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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 1.1      Background to the Study 

The place of communication in enhancing a sense of belonging and social responsibility among members of a society is deeply rooted in its ability to empower people with knowledge and information that could translate to self-discovery, confidence and the will to act on issues needing action. Kothari, in S.K. Nair and S.A. White (1993:23) wraps it up:

The role of communication…has to be thought of not as a specialized concern, but as a part and parcel of the struggles for human liberation, freedom and justice, strengthening the struggles of communities and cultures of national entities that are thought to be marginalized people… Communication, in whatever form or channel (mass media, social media or folk media) must serve an empowering or liberating purpose. It must be able to re-awaken people to the realization of societal forces or stereotypes that threaten their transformation and empowerment as a community, race, gender, class or individuals.

Concerns for the role of communication in social transformation began with UNESCO in the 1950s which was elaborated decades later by McAnany (1980), where he examined the relevance of communication to the rural third world. Similarly, Rogers (1983) in “Diffusion of Innovations” also focused on the poor majority, their communication behavior and the impact of education and information on their situations. Rogers recognizes target audience, information environment, information flow, media campaigns and exposure, as the organizational structures of communication that when carefully handled could have positive impact on majority of people.

The organizational, transformational and participatory values of communication must be employed towards conscientization of the marginalized. Paulo Freire (1970) first introduced the concept of conscientization in communication. Freire argues that, communication should be practiced not as message transmission but as emancipatory dialogue, a particular form of non-exploitative egalitarian dialogue which is carried out in an atmosphere of profound love and humility.

Nair and White (1987), when re-conceptualizing development communication suggest a holistic approach which incorporates the notion of an inter-face between communication and participation. Nair and White view participatory communication as the answer to social injustice and unequal right. Participatory communication ensures citizen empowerment and acquisition of knowledge that could enable people change their lifestyles, relationships and perceptions about their socio-cultural and socio-political environment.

When tailored towards social transformation, communication can be said to be a vehicle for empowerment and liberation from mental and psychological shackles that bind people to structures and processes of oppression and domination. This is also the dimension at which communication is employed in this research. It is contextually channeled towards change (liberation and transformation).

Therefore, the practice of Freire as well as Nair and White‟s concepts of communication for liberation and social change are vital to the fundamental issues facing the process of governance and democratization where there is a continued lack of gender equality in political leadership. World-wide today, women represent only one in seven parliamentarians, one in ten cabinet ministers and at the apex of power, one in twenty heads of states or government (Norris and Inglehart, 2010). 

Multiple factors have contributed towards this situation. These include structural, social, institutional and cultural factors etc.  Most striking among these factors is cultural practices and attitudes which have tenaciously continued to prove a significant influence on the proportion of women politicians the world over (Kiamba, 2009).

A recent study by the inter-parliamentary union interviewing 187 women politicians in 65 countries to find out about their experiences discovered that, hostile socio-cultural practices to women participation in politics was the second most rampant barrier against women that are running for political positions and preceded closely by the problems of sex roles in the society (IPU, 2010). However, the social problem of sex role cannot be dissociated from the questions of culture in the family and community. Sex role is a socio-cultural practice that arguably accorded the women an „extra-unofficial‟

role than the man. Hence, even the problem of sex role is culturally inclined.

In 2006, the world value survey conducted an investigation in 55 societies (including African societies) and has evidently established that, there exist substantial differences in cultural practices and attitudes towards women leadership in postindustrial, post-communist and developing societies.

Evidence drawn from this survey has also shown that, comparatively, egalitarian societies (communities with high sense of equal rights) have a high number of women politicians irrespective of their socio-economic levels. This is a product of social transformation that comes through conscientization (Inglehart, 2007).

The same can be said about the situation in Nigeria, where cultural indices of history, customs, belief systems or religion form the basis for cultural practices. While it is easier for women to excel politically in communities with growing consciousness of equal right, same cannot be said about communities with strict adherence to cultural indices, especially those that subvert the woman. Hence, the situation varies from one region to another.

In an interview with Nigerian Weekly Trust Newspaper, in a headline: „The women politicians are coming‟, Senator Nenadi  Usman argues that, unlike other senatorial districts, the politics of southern Kaduna is dominated by men and this is largely due to cultural practices and attitudes. Though there may be other reasons behind inadequate representation of women in politics, like lack of interest, ignorance, herculean demand of politics and so on, cultural factors constitute the major reasons.

However, the process of effective communication which is a sine-qua-non for positive socio-cultural attitudes and practices may be inadequate in Kajuru LGA and this might have affected the proportion of women politicians in the area.

1.2        Statement of the Research Problem 

Women‟s access to education, information and political leadership are impeded by traditions and prejudice instigated most times by socio-cultural and communication practices (Ashong C. and Herbert Batta, 2011).

Intervention campaigns to address these problems of leadership disparity in the late twentieth century took the shape of feminist movement which culminated into three basic policies that sought to ensure that women partake in political leadership. Norris (2010) outlined the policies as the rhetorical strategies, the affirmative action programs and the positive discrimination strategies. All these policies are political and public statements or speeches proclaimed by successive government and applauded for tilting the way to paltry rise in women leadership but faulted for their lack of adequate communication approaches that would properly conscientize the society to act on sociocultural practices that impede women political participation (Sadie, 2005).

As a socio-cultural organ, Mass Media has not been able to significantly change the apparent inequality in political participation between men and women in Nigeria. The mass media is said to have given inadequate attention to issues that are particularly significant to women leading to its inability to address socio-cultural practices militating against women‟s participation in politics. The impact of this failure according to Ashong and Batta, (2011) worsens prejudices against women and heightens the culture of poor political participation.

For example, the Nigerian home video industry is a socio-cultural organ that portrays a negative image of women through its messages. At the dusk of the twentieth century, Okunna, (2000) observed that, quite often, Nigerian home video was filled with negative images of women as immoral, materialistic, lazy, dependent and subservient to men. Consequently, research has shown that, this culture leaves youth, particularly girls, with feelings of inferiority and increases society‟s erroneous perceptions about the woman‟s leadership potentials (Okunna,2000; Ezeigbo,1996).        

The family is another socio-cultural institution that communicates customs and value systems to its offspring. The traditional belief or system of attaching prominence to male children over their female counterpart even when they are older and more intelligent passes the wrong message to young people. Citing the example of the Hausa community, where seven and three ululations are reportedly used to welcome a newborn male and female respectively, Lanihun (2003) argues that, masculine is apparently rated higher than the feminine and this tends to give women a lower status in the family and society by extension.  

The messages and teachings of religion according to feminist liberation theologians are patriarchal. The messages seek to subvert the woman and make her subjected to man. Okure, (1993) argues that, from the beginning, the society has been patriarchal which accounts for traces of patriarchal teachings and interpretation of the

„Holy Books‟ by the hitherto male-dominated field of theology. This she maintains is to make the man a permanent leader while the woman remains a follower. 

Therefore, overtly or covertly, the combination of mass media, family and religion which are all socio-cultural organs, seem to fuel socio-cultural beliefs and attitudes that do not favor women‟s participation in political leadership. This reinforces gross inequality between men and women in politics and governance.

1.3       Aim and Objectives of the Study

 The aim of this research is to enhance the participation of women in political leadership in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State.

The study also has the following objectives

i.        To examine perceptions on male and female participation in political leadership in

Kajuru LGA.

ii.      To assess the level of women‟s participation in politics within the study area.

iii.    To identify and examine some cultural practices and attitudes hindering women vying for political positions within the LGA under investigation.

iv.    To investigate the efficiency and efficacy of existing communication strategies used for women political sensitization within the study area.

v.      To suggest a communication framework that could enhance effective women

political participation within the area of study.

1.4       Justification for the Study

Issues of women political leadership in recent times have been treated with a high level of concern the world over. The recent adoption, (by Heads of States) of the declaration by United Nations Organization for 35% affirmative action on the right of women to occupy political positions is a pointer to the fact that, women are left behind as far as national and international politics are concerned.

Evidence presented by (Sadie, 2005) has shown that, the 35% affirmative action that seeks to place women in political position was relatively not working in most African countries except in South-Africa and Mozambique, where there was 32.8% and 37.2% achievement respectively. In Nigeria, the situation leaves much to be desired as the percentage of women in the national assembly was put at 6.9% (Norris and Inglehart, 2010).

According to Nigerian Weekly Trust October (2010), president Olusegun Obasanjo‟s administration witnessed a high number of women in his cabinet and perhaps the highest point for Nigerian women when Patricia Etteh became the speaker of the House of Representative. More women were also on the scene during the late President Umaru Musa Yar‟adua as well as President Goodluck Jonathan‟s administration; yet 35% realization of affirmative action is still a mirage even when some political parties have granted waivers to women. The questions that are begging for answers are: What is responsible for this failure? Where are the women? Why are they not largely in political positions?

It is in an attempt to answer the above questions that this research undertakes a comprehensive study on the relationship between culture, development communication and women participation in politics. It is believed that, the findings and recommendations of this research would go a long way in empowering women politically and helping in achieving 35% affirmative action for a sustainable social transformation from grassroots to national politics.

1.5        Research Questions

To achieve the objectives of this research, the following questions are presented:

Ø  How is male participation different from female participation in politics in kajuru

LGA?

Ø  What is the level of women participation in political leadership in kajuru L.G.A.?

Ø  What are the hinderances to adequate participation of women in political participation?

Ø  What kinds of communication strategies are used for political conscientization and how accessible are they to women?

Ø  What alternative strategies can be used to foster adequate women political participation?

1.6       Scope/Delimitation of the Study

The aim of this study is to enhance women‟s political participation in Kajuru LGA by establishing socio-cultural barriers and providing alternative communication approaches that could address these barriers and enhance political participation. Thus, socio-economic barriers were not considered.

The study has covered the level of women‟s political participation in the chosen communities only with particular reference to the return of democracy from 1999 – 2011. Due to the demands of multiple data collection tools and methods used as well as time frame limitation, the study covered only four districts out of ten. The researcher categorized the ten districts into north and south cardinal points and two districts were chosen from each point.

Taking into consideration the culture of the people in some communities, which compels women to stay indoors and be visited by only family members and females, the selection interviews and Focus Group Discussions in those communities were designed to be carried out by female research assistants.


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