire conflict started with Gbagbo. Gbagbo was in power and he was at the end of his term in office and an election was conducted. He lost the election but he refused to honor the fact that he lost the election. This was what brought about the conflict because if you lose an election, you have to accept the fact that you lost. He did not accept that he lost

Similarly, a group of respondents of Baoule origin also affirms the northern position, that there is peaceful co-existence amongst the ethnic groups in Côte d’Ivoire but often marred by political influence. It was revealed that the country is generally stable but the activities of politicians has remained the sole reason for divisions and violent conflict. As such, politicians have been accused of causing tensions and heating up the polity as they remain significant towards instigating the Ivorian conflict3.

In another interview, it was revealed that conflict was politically motivated using several strategies such as ethnic and western influence to maintain political power4. The inequalities created by ethnic disparities further expresses the political dimension of the root cause of the Ivorian conflict. While the south held tenaciously to power considering it as a birthright, the north felt disenfranchised and alienated from power.

  • United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOIC).

UNSC resolution 1528 came into force on February 27, 2004 birthing the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) which was established to facilitate the implementation of the peace agreements and see to the end of the civil war (UN, n.d). With six residual functions, it was created as a full-fledged multi-dimensional peacekeeping force in 2004 (Novossollef, 2018), and entered its second phase in 2010 after the disputed 2010 elections. The ascension of Quattara into power in 2011, heralded the third phase and by 2013, the operation began to drawback and finally exited in 2017. Using the DDR process which forms a significant hold in the Ivorian peacebuilding process as a case in point, it shows that the process lacked the inclusivity of civil society organizations, coordinating groups and implementation committees, traditional rulers, and local re-integration mechanics. Hence the program was not only headed by the government, but its vision and road map did not present an outlook for the people (Ehlert, 2017). The Ivorian DDR suffered major challenges, which adversely affects the peacebuilding process. From the UN realm, a respondent state that, the peacebuilding process was not complete even though the government claims the process has been completed. According to her:

I think there is a consensus that the process was not completed. Of course the government doesn’t want to hear about it but the government keeps on saying that the DDR process is complete, but it is not true. We still have weapons stashed in several places especially in the west, in Man and Deukou, there are a lot of weapons stashed, you still have combatants with the weapons in several areas, some of them are still active, in several operations alongside the national security forces. So the DDR process was not really completed and of course that, became pretty obvious as you said during inter-community conflict, with the high number of fatalities we understood that there were a lots of weapons involved it wasn’t a portion of burning a few huts or you know damaging here and there, they were actually automatic weapons used to kill individuals.5

Another respondent described the unwholesome system that broke down the DDR process. She states thus:

At the beginning, it was a success. People came out and dropped guns, but now, in the western region, those who were dropping weapons were given 800,000 CFA. This was given as a form of compensation. There was no follow-up but after giving money to ex-combatant. Some of them were broken into groups so that they can have more money and other economic activities. There was no follow-up to see if it was effective. So, some of them spent the money and just buy things they think they need6

Accordingly, the DDR structure which was a pivotal point of the peacebuilding in Cote d’Ivoire, was inadequate to deliver the gains of sustainable peace.

  • Bridging the Inequality Gap between the North and the South through Social Cohesion

In this study, horizontal inequality a subpart of social cohesion (OECD, 2014), was the unit of analysis for assessing the inequality between northern and southern Cote d’Ivoire in other to establish the basis for examining the peacebuilding process in Cote d’Ivoire. To achieve positive peace, a major process involves the promotion of social cohesion, where members of the society once again begins to recognize each other as fellow human beings and begin to share a concern in the common welfare and wellbeing of each other.

Considering the build-up to the conflicts, there are four major impediments barring the successful cohesion between groups in Côte d’Ivoire. They include, the feeling of inequality regarding the economic opportunities of outsiders (allochtones/allogènes) versus those of locals (autochtones), unavailable opportunity for a better future for young people in their local arears, the crises of legitimacy faced by local chiefs between being questioned by youths and dealing with external power relations and lastly, the absence of a culture of civic engagement (Interpeace, 2018). Adding to the poor state of social cohesion in the country, there is drive towards ethnicity since Alassane Ouattara came to power with the new catch phrase ‘Rattrapage’ –meaning, catching up, as a dominating force in every facet of country’s institution. Accordingly, there remains horizontal inequality between the north and south in Ivory Coast, as the new concept of ‘Rattrapage’, which secludes a portion of the state and favours the north is a reflection of the concept of ‘Ivorite which concretized the division that birthed the two civil wars in 2002 and 2010. However, a respondent from Malinke, a northern part of Côte d’Ivoire, takes a divergent viewpoint on the controversial idea of ‘Rattrapage’. For him, this is a positive effect of social cohesion where the north begins to enjoy what it has been deprived of for decades. According to him:

From 1960, the North was marginalized… but now we are talking about the issue of catching up, we can say that 30% have been done in the North. At the beginning, it was very difficult for people to get access to schools. They were only located in cities but now everybody is having access to school and they are going to school everywhere. This have been done. 30% have been done 7

Similarly, the nature of the present state of reconciliation is a critical aspect of defining social cohesion in promoting peace in Côte d’Ivoire. The reconciliation process is the most important action to take, without it peace is not sustainable. A respondent from the UN8 claims that government’s focus was on elections and not involving the people on what may happen after the elections. As such, the minds of the population were not prepared towards social cohesion. Conclusively, while reconciliation at the local level may appear positive, the reconciliation at the national level lingered on till July 2021, when the three big political gladiators publicly reconciled.


The study recommends that any peace process in Côte d’Ivoire or Africa must be context specific, taking account of the peculiarities in the region. Every region and community has its peculiarities, uniqueness and dynamics. Some ideas of Peacebuilding were imported into Côte d’Ivoire during the various peace agreements that failed. This points to the fact that some Peacebuilding ideas may work in certain countries and similar idea will fail in another community where contextual peculiarities have not been adequately considered. It is suggested that a holistic truth and reconciliation process be kick-started immediately in other to preserve the peace process initiated by the United Nation. These must be a combination of well-trained personnel who are able to understand local dynamics and the peculiarities of Peacebuilding.


Boutros-Ghali, B. (1992). An agenda for peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping. International Relations, 11(3), 201-218.

Ehlert. F (October 4, 2017. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in Cot d’ Ivoire: Lessons identified for security sector reforms. Retrieved on March, 25, 2021 from

Interpeace (February, 19 2018). An immersion into social cohesion dynamics in the West of Côte d’Ivoire. Retrieved on March 29, 2021 from

Khodjo. L (1996). In Akindès, F. (2003). Côte d'Ivoire: Socio-political Crises,‘Ivoirité'and the Course of History. African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine de Sociologie, 7(2), 11-28.

Langer, A., & Smedts, K. (2013). Seeing is not believing: perceptions of horizontal inequalities in Africa. Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD) Working Paper, 16.

Morris. C (2000) In Hamber, B., & Kelly, G. (2004). A working definition of reconciliation. Democratic Dialogue. Retrieved December 15, 2021 from

Novosseloff, A. (2018). The many lives of a peacekeeping mission: The UN operation in Côte d’Ivoire. Available at SSRN 3261285.

OECD Dev Week (2014). OECD Social Cohesion Policy Reviews. Retrieved on November 20, 2020 from

UN (n.d). Security Council establishes Peacekeeping Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, unanimously adopting resolution 1528 (2004). Retrieved February 12, 2020 from

Agunbiade Oyunsola, Political Actors and the challenges of Peace-building in Côte d’Ivoire

Political Actors and the challenges of Peace-building in Côte d’Ivoire

Basic concepts

  1. Political actors

Who are the primary and secondary actors in the conflict, including spoilers, peacemakers and others? Actors are parties to the conflict, with some measure of involvement either directly or indirectly. These actors could be primary actors or secondary actors while in some cases they could present themselves as shadow parties as the case may be. Political actors within the context of this study can be regarded as parties to the conflict with major or minor influence over who gets what, when and how in the course of the conflict.

  1. Peace building

Peace-building is a post cold war concept and practice. The term first appeared in the 1992 report An Agenda for Peace, in which UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali defined it broadly as “action to identify and support structures which tend to strengthen and solidify peace to avoid a relapse into conflict”. Peace-building builds on the assumption that The introduction of peace building as a legitimate area for UN attention reflected post-cold war optimism about the potential for international collective action to resolve violent conflict among and within states. 


Many of today’s large-scale violent conflicts cannot be perceived as conventional ‘wars’ any longer. Neither are they clashes between states, nor are the conventional civil wars between a state government and an internal armed political opposition aimed at the overthrow of that government or secession. Rather, they are characterized by an entanglement of a host of actors, issues and motives (Kaldor 1999; Duffield 2001; Muenkler 2002).

However, these scholarly works pays little attention to the classification of such actors, neither were they identified within the context of the challenges of peace-building in conflict situations.   

The resurgence of violent conflicts in recent years has caused severe human suffering, at enormous social and economic cost. Violent conflicts today have become complex and protracted, involving more non-state groups, regional and international actors (United Nations; World Bank, 2018). The origin of the Ivorian conflict has been characterized by several actors at different times in the history of the country. The quest and tussle for power, issues of identity, rights over land ownership, ethnicity, and military incursion into politics, amidst others formed the bane and basis of the Ivorian conflict.

Therefore, the study explored political actors and how they have contributed to the conflict as well as the challenges of peace-building in Cote d’Ivoire. This study identified both internal and external political actors as well as activities towards peace-building and the challenges of peace-building within the Ivorian conflict. Primarily, content analysis as a method of data analysis was used in analyzing data collected for the purpose of this study. This is premised on the source of data which relied majorly but not limited to written text, interviews and online sources.

A crisis with multiple root causes

In Robert Kaplan’s (1994) famous article, ‘The coming Anarchy’, it refers to West Africa as “a natural point of departure for my report on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in the twenty first century” (Kaplan 1994). In his argument, he stressed that “Cote d’Ivoire, once a model of Third World success, is becoming a case study in Third World catastrophe” (Kaplan, 1994). Côte d’Ivoire was once referred to as the Oasis of stability while other African nations became emerged in political tumor, violent conflicts and military coups. While other West African states battled with issues of military incursion in politics, drastic tussle for leadership, Côte d’Ivoire was described as an Oasis of stability. The demise of the first President, Felix Houphet Biogny showcased the economic and political lapses in the Ivory Coast.

Mr. Comoe described the Ivorian peace process as a concept not entirely alien to Côte d’Ivoire, but became unpopular after the death of the first president. He states as follow;

Normally we should not talk about Peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. Just like the former president ,Felix Houphet Biogny said, peace is the religion of Côte d’Ivoire. Because to be able to settle with peace and call for discipline, unity and urge people to work. Every time in Former President Felix Houphet Biogny’s speech, He will talk about peace. Former President Felix Houphet Biogny said peace is a behavior, but when he died, the quest for peace ended. Everyone was self-seeking and selfish hereby fostering disunity in the polity. Thinking of the narrative, all those people in his own party became dis-United. People started to fight for the power (Interview with Mr. Comoe Achile, at Khorogo, Côte d’Ivoire, 20th January 2020).

Stewart (2002) asserts that where there are social, economic and political inequalities, “coinciding with cultural differences, culture could become a powerful mobilizing agent” that could lead to political violence (Stewart 2002). These lapses were not obvious due to the leadership qualities of the first president who operated the ‘Houphetist’ ideology of negotiation, reward and compensation. He believed whoever worked the land, owns the land. Stewart, in order to proffer better clarification, did not only argue that the existence of severe inequalities between culturally defined groups, which she calls “horizontal inequalities”, might cause different forms of political disturbances, including civil war, she also stressed that this kind of inequality is different from the ‘normal’ definition of inequality (Stewart 2000). Social, economic and political inequality within the context of this study is a veritable tool and source of conflict.

According to Stewart (2002), unequal access to political, economic and social resources by different cultural groups can reduce individual welfare of individuals in the loosing group over and above what their individual position would merit, because their self-esteem is bound up with the progress of the group. Stewart (2002) went further that the greater consequence is the argument that where there are such inequalities in resource access and outcomes, coinciding with cultural differences, culture can become a powerful mobilizing agent that can lead to a range of political disturbance. The Ivorian crises has been linked with issues of relating to tussle of leadership, land ownership, identify conflict as pronounced in the controversial ‘ivorite’ clause included in the constitution by former President Henry Konan Bedie etc.

Political actors in Cote d’Ivoire conflict

In every society, there are several sectors making up the entire system of such society, where the political system is not an exception. Stakeholders who determine the direction of political activities in a country can be regarded as the political actors. Politics is all about vested interest and how such interests are achieved. Political actors could be individuals, group of individuals, organizations, political parties and counties who have vested interest in the authoritative allocation of values or who gets ‘what, when and how’. For clarity in nomenclature, political actors in a country have nothing to do with gender where men and women have taken over the mantle of leadership.

Bernard (2009) asserts that the key actors in the Ivorian conflict are the government and two rebel parties. Furthermore, Alexander (2018) further identified other actors in the Ivorian conflict such as ECOWAS, AU, UN, and FRANCE due to the critical role played while the conflict lasted. According to Mr. Wanyou, ECOWAS early warning response coordinator, he stressed the significant role played by ECOWAS in the Ivorian conflict. He further describes the role of ECOWAS;

ECOWAS took the lead in the various agreement. When there is a crisis, they always choose a mediator. The three Accra agreement didn’t end until they went to Lina marcossis, where a peace process took place. The African Union also helped and later the Ouagodougou took place which led to the elections. ECOWAS has played a big role (Interview with Mr. Wanyou, Cocody, Abidjan, 21st January 2020).

The Ivorian government was regarded as strongly southern-ethnocentric, representative of the Baoule and Bete ethnic groups, and with a strong emphasis on what is popularly known as ‘Ivorite’or ‘pure-Ivorian-ness’ (Bernard, 2009).  The political issue at the heart of the conflict is a constitutional one. Within the ambit of the constitution, the president should be a ‘pure Ivorian’, in that the percentage of the presidential candidate should be full-blood Ivorian without a mix from other countries, such as from its Burkina Faso or Mali neighbors. The ethno-economic connection is central to understanding the Ivorian conflict. Northern Cote d’Ivoire is underdeveloped and its people live in abject poverty and have limited income-earning opportunities and access to social services (Bernard, 2009). Sandrine Mesple-Somps (2008) argues that the northern Ivorian suffers from stark income inequality. The consequence imposed by being born to a northern farmer, the most common occupation, is an income well below that of southerners (Sandrine 2008, Quoted in Bernard, 2009).  

According to Mesplé-Somps (2008):

Non-egalitarian public policies have been implemented since the colonial

period to nowadays: farmers are used to finance [a] public budget that [is]

almost [all] spent to finance urban facilities (much more in Abidjan than in

other towns). Dualism against agriculture has been coupled with an unequal

access to education. [Both these] elements induce low intergenerational

mobility that reinforces inequality of opportunity.

This aspect of structurally induced inequality of opportunities has continually drawn the ire of the educated Ivorian northerners, mostly from the army and academics, as this quote from Soro illustrates:

If you are from the North, you are subhuman, according to the government.

We want a united Côte d’Ivoire. We want a country that lives in harmony

and includes everyone. (Bernard, 2009).

The conflict in Cote d’Ivoire took such a magnitude due to its internal and external political actors who played certain roles at different points in time. Critical steps has been taken in this paper to understand the political actors in Cote d’Ivoire whereas the absence of such will give little or no meaning to understanding the Ivorian conflict. The political actors in the Ivorian conflict have been predominantly of three categories, viz; Primary actors, Secondary actors as well as Shadow parties (actors).

The interest of political actors plays a major role in the conflict. Behind every actor in the Ivorian conflict is an interest as well as a motive to be achieved.  Central is the interest of the political parties, Laurent Gbagbo, Allassane Quattara, the international community, the United States, France amidst other key political actors. Among the actors in the Ivorian conflict features the military and ex-combatants. In an interview with Mr. Comoe Achile, he stressed that ex-combatants were absorbed into the military while they were given financial benefits to start up a social life. This became difficult and quite challenging. He further stressed that;

When you say we cannot absolve all the armed men, this is not the reality because westerners knew that we just came out of a war situation, they gave much money just to deal with the problems after war. But you know that for example a guy who took a weapon and when he was for instance a rebel, he could take by force money from people, some of them even took houses of some of the citizen and they would not pay rent and food and one day there is peace, you should give the house back, you can no longer force someone to take his money. This creates another problem. You come and say we want to give you for instance 100,000 and this is all. The guy will come again and just try if he can get something from you again. This is the case. And they are ready to fight. (Interview with Mr. Comoe Achile, at Khorogo, Côte d’Ivoire, 20th January 2020)

Ex-combatants posed serious challenge to the peace building process while they remain significant actors. It was also stressed that some former warlords maintain their former territory as it obtains during the war and rebellion. They have been seen to contribute and determine substantially to education, security and local management in the spheres of influence. This clearly portrays a red flag in successful Peacebuilding and peace process.

Peace-building in Cote d’Ivoire 

Peace-building revolves around policies, programs, and efforts to restore stability and effectiveness of social, political, and economic institutions and structures in the wake of a war or some other debilitating or catastrophic event.  Peace-building generally aims to create and ensure the conditions of ‘negative peace’ which is the mere absence of violent conflict engagement, and for ‘positive peace’, a more comprehensive understanding related to the institutionalism of justice and freedom. That there exist a connection between security and development is an acceptable tenet in peace-building, and the implications of this mutually reinforcing relationship are extensive. Peace-building involves a wide range of international donors, aid agencies, and international, regional, community, and grassroots civil society organizations.

France has played a major role in the Ivorian conflict as a mediator and facilitator of various measures and agreements that took place in or efforts to restore peace. In an interview with William Sateby, a former member of the Assembly Nationale, he states as follows:

If our country is said to be free, French policy is very hard here and we are like a country which is a part of France. We continue to live as a part of France, until now. President Gbagbo tried to break this bonds and set the country free from France, that was why war started. From 2002-2011 for eleven years, we had war. This time has been very hard for our country. I was a member of the parliament, we had several peace process, Accra, 1,2,3, Pretoria, Linas Marcossi, etc ? We also went to Nigeria in Abuja for peace process during President Goodluck Jonathan. This were measures to help Ivory Coast to find peace. But French government are still in controls of all the processes to find peace in Côte d’Ivoire. They (French government) don’t deny the fact that president Gbagbo is not wanted as President in Côte d’Ivoire. For them, Gbagbo is the man who doesn’t take cognizance of the French interest. Gbagbo does not recognize French interest but Ivorian interest. Water, electricity, is managed by France. The airports and seaports is managed by France. Up till now, the French military base, Karam truasem Bima, is located in Pubway, Côte d’Ivoire. The network, Orange is managed by France. The core of economic activities in Côte d’Ivoire is managed by France. With situations like this, the country cannot be said to be free. Former president Gbagbo wants to build the county, but France doesn’t want that (Interview at Atoban Transient, Côte d’Ivoire, 17th January 2020).

The persistence of intra-state and civil conflicts in different regions, the breakdown of peace and processes, the relapse of a number of countries into violent conflict, and the emergence of new conflicts ensure that the demand for post-conflict Peace-building will continue in the coming years and decades-despite its multiple shortcomings and weaknesses. Against this background, peace-building in Cote d’Ivoire becomes very imperative.  

To reconcile and unite people that not so long ago regarded each other as enemies, requires time and a concerted effort. This fact was reiterated by the Special Court of Sierra Leone, too:

The peace-building and reconciliation process is not finished when people peacefully co-exist. Reconciliation needs to go further: people need to understand that the only future they have is a common one and that the only way forward towards development is by working together. Working together requires more than tolerance and respect. It requires consultation, debate and agreement, an understanding of the fact that common interests can be in conflict with personal interests and that cooperation requires compromise. (Bernard, 2009).

Challenges of peace-building in Cote d’Ivoire

In 2005 the impasse in the battle over the eligibility of the presidential candidates in Côte d’Ivoire brought the peace process there to a grinding halt and resulted in a nearly three-year ‘no peace, no war’ stalemate. Fresh violence was prompted by the failure to hold elections in October owing to the intransigence of the factions on issues relating to citizenship, voting rights and land ownership and also because of the subsequent decision by the AU to extend the term of the transitional president, Laurent Gbagbo, by a year. The stalled implementation of the 2004 Accra III Agreement not only hampered the ability of UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire to carry out its mandated tasks but also threatened the already fragile stability in the region (Sharon, 2004). By the end of the year, the severity of the situation led UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to call for a sharp increase in the number of United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) troops in order to allow the mission to ‘react robustly’ if necessary.

Relapse into armed conflict, sporadic political violence and public disorder were persistent challenges for peace operations deploying to civil conflicts. These challenges led to increased emphasis on the need for an earlier start to peace-building activities to provide incentives to commit to peace as well as to build confidence in its potential durability among post-conflict populations.

Peace-building presents substantial challenges for peace operations, whether UN or non-UN, in both the magnitude of the project and its legitimacy. This does not neglect the impact of Peacebuilding on the Ivorian population having the highest effect of conflict. It must be noted that, unless Peacebuilding factors in the people affected by the conflict, it is unnecessarily top-down, and elitist approach as it does not address the root causes. It therefore exacerbates rather than mitigate conflicts. Pouring money into a conflict zone for western experts and their local surrogates for purposes of elite-packing is not the panacea.

Camara Emily posits that Peacebuilding has been successful to an extent in Côte d’Ivoire. She further reiterates:

Peacebuilding has been effective, we cant say at 100%, but it has been helpful. In one way or the other. At that time, when there was conflict, division existed, but today when conflict happens, they seat at the table and discuss.

The problem between communities is not a deep problem, but the politicians try to use the people as a machinery and tool to get power. The politicians manipulate the people and this brings real conflict. Otherwise, it’s not a problem at all. (interview with Camara Emily, WANEP, 19th January 2020).

1. The magnitude of peace-building task:

The magnitude of the task requires priorities in peace-building this indeed is a challenge facing the peacebuilding process in Cote d’Ivoire. A fair degree of consensus has emerged in the past few years on the tasks to be accomplished, and there is some agreement on the order in which they should be tackled. This order is based on the idea of a hierarchy of political goods provided by the state. The hierarchy of political good in Cote d’Ivoire is to a large extent determined by the political priorities of the government. This gives the political dimension of the peacebuilding process. The first and prime function of the state is to provide security and, correspondingly, the first priority of post-conflict peace-building is to re-establish it.  

The second priority area is the establishment of functioning law and order within the society. The current emphasis on the importance of the rule of law for post-conflict peace-building reflects the lessons from peace operations in the past decade that economic reconstruction and social rehabilitation cannot proceed without legal and administrative structures and mechanisms in place. Taking a look at Cote d’Ivoire, it depicts a country that has seen the trauma of civil war and the damaging effect of violent conflict. The domestic focus of peace-building tends to make it an introspective process. Experiences over the past decade, however, have demonstrated the importance of regional dynamics for post-conflict peace-building. The tasks of multilateral peace operations are influenced to a significant degree by the politics and actions of neighboring states.These are some of the challenges facing the peacebuilding process in Cote d’Ivoire. 

2. The peace-building time frame:

Similarly, the magnitude of peace-building is complicated by the time frame in which it is undertaken. Peace-building attempts to compress into a few years evolutions that have taken centuries. The limited duration of most international peace operations is a particular problem for effective peace-building. If the process is too short, the risk of a return to conflict is high. In such situations, hasty decisions may have been made. Haiti’s relapse into conflict in 2004, after six peace missions over the past 10 years, is the most potent illustration of the dangers of the international community departing before post-conflict state structures and processes are sufficiently stable and durable to provide public security, welfare and opportunities for development.  ​

On 30 June 2015, the government of Côte d’Ivoire announced the end of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, one of the key components of its post-conflict reconstruction strategy. According to the government, 85% of former combatants have been successfully disarmed and reintegrated into society.

Roadmap to peacebuilding in Cote d’Ivoire

Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire identified the DDR process as one of the key priorities for post-conflict reconstruction. A single entity was created in August 2012 to manage the process – the Authority for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (ADDR). It identified 74 000 ex-combatants to go through the process. By the deadline of 30 June 2015, ADDR declared having disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated close to 60 000 ex-combatants, which is 90% of its target. It collected 20 000 weapons and 1 million rounds of ammunition. Three destinations were identified for demobilized ex-combatants: back to school, trade and agriculture. Given the poor level of education of most ex-combatants, trade and agriculture absorb the majority. Also, according to an interview with Mr. Comoe, the DDR process engaged in training and skill acquisition for ex-combatants in other to successfully reintegrate them back to the society. In spite of these trainings, not all ex-combatants were successfully captured. These became evident with sporadic upheavals in 2017 and 2018. There were agitations among the combatants reintegrated into the military as well as pockets of violence isn some parts of the north (Interview with Mr. Comoe, at Bengerville, Abidjan, 20th January 2020). Discrepancies noted between the numbers of demobilized combatants versus the weapons collected are justified by the fact that not all ex-combatants have weapons to surrender. Some ex-combatant submitted outdated and unserviceable weapons during the DDR program. This assertion can be further substantiated as weapons are readily available at the slightest source of conflict in communities. While there were claims of a successful Peacebuilding exercise at the exit of UNOCI, Mr Fabien, an ex-combatant asserts that this is not entirely true as arms are readily available at the slightest attempt at violence. During the DDR program, only outdated weapons were surrendered while other sophisticated weapons were kept (Interview with Mr. Fabien, at Cocody, 21st January 2020).


Ineba Bob-Manuel (2000) feels convinced that if political processes are not remodeled from the short-term power dominated interests towards longer-term co-operative and people centered interests, conflicts in Africa will continue. These borders on the influence of political actors in a peacebuilding process. Therefore, she asserts, conflict resolution should not be the responsibility of a privileged few alone, but rather be a participatory process in every sense involving all affected people.

  1. Any Peacebuilding process that has lost touch with the common Ivorian has failed. Peacebuilding must not only be on the exclusive list of the political elite but the citizens must be fully involved in the process. UN, ECOWAS, AU, and other international bodies must ensure that subsequent peacebuilding efforts must take cognizance of the interest of the people rather than the interest of a few political elites or representatives. It must be a bottom up approach hereby building confidence and takes cognizance of the citizens who are majorly affected by the outcome of any conflict.  No doubt, there has been a damaging effect of the negative influence of political actors in the peace-building process in Cote d’Ivoire.

  1. To stem the tide of future relapse to violent conflict in Cote d’Ivoire, it is imperative to have a self-sustaining and successful peace-building process in the country. This is imperative on the national government to develop an home-grown approach to building lasting and sustain ale peace. A system must be in place and must be working.

Mr. Wanyou believes that the peace in Côte d’Ivoire is still fragile and must be taken seriously most especially when the country is approaching an election period. He further stressed that there is hope when the right actions are taken by the country to build the peace;

there are several departments in ECOWAS, we have the solidarity department. There is political affairs department, there is an election department. ECOWAS has sent programs to the government to implement. This program can pull people together in order to strengthen institution and cohesion. We have had workshops where they talk about peace. Not that we have active participants on the ground, but through the projects, activities and the programs that are being handed over to the government, this is how they play the role, social and civil. The role of ECOWAS is to mobilize finance, but the actions are taken by the country (Interview with Mr. Wanyou, Cocody, Abidjan, 21st January 2020).

  1. Due to the difficulties that the ADDR faced during the past three years, it is necessary to develop a post-June 2015 strategy to deal with residual elements that might be left out. In response to this, the government of Côte d’Ivoire, after declaring its mission accomplished, dissolved the ADDR and created a Centre for Coordination of Social Reintegration to deal with the residual elements. This should not end there, but the CCSR should be strengthened to further engage in the process of continued peace-building.

  1. And finally, African intellectuals and professionals in the field of conflict studies should seek to inculcate African ethical values into modern academic structures, especially in conflict resolution (Brock-Utne,1996).

My argument in the paper is that there will be no successful Peacebuilding where the citizens do not participate in the Peacebuilding process. Also, peace from abroad like it was the case of Côte d'Ivoire, is obsolete and invalid within the context of a successful Peacebuilding process in Africa. 


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Sandra Munemo Zambezia, Disability worsening sexual abuse among women with disabilities in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe

Title: Disability worsening sexual abuse among women with disabilities in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe


Box with summary of key messages

1. Zimbabwe does not have disability disaggregated data on sexual violence and all other forms of violence which affects policing, programming and legislating sexual violence.i

2.Sexual violence among women with disabilities was aggravated by existing socio-cultural determinants

3. Sexual violence was frequently experienced by women with hearing impairments when compared to those with other disabilities

4. Young women reported to have experienced sexual violence compared to the elderly (50 years) and above who believed the culture of respecting the elderly people protected them from being sexually violated

5. Close relatives and guardians were the main perpetrators of sexual violence against women with disabilities

6. Despite being sexually abused, women with disabilities in this study hardly utilised either health or police services.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, bribes or coercion, making threats or taking advantage of victims who are unable to give consent by virtue of age, immaturity and intellectii.


Globally, many studies have been conducted on sexual abuse, with a global prevalence of 35.6%iii however, little effort has been exerted to study the same phenomenon among women with disabilities. Possibly, this has been as a result of long held myths that women with disabilities are asexual, unattractive to be sexual partners or hypersexualiv . Consistent to the global precedence set on neglecting to tackle sexual violence among women with disabilities, in Zimbabwe little is known with the most recent study being the one conducted by in 2014 showing that 87.7% of women with disabilities had been sexually abusedv. In line with Sustainable Development Goalsvi , it is vital to address sexual violence among women with disabilities in order to leave no one behind.

Key findings

Sexual violence and place of residence

  • The study established that women who lived in urban areas were more likely to have experienced sexual violence than those who reside in rural areas. For example, sexual violence incidents were mostly reported in Bulawayo and Umzingwane, urban areas when compared to Matobo, a rural area. Most probably, this was due to weak social network systems that obtain in urban areas due to a poor kinship system since people live on the basis of income status and not familial lines. Further, the differences can be a result of more awareness to sexual violence and disability in urban areas than in rural areas hence a high reporting in urban areas.

Sexual violence, age and disability

  • Women with hearing and physical impairments were more susceptible to sexual violence compared to those with albinism and visual impairments. It should be noted that sexual abuse was positively correlated with youthful age (19-49 years old) as those who were aged 50 and above reported that they were immune to sexual violence.

Living arrangements and sexual abuse

  • The study established that living arrangements expose women with disabilities to sexual violence. Most respondents who lived with relatives other than their biological parents were likely to have experienced sexual abuse. The perpetrators of sexual violence took advantage of the dependency of the victim on them for accommodation and sustenance to sexually assault them. The respondents of this study found themselves in abusive living arrangements usually after being rejected by their paternal relatives due to their disability.

Socio-cultural myths and sexual violence

  • Socio-cultural myths on the sexuality of women with disabilities were another determinant of sexual abuse in the present study. During in depth interviews, it was established that myths such as, women with disabilities are infertile and that having sexual intercourse with a woman with albinism increases financial fortunes caused sexual abuse of women with disabilities.

Perpetrators of sexual violence

  • Sexual violence was perpetrated by close male relatives such as step-fathers, uncles and brother-in laws. Neighbours and other community men known to the victims were also the perpetrators of sexual abuse.

Utilisation of health and police services

  • The study revealed that women with disabilities who experience rape do not seek medical or legal help. This is in contrast to recommendations byvii which directs that immediate medical help is critical for women and girls as it protects them from unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections STIs including HIV and AIDS.


  • The government of Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) should ensure that there is disability disaggregated data on sexual violence and all other forms of violence in order to inform policy and programming.

  • Information on sexual violence should be conveyed in all languages and through various media channels such that women with disabilities will be informed on what sexual abuse is and the importance of seeking help within 72 hours. The state through its various ministries has the primary responsibility to see that all the 16 languages enshrined in the constitution are used to disseminate vital information such as information on sexual violence.