It is widely reported that gender inequality has been and continuously remains an endemic to the growth of not just nation states but the international system. Women since time immemorial have been relegated to the background in terms of political participation. They are regarded as not strong enough or qualified enough to participate actively in politics in not just at the local level but also at the international level. The work therefore examined the participation of women in international politics and the challenges they face.
In order to fulfil the objective of this study and to provide answers to the questions posed by the topic under research, the primary source of data collection (questionnaire) as well as secondary sources of data collection such as published books, journals, unpublished thesis and internet materials were adopted. Thus, 50 structured questionnaires were distributed randomly to 50 respondents within Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti. however, 28 completed copies of the questionnaire were retrieved. The responses provided by the respondents were analyzed and the findings from the analysis led to the conclusion and recommendations provided in this thesis. The findings of the research revealed that women have indeed not been given equal opportunities to participate in politics like men have, the participation of women in politics so far has indeed had positive impacts on the international society, feminist activities to promote gender inequality in the international political system have been both successes and failures, the activities of the United Nations to aid gender equality in political participation have been successful and they have not relented in their efforts, the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been successful in the achievement of its aims and also that the glass ceiling which represents all barriers to women’s political participation may never be eliminated.
In summary, women such as Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Margaret Thatcher among others were discussed in this thesis. These women face so many challenges in their bids to participate in politics at not just the local level but also the global level. It can however be said with utmost certainty that these women’s participation in international politics has had positive impacts not just on their home countries but the international system. In conclusion, the positive impacts which women have made in the international political system mainly serve as historical records and this should not be the case as these positive impacts they have made should serve as the starting point for entrusting them with more political responsibilities. This study therefore recommends that both states governments and non-governmental organizations at the local and international levels should embark on the reorientation of societies in terms of the equality of rights and freedom for both sexes.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Throughout history, women’s political participation has been mainly in the exercise of their rights, rather than their direct participation in the decision making processes of the societies to which they belong. This has occurred due to multiple factors, among others, the existence of a patriarchal order, political parties’ resistance to the entry of women, harassment and political violence towards them and so on. Over time, women have been relegated to the background and seen as not good enough, strong enough or qualified enough. According to Afolabi et al. (2003), women constitute over half of the world‟s population and contribute in vital ways to societal development generally. In most societies of the world, women assume five key roles: mother, producer, home-manager, community organizer and socio-cultural and political activists (Afolabi et al, 2003). Of these roles mentioned, the last has been engendered by women movements attributed to historical gender discrimination and inequality. Hitherto the emergence of these movements, gender roles was divided between the male and female sexes. These roles can be broadly classified into the productive and the reproductive gender roles. Whereas the productive gender roles were mainly associated with the male sex, reproductive gender roles were exclusive to their female counterparts.
The contribution of women to the social and economic development of societies is also more than half as compared to that of men by virtue of their dual roles in the productive and reproductive spheres. Yet their participation in formal political structures and processes, where decisions regarding the use of societal resources generated by both men and women are made, remains insignificant. Despite the pronounced commitment of the international community to gender equality and bridging the gap in the formal political arena as reinforced by the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,…
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Every society in the international system is made up of males and females who contribute in different proportions to not just the society to which they belong but also the international system. Looking at the history of states that make up the international system and their political structures, the representation and participation of women has been meagre. This does not just affect individuals and the states whose citizens they are but also the international community. Even though there have been few success records of women in international politics, the glass ceiling which prevents women from participating in international politics or even attaining higher positions in international political institutions is still very much in place as the world is believed to be a man’s world. The questions then remain why are women side-lined? Can the glass ceiling which is an unacknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities be done away with? Will women and men ever enjoy an equal level of political participation and representation? With over 50% of the world’s population which include women being underrepresented, can democracy in societies in the world which upholds the principles of equality, freedom and rule of law still be said to be in place? Have the aims of the United Nations General Assembly through the adoption of the convention on the political rights of women which is the first international legislation protecting the equal status of women to exercise political rights been achieved? Has the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) been able to achieve its purpose? Evidence of the systematic research of women’s participation in international politics is very scanty despite its obvious consequences on the peaceful coexistence of individuals and states within the international political system. This however does not mean that scholars have not engaged in the general description of gender inequality and women participation in the international political system. Scholars like Cynthia Enloe (2000), J. Ann Tickner (1992), Sylvia Walby (1990) and so many others have made obvious the presence of patriarchy in the international political system, given general descriptions as to what gender inequality in the international political system is and how women have not been given equal opportunities as men. However, none of these scholars have been able to bring to limelight the activities of the United Nations and other International Organizations in their bid to end all forms of discrimination against females, neither have they been able to state its impacts on growth and development in the world. The purpose of this study is therefore to provide answers to the questions mentioned above and also to fill in the existing gaps in available literary works.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the participation of women in international politics and the challenges they face. Other objectives of this study include:
1) To identify the causes of gender inequality in international politics
2) To determine if the conferences and conventions held for the equality of the sexes in politics have in any way increased women’s participation in politics.
3) To proffer solutions to the limitations and challenges faced by women in international politics.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This research seeks to provide answers to the following questions:
1) What are the major roles of women in politics and why should women be given equal opportunity as men to particip