The practice of purdar is an extreme form of the denial of participation rights of women. More generally in Nigeria, women face an array of barriers to their full participation in various aspects of social life due to entrenched cultural attitudes, which put girls at disadvantage in education and discourage or hinder women’s participation in various types of employment as well as in politics and public life. Women in Northern Nigeria were excluded from voting until well after Independence, due to the depth of cultural prejudice against their involvement in public life. A few women like Hajia Gambo Sawaba and Ladi Shehu distinguished themselves as prominent members of the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU), but they paid dearly for their struggle for women’s political rights. Hajia Gambo Sawaba achieved the distinction of becoming the most frequently jailed woman in modern Nigerian history, being imprisoned 17 times during the First Republic (Shawalu, M. 1990). This overt denial of political rights to women only ended in 1976, when a decree was finally promulgated by the Military Government formally allowing women in the Northern States to vote and be voted for.
Women who occupy little more than half of the total population and are supposed to be the vehicle of change and modernization of society, definitely should occupy the largest space in the media. Women are becoming more and more assertive of their right with the global feminist movement; their issue got a special agenda in the media world following the United Nations’ proclamation of the year 1975 as International Women’s Year. Nigerian women are not an exception of the movement. The government of Nigeria should reaffirm its commitment to respect women’s right to information and increase the participation and access of women to wider articulation. Many nations of the world came together at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in June 2000 in Beijing, China and reaffirmed their equality. There are some of the basic principles of good governance upon which democracy is based on. Thomas (2000) asserts: as the largest consumer of both electronic and print media, the women in any political and social system should remain as the most conscious and well informed group whose roles as the reticule of change, development and modernization is particularly notable. The women, as the subject of socialization have to play crucial role in inculcating democratic values, faith and belief, revolt against the patriarchal regimes and work for the realization and promotion of human rights and gender equality. This is possible only when media in the knowledge century try to convert knowledge into power for gender equality.
According to Haj. Fatima Kehinde Okunuga, though the Beijing Conference of 1995 recommended 35% allocation for women in political positions, power and decision making, that has not been the case in Nigeria where women can barely boast of 5 percent. However, it must be noted that the minimal rise in gender participation in the country has been attached to appointive position, having failed to produce women in elective posts.
Without bias, the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan made some inroads by establishing some structures to enhance the empowerment of women politically and chief among these is the establishment of Political Trust Fund to provide support to women aspirants willing to participate in elections at various levels. Women’s representation rose from 10% in 2011 to over 33% in 2013. Though this may be a sort of increase in women participation in politics, it is still light years away from the global perspectives especially in elective posts.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
If we are to delve into the case of female less involvement in meaningful national programmes and policies are the causes of some anti-social activities and crime committed by women in the society, one would find out that most of them arouse because the women have not been neatly integrated into national building or mobilized for national development and political participation by the media.
The media have also been accused of being more interested in commercialization adverts, sponsorship, etc than broadcasting meaningful programmes that would enlighten, mobilize and educate the populace. The act of mobilizing members of the public for a common goal is gradually eroding. These criticisms raise doubt about the ability of the media to effectively inform, educate, enlighten and mobilize the people on important aspects of the society.
The problem then is: do the media create the much needed enabling environment for participation in democracy through its role of informing, educating, enlightening and mobilizing? This forms the main thrust of this study.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to ascertain the audience perception of mobilizing women for political participation. In view of this, the study has the following specific objectives:
1. To examine the role of women in enhancing social change and modernization in Nigeria.
2. To find out the role of the media in mobilizing women for political participation.
3. To find out how Nigerian women are marginalized in the political process.
4. To stress the role of the media in enhancing gender equality in Nigeria.
5. To find solutions toward evolving media strategies in mobilizing women for political participation.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are the research questions which need to be answered:
1. What are the role of women in enhancing social change and modernization in Nigeria?
2. What are the roles of the media in mobilizing women for political participation?
3. Why are Nigerian women marginalized in the political process of the nation?
4. How would you rate the media in terms of enhancing gender equality in Nigeria?
5. How do we find a solution towards evolving media strategies in mobilizing women for political participation?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study is significant in the sense that it will provide relevant information on the mobilization ability and capacity of the media and those who are interested in knowing the media and those who are interested in knowing media contribution in mobilizing the populace for political participation. Apart from satisfying the curiosity of interested general audience, it will also serve as a raw material for researchers who may wish to conduct research into the area covered by this study or other aspect of the media. This study is equally significant to women in Nigeria because the study will highlight with good facts the need for gender equality. Also women will learn certain facts about the need for them to participate in democracy and national development. Another significance of the study is that the media organisation will use the suggestion or recommendations made by the researcher in her study regarding women, media and democracy on a valuable guide.
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study focuses on the audience participation of the media in mobilizing women for political participation. The challenges faced by women and the media in a democratic process will be the focus of the study. Thus, the researcher delimits the study to Mando area of Kaduna i.e. Igabi Local Government Area, Mando residents form the target group and seek their perception of media in mobilizing women for political participation.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Mobilization – prepare or organize people or resources for a task.
Perception – The ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses, a way of understanding or regarding something. The ability to understand the true nature of something; insight.
Political Participation – Relating to government or public affairs of a country related to or interested in politics. The action of taking part in an activity or event.
Gender – A state of being a male or female (with reference to social or cultural differences.
Gender Equality – The state of being equal.
Mass Media – All of the communications media that reach a large audience, especially television, radio, and newspapers.
Media – The various means of mass communication considered as a whole, including television, radio, magazines, and newspapers, together with the people involved in their production.