Customary Law and Gender Dynamics of Political Participation in Nigeria
Keywords:Traditional African setting, gender imbalance, customary law, political participation, Sustainable Development Goals
Traditionally, gender and sex are closely linked; however, sex or sexuality differs from gender. Gender has become the preferred form in the 21st century, as it is an important factor to consider when hiring employees and in elections for political positions. Sex and gender constructs are bases for inequality and discrimination against women. Historically, the law as an instrument of social control followed the sex and gender constructs. And since men determined and dominated the law and political institutions, enactments and statutes tolerated and perpetuated women’s subjugation. Enactment, in this sense, refers to the process of passing a law, while a statute is an actual law that has been enacted. Enactment is the procedure by which a statute is created, while a statute is the outcome of that process—a written legal provision that has the force of law. Right from the family home, the female is considered a weaker sex whose voice is not to be heard, talk less about representing the clan in a patriarchal setting. This stereotypic position is prevalent in every facet of life, and it subjects womenfolk to hardship and gender-based discrimination. Although women constitute a large portion of voters, it is difficult for them to be elected to positions. It should be noted that gender is not the sole factor considered during an election. For some voters, a woman’s gender can affect their decision in an election, but generally, people vote for their parties. The dominance of a powerful class of male political elite that has historically run the political system has undermined women’s political participation and reduced their chances of nomination for positions at the party level. This article critically reviews gender issues affecting the stake of women’s political participation and examines the indicators of gender and politics in the traditional African setting within the ambit of women’s rights. Using extant international human rights laws and treaties as a guide, the article resolves that equality in political participation is a right. It is, therefore, imperative to grant women unfettered access to political participation to achieve Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is gender equality. Gender is woven throughout the SDGs as it sits at the intersection of economic, social, and environmental issues. SDG aim to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
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