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Nigerian Women in Politics: 24 Years After the Return to Electoral Democracy

Since Nigeria's return to electoral democracy in 1999, following a long period of coups and military rule, the democratic process of the country has not been without its own challenges, particularly regarding women's engagement in the political process (Hoffmann, Wallace, 2022). The last 24 years have not offered equal place to women and men in both elected and appointed political positions. Women have encountered barriers that differ from those men face. Sometimes, they are subjected to unfair scrutiny and held to higher standards. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian Minister of Finance, captures that reality eloquently when she submitted, “There is no right way to be a woman leader”(Gillard, Okonjo-Iweala, 2020). Since 1999, no Nigerian woman has been elected president, vice-president, or governor. Additionally, the number of seats occupied by women Senators, in each legislative session, has never gone above nine out of 109 seats. This low level of representation reflects the challenge that women still face in the country. This paper discusses how Nigerian women have fared in both elected and appointed political positions 24 years after the return to democracy. It investigates the historical representation of women in political positions, as well as the issues women in politics face in career progression. The paper expatiates on issues including constitutional limitations, cultural and religious bias, gendered information disorder, party structure, male alignment, and the roles of women leaders in major parties.
Chioma Iruke

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