Indigenous Communication: Socio-Economic Characteristics Influencing Contemporary Female Political Participation
Journal of International Women's Studies
Political Participation Indigenous Communication: Socio-Economic Characteristics Influe ncing Contemporar y Female
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Indigenous Communication: Socio-Economic Characteristics Influencing Contemporary
Female Political Participation
This paper takes into account the exceptionality of the socio-economic characteristics (age,
income, education, marital status, occupation) of female participation in politics through the use
of indigenous communication. The theory was laid on democratic-participant theory. Four
communities were selected in Lagos and Ogun states. Survey design, Focus Group Discussion
(FGD) and in-depth interviews (IDI) were adopted to generate both quantitative and qualitative
data for the study. Structured and semi structured copies of the questionnaire were administered
on 800 purposively selected respondents but only 775 copies of the questionnaire were used for
analysis. Four (4) focus group discussions, made up of 8 purposively selected discussants each
took place in four communities. Four purposively selected participants took part in the in-depth
interviews. The quantitative data were presented in tables and analysed, using percentage counts,
and cross tabulation. Mean and standard deviation were used for ranking of the perception of
women on the role of indigenous communication in politics. The qualitative data, on the other
hand, were transcribed and analysed, adopting the constant comparative technique and thematic
approach. From the findings, young women participate more in politics. On age distribution,
respondents were analysed and the result reveals that 40%, were between 26-35 years, only 8.2%,
were over 55 years. The age distribution reveals that over 70% of the respondents were young
women. Most of the respondents in this research were between 18 and 35. Recommendation were
made among others that since young female participate more in politics, leaders in the community
should devise more activities to promote the participation of young women and involve them in
the preparation, organisation and evaluation of such activities.
1 Dr. Kehinde Opeyemi Oyesomi is a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Covenant University, Ota,
Ogun State, Nigeria. Her responsibilities as a lecturer include teaching, advising, project supervision, research, and
community development. She teaches Journalism and Public Relations courses. Her research interests are on
Gender, media, ICT, political communication and development communication. She possesses a strong positive
character and determination to contribute to scholarship in her area of discipline. She also possesses the ability to
manage multiple projects simultaneously and efficiently, and to work smartly and resourcefully in a fast-paced
environment. She has published in several local international journals.
2 Prof. Abiodun Salawu is Professor of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies and Director of the research
entity, Indigenous Language Media in Africa (ILMA). He has taught and researched journalism for over two
decades in Nigeria and South Africa. Prior to his academic career, he practiced journalism in a number of print
media organisations in Nigeria. He has to his credit, scores of scholarly publications in academic journals and books.
He has also edited three books and authored one. He is a regular presenter of papers at local and international
conferences. He is a co-vice chair of the journalism section of IAMCR and a member of editorial/advisory boards of
a number of journals. He is rated by the NRF as an established researcher and he is a member of the Codesria’s
College of Senior Academic Mentors.
3 Dr. Bankole Olorunyomi is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at
Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. He has published in several local and international journals. His research
interests are on Nigerian Foreign Policy, development, terrorism, politics of post-cold war era and other political
According to Oyesomi, Okorie, Ahmadu &Itsekor (2014), indigenous communication
systems are essential elements of the socio-cultural tradition of Africans. These systems have been
used to promote co-operation, mobilization and participation among African people. Indigenous
communication enjoys high credibility status because it is familiar and controlled locally. Local
audiences are often sceptical of externally-controlled mass media, viewing them merely as
government propaganda. Indigenous communication has a much wider audience, as it can reach
those who do not read or write. It is therefore, crucial for exchange of information with those
(people) who are out of the reach of external channels (Agunga, 1997).
Oyesomi, Oyero, Omole & Kayode-Adedeji (2016) are of the view that the relevance of
women in the society and in politics cannot be undermined .It is therefore important to study
female empowerment from the perspective of women’s socioeconomic characteristics, as women
are divided by heterogeneous categories based on class, life cycle, or ethnicity. Scholars also point
out the need to consider the intersectional ties of women's empowerment—that is, how social,
economic, cultural, and other categories related to gender relations interact with each other in such
a way that they create inequalities among women (Calvès 2009; Charmes and Wieringa 2003).
This is an important issue to tackle if the policies that promote gender equity are not to benefit
only privileged groups of women, while leaving disadvantaged groups voiceless (Calvès 2009).
Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are to:
1. determine the extent to which young and old women participate in politics at the local
2. assess what demographic characteristics influence women’s participation in politics;
3. find out women’s perception on the role of indigenous communication in politics.
1. To what extent do young and old women participate in politics at the local level?
2. What demographic characteristics influence women’s participation in politics?
3. How do women perceive the role of indigenous communication in politics?
Effectiveness of Indigenous Communication in Politics
According to Oyesomi and Okorie (2013), effective communication which operates in a
society through the mass media cannot operate in isolation; it has to operate with the society so as
to reflect the needs of the people. Indigenous communication forms such as festivals, traditional
institutions, folklore, drama, music, songs, dance, drums, and poetry amongst others are dominant
sources of entertainment, and they inform and reform social, moral and human values of their
societies. They also help in curbing inter-tribal wars and conflicts among communities thereby
promoting peace, understanding, team-spirit and brotherhood among mankind. To the rural people,
the use of traditional communication to immensely popularize certain government policies whether
economic, ideological, cultural or educational is in tandem with their ways of life. This is done
particularly through dramatic performances (Oyesomi, 2013).
In fact, the effectiveness of traditional media can be traced to the colonial era, when the
colonialists first came to Nigeria. During the colonial period, the colonial masters resorted to the
use of indigenous media materials such as drums, gongs and many other traditional methods of
communication. Traditional rulers were adequately involved to carry out assignments as well,
since there were no mass media materials (the kind they were used to), absence of good roads,
social and economic infrastructure (Balogun, 1985).
It is important to note that the traditional media system is people-oriented. The failure of
modern media experts to grasp this fact accounts for the seeming failure of modern communication
practices as used especially for development in Africa, when a majority of the people are
considered (Balogun, 1985). Indigenous communication is therefore effective for political
activities because it facilitates feedback and it makes people to communicate with each other using
channels they are familiar with and have access to.
The overview of political participation
Political participation is an essential component of ensuring the stability and legitimacy of
every political system (Oyesomi, 2011). Arowolo &Aluko (2010) identified three levels of
political participation as: the spectator level, the transitional level, and the gladiatorial level. At
spectator level of participation, the following activities are performed: voting, initiating public
discussions, attempting to influence another into voting in a certain way, wearing a party badge or
displaying a party sticker. The activities identified above entail relatively little costs in time, energy
and resources. Consequently, many women are able to participate at this level of politics.
At the transitional level of participation, the following activities are performed: attending
political meetings or rallies, making some monetary contribution to campaigns, contracting a
public official or political leader. Activities at this level require more costs in time and resources
than those at the spectator level. Activities at this level are referred to as transitional because of
the general tendency for participants at this level either to descend to spectator activities or to
ascend to gladiatorial activities.
At the Gladiatorial level of participation, political participation may include: holding a
public or party office, being a candidate for office, soliciting or appealing for party funds, attending
a caucus or strategy meeting and contributing time or other resources in a campaign.
Adedeji (2009) defines participation in politics as taking part in one or two of the
1. joining a political party;
2. contributing funds to a political party organization or candidate or attending political
3. attending political party events, e.g., meetings, conventions, rallies, fund-raising
functions, or other political gatherings;
4. carrying out administrative activities for a political party or candidate, such as
stuffing envelopes, answering or placing telephone calls, addressing correspondence
on behalf of a political candidate or party;
5. supporting a political party or candidate, e.g.,
o displaying political material, e.g., picture, sticker, badge or button, place a sign on
lawn; accompanying a candidate during a press conference;
o organizing political events;
o expressing personal views or opinions on public issues, thereby directing attention
to themselves, or their position;
o developing promotional material for a political party or candidate, e.g. writing
campaign speeches, slogans, pamphlets for candidates in partisan elections;
o signing nomination petitions and/or the official nomination paper of a candidate;
o distributing campaign literature in political elections;
o seeking the public's views on specific issues on behalf of a political party or
o recruiting volunteers for a political party or candidate;
o soliciting funds for a political party or candidate;
o attending, as a delegate, a political leadership convention;
o seeking to be elected as a delegate to a political leadership convention; Being a
member of an official group promoting a candidate or political party (e.g.,
president of a riding, president of the youth association, etc.);
o seeking nomination in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election;
o Being a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election.
Survey, Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and in-depth interviews (IDI) were adopted to
generate both quantitative and qualitative data for the study. Structured and semi structured copies
of the questionnaire were administered on 800 purposively selected respondents but only 775
copies were used for analysis. Four (4) focus group discussions, made up of 8 purposively selected
discussants each took place in four communities. 4 purposively selected participants took part in
the in-depth interviews. Four communities were selected in Lagos and Ogun states. The
communities selected are: Ilogbo, Ayobo, Odeda and Aradagun.
Four communities were sampled- Ilogbo, Ayobo, Odeda and Aradagun. The findings in
table 1 reveal that Ayobo community has the highest number of respondents; the reason being that
proportionate sampling was used to select the respondents. The age group 18-25 has the highest
number of respondents in all the communities sampled.
The participation of women in politics were divided into three categories: registration as a
member of a political party, registration as a voter, and contesting for a political post was regarded
as high participation, registration as a member of a political party and registration as a voter only
was regarded as average participation and registration as a voter only was regarded as low
participation. The last category was non registration as a member of a political party and
nonregistration as a voter was regarded as no participation.
The result in table 3 shows that younger women participate more in politics than the older
women. As numbers of women in politics around the world increase, young women may become
more inspired to participate in politics.
In an interview, the woman leader of Ilogbo community, had this to say on the level of
women’s participation in politics:
Women do participate in politics in the community. Young women are more
vibrant and active. Their level of participation is high. They attend meetings, they
are members of political parties and many of them vote during elections. Many of
them also belong to one female association or the other. The truth is that only very
few of them are aspirants. Though they participate actively, they hardly contest
Here are the general views of discussants on the level of women’s participation in the
elections in a focus group sessions:
Discussants in Ayobo: As high as 75% women in this community participate
well in politics. Our leaders, women leaders, opinion leaders encourage us to
participate. This comes through different ways. They organise programmes
especially training programmes on different skills to encourage women to be
selfemployed. During these programmes, women are encouraged to participate in
politics. Participation rate is high, especially among the middle-aged women.
Discussants in Ilogbo: Women participate in politics, especially during election
time. Though only very few of them are contestants, they tend to give support to
the aspirants by supporting and campaigning for them.
Discussants in Aradagun: Our women participate in politics, both the young
and old ones but the young ones are more vibrant. “Some of our wives, for
example, participate in politics; I even encourage my wife to do so because she is
a good decision maker in the house”. The truth is that many of them are not
aspirants and this is because they have responsibilities, especially to take care of
the home. Marriage and home keeping is a hindrance.
Discussant D in Egba-Odeda: We do participate in politics and even love to be
aspirants but the funding needed is not there most times. Women here are great
Interviewees (ID1) agreed that women are participating in politics but more needs to be
done as, for example, the Onilogbo of Ilogbo land explained, to support elected women and
improve their ability to influence policies: “Generally, I would say efforts are being made to
increase women's participation in leadership …but a lot remains to be done in building the elected
women's capacity and increasing the quality of their participation and voice to influence policies
and actions in favor of women.” Another participant reasoned that the participation of women in
leadership at the local level is not enough; women at all levels must be empowered especially the
young ones. Local level participation “must be accompanied by a comprehensive
consciousnessraising campaign, and civil and political education that would allow women to know their rights.”
Both of these strategies –training elected women at the local level and conducting civil and
political education at the grassroots level– will be important complementary efforts to increase the
number of women aspirants.
In table 4, Educational qualification was one of the socio-economic characteristics
considered. Educational qualification was cross-tabulated with membership of political party. The
highest group with political membership of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party are
respondents with senior secondary school certificate. It is note worthy of that out of 11 of the
respondents with tertiary institution certificate, only 8 of them belong to a political party, ACN
and PDP. This implies that women with high education from the communites sampled have little
or no time for politics.
Civil servant Teaching
In table 5, occupational status was cross-tabulated with membership of political party. The
highest group that belong to a political party are traders/business women. 70.1 % respondents are
ACN members.While 26 respondents female civil servants belong to one political party or the
Marital status was one of the socio-economic characteristics considered. Marital status was
crosstabulated with membership of political party in table 6. The highest group that belonged to a
political party are married women, where (494) 77.3% women, said they are members of ACN.
However, 8 (1%) respondents that were divorced were members of some political party. This is
surprising because they are no longer under the influence of a man and are expected to participate
more in politics. Marital status influences women involvement in political activities at the local
level. Although, the number of unmarried women who were involved in politics were fewer than
that of married women.In all, very few married women are candidates for elections . This implies
that being under an authority of a man could also be a factor that may hinder active participation
Political party CAN PDP
Age was one of the socio-ecoonomic characteristics considered. Age was crosstabulated
with membership of political party in table 7. The highest age group of respondents that belong to
a political party is age 26-35years, 70.5% of them belong to ACN party. Only (64)3.1% of the
respondents who are aged 55 and above are members of political parties. This implies that the
older the women, the lesser they are involved in political activities at the local level.
The finding in table 2 reveals that the majority of women participate in politics at the local
level, out of which 82.8 %, were between 18-45years of age. Those over 46 years who participate
in politics were just 17.2%. This implies that young women participate more in politics than older
The table above shows that as high as 378 (48%) respondents income status is between
N20,000-N50,000 and 42 (5%) respondents income status is N101000 and above. This suggests
that many of the respondents are average income earners.
The results in table 8 show that 68.3% of the respondents indicated that all indigenous
communication forms influence them to participate in politics. This implies that isolating one form
of indigenous communication as being responsible for promotion of politics among women may
be difficult and misleading.
A woman has cultural rights to participate in politics in my community On the basis of political competence, my community rates men over women
Political parties in my community are dominated by men and
this encourages women to participate in politics
The religious heritage in my community encourages women
to participate in politics
In my community, the place of a woman is not at home,; she
is permitted to participate in politics
In my community, a woman who contests for political
position is seen as someone who is either independent or not
Political symbols made me to know about the importance of
participation in politics
My attendance of political meetings influenced my
participation in politics
I got convinced to participate in politics through the
drama/play I watched
The dance/festival in my community encouraged me to
participate in politics
The friendship network in my community influenced my
participation in politics
The different forms of indigenous communication made me
to voluntarily join a `political party
The different forms of indigenous communication made me
to encourage other people to join a political party
I have so much information on political activities through
By ranking, in table 9, the results show that women are convinced to participate in politics
mainly because of their attendance at political meetings. This shows that attendance at political
meetings goes a long way to influence women to participate in politics. The next by rank also
shows that women tend to have so much information on political activities through indigenous
communication. This implies that indigenous communication is a good platform for political
activities, especially for women. Opinion leaders are significant here. They serve to convince
women on the importance of participating in politics. Opinion leaders are generally seen as
advisers, translators, interpreters and mediators in any community. The religious beliefs of all the
communities visited confirmed that religious practices do not in any way stand as a hindrance to
women’s participation in politics.
The result is at variance with the views of Millet and Gerald (2007) that religious doctrines
militate against the active participation of women in politics. However, it should be noted that in
some parts of the country, religious heritage can militate against the participation of women in
politics. Millet and Gerald (2007) have reasoned that “patriarchy has God on its side” that is,
Christianity portrays Eve as an after-thought produced from Adam’s spare rib. Furthermore, it is
held that the origin of gender discrimination began with sins. Islamic doctrines strictly bar women
from some political activities – public speaking etc. – that can facilitate their political ambitions.
Through series of enlightenment, emancipation and consciousness raising of groups on women
movement, women’s subordination in politics has been reduced to an extent. Women, through
several of these platforms, have played influential roles and this has further spurred more women
to go into politics.
Fostering registration as a party member
Identification of political symbols
Table 8 reveals the different forms of indigenous communication adopted in the
communities sampled. Many of the women are members of political parties. Indigenous
communication, especially political groups influence them to participate in politics. Indigenous
communication influences women’s participation in politics in so many ways, these include
identification of political parties, encouraging women to register as voters, to register as party
members and as voters. Indigenous communication influences women’s participation in politics,
especially to register as voters and to know political parties available in the country.
A participant during the in-depth interview at Egba-Odeda community remarked that:
Indigenous communication contributes effectively in influencing women to
participate in politics. Women attend political party events, e.g., meetings,
conventions, rallies, fund-raising functions, or other political gatherings.
Women do register during electoral process. They also support the political party
they belong to and support candidates for election by displaying political
materials, e.g., picture, sticker, badge or button, place a sign on lawn;
accompanying a candidate during a press conference; organizing political events,
etc. They support women aspirants too for any political post.
The general view of participants in the focus group discussion shows that women make use
of indigenous communication to ensure their own as well as their families' survival and, as a result,
have developed a rich communication environment. They have lived creative lives, transmitting
culture, knowledge, customs and history through traditional forms of communication such as
political groups, language, family network, etc. within their communities; women are active
participants in social communication networks, especially in politics. The use of indigenous
communication therefore, influences women to participate in politics.
According to Onabajo (2001), grassroots campaigns rely significantly on local leadership
to fire the enthusiasm of the people. Local leaders are the real agents in their communities and
other change agents must recognize the pattern and structure of leadership in any community they
find themselves. Women are found as leaders of market associations and other skilled labour
groups and they constitute powerful influences in the mass mobilisation of women groups. From
the result, women are encouraged to participate in politics through different forms of indigenous
Opinion leaders, especially local leaders, also have a great influence on women. They are
the vehicles through which these messages are disseminated. According to Wright (2006), local
leaders refer to individuals, who through day to day personal contacts, influence others in matters
of decision and opinion formation and this is distinct from formal leadership brought about through
position of authority. To Wright, the local leaders are more active participants in the
communication system, most especially the mass media. In this regard, they tower above members
of their communities in access to development information and they become vital agents of social
change and community development.
Leadership in a community depends on the co-operative personal attitudes of individuals
within the community and the system of communication in use in a given community. The
community is the environment in which a local leader establishes contact with culture, consolidates
her relationships with other people, senses the efforts of others to educate her for leadership and
by her own personal efforts improve her leadership ability, through access to the electronic media
and other communication channels. Leadership gives common meaning to the common purposes
of a local community. It infuses consistency into the subjective aspects of countless decisions in a
changing environment and inspires the personal conviction that produces vital cohesiveness,
without which understanding and co-operation are impossible.
Local leadership fosters participation in the decisions that affect the lives and welfare of
people in the rural communities and creates faith in a number of activities that may lead to rural
development. The relationships among rural people are personal and in most cases, face to face.
With close personal relationships, the woman community leader, according to Wright (2006), is
more involved in the day to day activities of her community and does recognize areas of conflicts
better than does her urban counterpart.
The local leader must continually be aware that rural development is not an end in itself,
but a means to national development. She must be guided by the understanding that the principal
purpose for rural development is to bring about desirable changes for better living, among the
people of her community. She should help the people to identify the problems militating against
their progress, and lead them to a desired action, to solve these problems. The local leader should
ensure that the rural population is involved in the planning, execution, utilization and assessment
of any project designed to improve their welfare. In all the communities sampled, there are women
leaders who serve as agents of change to other women.
An important finding from both the focus group discussion and interview session reveal
that women are motivated to participate and contest for political offices through indigenous
communication, yet many of them run away from contesting as candidates for elections. There are
many factors that could be responsible for this. Among this are lack of adequate finance and
godfatherism are crucial hindrances to effective female participation in politics in Nigeria. Adedeji
(2009) is of the view that a large portion of the Nigerian female population is not as financially
strong as their male counterparts. Family responsibilities and childbearing also hinder women from
participating effectively in partisan political activities. During a sizeable part of their adult lives,
most women are involved not only in child bearing, but also in child rearing. Thus, much of the
time they may have wished to devote to politics is taken up by their maternal challenges and
Discussion of findings
1. The extent to which young and old women participate in politics at local level.
From the findings, young women participate more in politics. On age distribution,
respondents were analysed and the result reveals that 40%, were between 26-35 years, only 8.2%,
were over 55years.The age distribution reveal that over 70% of the respondents were young
women. Romao (2003) noted that for many young women, the local level is where they can find
the means and opportunities for participating, influencing the decision-making process and
acquiring competences transposable to the formal political sphere.
Age is an important factor in the study of indigenous communication and women’s
participation in politics because it reflects the physical strength and psychological disposition of
women for imbibing behavioural change and influencing the decision making progress. Most of
the respondents in this research were between 18 and 45. Respondents participate actively in
politics. Out of this, 549 were between 18 and 45. This shows that women participate in politics
in their active age. The result is in line with the findings of Falolo (2005) and Ajayi (2007) who
observed that most of the women in decision making who participate in the electoral process are
below 50 years of age. In addition, Lewu (2005) and Ayobami (2006) equally found that most of
women who participate actively in politics are between 20 and 45 and that only very few are older
than 50 years of age.
Indeed, Ajayi (2007) corroborated this point when he opined that women are active in
politics between 18 and 45. Anifowose (2004) asserts that young and active women can positively
influence decision making in the electoral process. This therefore, shows that younger women
participate in political activities more than older women. Hence, more attention should be focused
on this category of women.
The distribution of respondents by marital status reveals that 82.6% were married. Women
participate in election through voting, campaigning and supporting the candidates. However,
married women find it hard to run for elective positions due to limited time available to them
because of their dual roles in the productive and reproductive spheres. With their primary roles as
mothers and wives and competing domestic responsibilities and care work, they are left with little
time to participate in politics. This supports Osundiyi’s (2010) study on women and political
development. He found out that the majority of women who participate in politics are married
women but very many of them have home responsibilities that limit their time to participate
actively in politics, especially in contesting for political offices. Arowolo and Aluko (2010), in a
study on women and political participation, discovered that a lot of female respondents believed
that politics would prevent them from taking absolute care of their families. Fear of broken homes,
breeding irresponsible children and the need to perform their domestic chores were identified as
major reasons preventing them from going into politics. Family responsibilities and cultural
values, traditions and practices of confining women to household activities have excluded them
from actively participating and fulfilling their role as elected representatives. The burden of
multiple roles on women restricts the exercise and enjoyment of their right in various political
processes. The demands of the job and family in the absence of support mechanisms impede their
effective discharge of responsibilities as elected representatives.
Men need to be oriented on the need to allow their wives not only to participate in politics
but also to run for elective office. Married women are found to constitute a special interest group
which is not favourably inclined towards the political participation of women possibly because, as
suggested in the previous section, such candidacy pose a threat to the stability and the tradition of
the institution of marriage.
The literacy status distribution of the respondents was analysed and the result reveals that
88% respondents, were literate, while 12%, were illiterate. The literacy status distribution revealed
that most participants were literate. It is interesting to know that many of the respondents are
educated. Literacy can be seen as integrating all aspects of adult life which brings about total
change in the community.
As Okpoko (2005) observes, mass literacy is very important because a literate society is a
liberated society. He pointed out that literacy will enable the women get involved and participate
fully in political processes – elections, voting and understanding manifestos of political parties, in
order to decide for themselves which of the manifestoes are relevant to solve their problems and
increase their standard of living in various spheres of life.
The educational qualification of the respondents was analysed and the result reveals 58.5%,
were senior secondary school certificate holders, while 12%, had no formal education. The
distribution of respondents by educational qualification reveals that above 88% of the participants
were educated but only 1.4 % women have higher education. Several scholars, Gana (2003), Falola
(2005) found separately that the majority of the women in politics have formal education. The
scholars found that many of the women have either primary school certificate or secondary school
certificate education. This is in line with the finding of this work that shows that as high as 453
respondents have secondary school certificate However, Anuma, (1996) noted that education is
the most effective way to enhance Nigerian women political awareness and effective participation.
The data on the job status distribution of the respondents reveal that 76.1%, were traders
or self-employed. The job status distribution reveals that most participants were self-employed.
Women are involved in several activities. As high as 76.1% respondents are involved in business
and trading. Aiyede (2006) notes that trading generally helps women to earn income and other
benefits. This will also go along way for them to assist and support their husbands in feeding the
family and better their well-being and thus could find time to participate in political activities.
The data on the tenancy distribution of the respondents was analysed and in table 4.24, the
result reveals that 74.5%, had spent between 3 and 10years in the community sampled, 3.6% of
the respondents, had spent 19 years and above in the community sampled. Many of the respondents
have lived in the communities for about 3-10years.
2. The role of social cultural factors on women’s participation in politics
During the focus group discussion, the discussants indicated, overwhelmingly, that
patriarchy is pervasive and dominates all aspects of society. Oluwatofunmi Lawal, a political
activist, said most succinctly what most participants, across the community, expressed: “women
are considered subordinate to men and second class members/citizens both in the family and in the
society.” There was a robust discussion about the barriers to women’s entry into politics; illiteracy
and economic dependency were the most commonly cited challenges. Closely related to those two
issues are the responsibility that women have for their households and the cultural expectations
that inhibit their experience outside the private sphere. They lack the time to participate in politics.
The woman leader of Ayobo community during an interview explained how some attitudes
hold women back: “women are still facing a lot of challenges related to social and cultural
pressures. The perceived traditional roles of men and women have not changed in relation to daily
practice. The working environment for women is still unfriendly at both working and societal
levels due to gender stereotypes and patriarchal structures. Women leaders and professionals are
still faced with traditional roles and also have to meet work/professional expectations. Neither their
husbands nor their male relatives have succumbed to the changes ushered in by the era of gender
equality. For women to be able to perform on an equal footing with men, they have to walk extra
Participants were careful to point out traditional practices and attitudes that are more
common in rural and isolated areas. Urban, educated women are however not immune to these
pressures. The Onilogbo of Ilogbo-Asowo, Oba (Barrister) Samuel Olufemi Ojugbele, explains
that even elite women face these challenges. “The weight of the tradition, the culture, and the
religion are cultural barriers ... certain husbands refuse to eat meals other than the ones prepared
by their wives. Even certain women [government] ministers and directors submit to this dictate of
culture and society. Tradition has for a long time hindered the participation of the women ... even
to register the children for school; the priority was first given to the boy because the destiny of the
girl was sealed. The traditional social barriers are the most tenacious ones and require more work
and behavior change is difficult and slow to come.”
The woman leader of Aradagun community said: When you have so little energy left as a
result of the long years of struggle, when your domestic situation changes over time, and in my
case, I have children to take care of, when you need to begin to worry about your financial needs,
and then have to continue your activism, being in social movements that keep fighting with each
other was simply a bit too much, in light of many things that needed my attention as a woman,
mother, wife, organizer, activist, etc. Cultural barriers are among the most difficult to remove, as
they are often subtly enforced by both men and women. They are seen as immutable. Despite these
challenges, participants recalled that culture changed over time and that the oppression of women
was not a permanent condition. As the woman leader of Egba-Odeda summarized, “unless people
start to realize that culture is dynamic, women will always be the voters not the [elected
A few specific strategies aimed at changing the culture were suggested. The most common
suggestion was training programmes aimed at changing attitudes and creating an “enabling
environment” for women’s empowerment. For example, Olalade Eniayemo from Aradagun
suggested working with schools and youths: “train cadres of women/girls starting from high
schools to advocate for popular participation of women in politics and influence the school.
An Ayobo community participant said: Women are still at a stage where they are still
struggling to be heard. There are indigenous communities that are very patriarchal; there are also
some that are egalitarian in some ways. Women need to be given respect; they should also be
allowed to acquire leadership positions, to have a say over what’s happening in their communities.
Sometimes, because women in the non-indigenous areas are often more visible than their
indigenous sisters, there is a tendency to view women’s participation in politics and governance
as merely a function of organizing and education. Class and ethnicity are important factors that
should be considered.
Culture varies widely with respect to the roles they assigned to different sexes. While one
job may be regarded as a man's job in one society, it may be regarded as women's job in another.
This can be related to politics. Men are generally seen as politicians. This division is with the
exception of child bearing. Child bearing is one constant factor that determines the division of
labour in pre-industrial societies. Because of child-bearing, women are less mobile and therefore
send to fill roles which they can perform closer to their houses such as house-keeping, weaving,
midwifery and processing of food. Politics, for example, is time consuming and women are
involved in some other domestic responsibilities. Apart from the physical attractions, women are
indispensable at home not only in the domestic work they do, but also in the taking care of the
children. According to Oyesakin (1982), women perform certain functions that make for
development. They bear and take care of the children, they take care of the home and economically
they are helping hands to men.
The data reveal the following:
Indigenous communication influences women to participate in politics.
Most of the respondents are between 18 and 35 years old. This shows that most of the
respondents are young women. As Romao (2003) noted that for many young women,
the local level is where they can find the means and opportunities for participating,
influencing the decision-making process and acquiring competences transposable to
the formal political sphere. Young women should also be encouraged to contest for
Most of the respondents are married women and they participate in politics. However,
very few of them contest for elective positions. Married women also find it hard to run
for elective positions due to limited time available because of their dual roles in the
productive and reproductive spheres. With their primary roles as mothers and wives
and competing domestic responsibilities and care work, they are left with little time to
participate in politics.
• Considering the fact that young women participate more in politics, leaders in the
community should devise more activities to promote the participation of young women
and involve them in the preparation, organisation and evaluation of such activities;
• Concerted efforts have to be made by women themselves to be seen and heard in all
ventures, especially political efforts. It can be said that the best advocates for equality
are all people who believe that the disparity in power between female and male
populations has been morally unjust through the lens of distributive justice.
• In order to ensure active participation of women in politics, civil society organisations,
governments as well as political parties should increase the level of awareness of
women by organizing seminars/workshops not only in the cities but also in the villages.
Participation in such seminars/workshops should be open to both women and men.
participation at the local level. Journal of New Media and Mass Communication. Vol. 25,
USA. Pp. 1-8.
Oyesomi, K.O., Oyero, O, Omole, O, Kayode-Adedeji, K. (2016). Indigenous communication
and women politics in Ado-Odo Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. Gender and Behaviour. 14 (3),