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Education as Ameliorating Factor to Hindrances of Females Aspirations to Leadership Position in Imo State

by

Dr. Lucy M. Apakama                                                                                                                                                               School of languages, Alvan Ikoku Federal College Of Education,                                                                                              Owerri Imo State, Nigeria                                                                                                                                                         08037734659 apakamalucy@yahoo.com

 and

Dr. Ezeala, Romanus A. M.                                                                                                                                                   School of Early Childhood and Primary Education , Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education,                                           Owerri, Imo state, Nigeria                                                                                                                                                       08038970344 romanusezeala1960@yahoo.com

Abstract

This paper on “Education as ameliorating factor to hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions was focused on Imo State, Nigeria. Part of the literature observed that Igbo are hardworking and egalitarian society. The paper was hinged on theory of liberal feminism which seeks to interpret discrimination against women in the context of the society and culture. The main purpose of the paper was to find out how education is an ameliorating factor to hindrances of females’ aspirations to leadership positions in Imo State. Three research questions were posed. The population of the study was 1,357,235 and the sample size was three hundred. Questionnaire was used for the data collection while the findings among others include, that in Imo State, education is not an ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions. Gender is not also a hindrance tofemale aspirations to leadership positions. The researchers therefore recommended that orientation programmes should be organized for educated females to participate and aspire for leadership positions. Gender should not be a hindrance to leadership positions and parents, husbands and the government should encourage the females to aspire for leadership positions.

Keywords: Leadership, women, education and aspiration.

 

Introduction:

The traditional Nigerian society is organised around a patriarchal system that automatically perpetuates the dominance of the masculine gender in almost every facet of societal life. This traditional set up is perpetuated through customs, taboos and leadership structure. These serve as mechanism for subjugating women to an inferior and subservient position. Women in all cultures and all ages have had to contend with these issues in order to be accorded their rightful place as human beings who should enjoy and benefit from the same fundamental human rights as their male counterparts. The enshrining of fundamental human rights in the 1999 constitution consequently assures women of their inalienable right to participate in leadership at all levels. Centuries of subjugation and the slow level of implementation of constitutional statutes have however not allowed women to seize the opportunity presented by changing global trends to aspire to leadership roles and self-determination.       

Traditionally, the Igbo are hardworking and egalitarian in society. Most parts of the world however, are faced with the challenges of social organisation which are inimical to the aspirations of the female members of the society. Developed societies around the world have also grappled with these same issues and come up with frameworks and templates to guide the dismantling of these problems. One of such templates is the recognition of the role of patriarchy in the social arrangement and how it has structured the society with the resultant effect of females being subjugated to subservient roles in the society.

Pre-colonial Igbo society was organised around kinship and age groups. These associations include age grades, titled men such as the “Nze na ọzọ”, women’s groups such as the Ụmụada and Out Alụtaradi. These groups were organised in such a way that power was not concentrated in a particular individual. Rather the Igbo operated what has been described as a parallel (Igwebuike, 2014) or dual-sex (Okoroji, 2010) structure which allowed both sexes to operate in an autonomous but complementary system to ensure the smooth functioning of the society.

Igbo women have always been politically conscious and managed their affairs separate from the men. Their political structure was established in two groups namely the otu- ụmụada and out alụtaradi groups. These groups were so powerful that they engaged the British colonialists in an anticolonial struggle known as the war of women or otu ụmụnwanyị in 1929 (lgwebuike, 2014).

With the background of British colonialism however, Igbo women seem to have lost relevance in the socio-political sphere. They have rather been consigned to playing a secondary role in the sociopolitical sphere. The present structure of the society which has become definitely patriarchal in nature and the gendered political system being operated in Nigeria has successfully maneuvered women out of the political scheme of things.

Literature review

The Igbo political structure was organised in such a way that women were directly involved in the public sphere, the socio-political arena through socially recognised institutions (Odoemenam, 2010). The advent of colonialism however, placed women at the fringes of socio-political arrangement. Women had a prominent role in the daily administration of justice, which promotes public peace in the various Igbo communities (Okoroji,2010). Women’s role was ensured through a dual sex political system. This system ensures that each sex managed its own affairs and had its own kinship institutions, age grades, secret and title societies, (Azuka,2008, Odoemenam, 2010).

This system allowed each sex to operate without infringing on the other’s territory, (Okoro,2013). Thus women were politically important and relevant in the scheme of things. (Uchendu, 1996). “Women in the south-east Nigeria wielded enormous powers by virtue of their position as daughters of the lineage.” (Anyaoha, 2008). Enuwa (2009), said that, “however the paternalistic propensity of African culture, especially Igbo culture, did not indicate subjugation of women. On the contrary, women in traditional Igbo societies were forces in political, legal and social issues long before the colonialists arrived in Africa and even during and after colonialism, women had been a powerful part of the Igbo society.” Thus Igbo women were credited with immense power which they used to control the men. (Odoemenam, 2010).

In traditional Igbo systems, women had their own meetings or assemblies. Such congregations had been pictured as the base of women political power (Okoroji,2010). These meetings were at two levels (Odoemenam, 2010), the Ụmụada level and the Alụtaradi. The first is the exogamous union of daughters married to other communities but retain their ties to their natal homes. Enuwa(2007) describes Ụmụada as collectively of all the daughters of a particular clan, village, town, or state whether old, young, single, married, separated or divorced.” According to him, it was the inalienable right of every daughter of a particular place, without exception to belong to an otu-ụmụada. “the society of native daughters”.

In the same vein, otu-Alụtaradi refers to the wives of men in a particular locality, village or community. These women come from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds, (Green, 1964). Women formed societies based upon membership not only in the villages into which they were married, but also in those into which they were born. (Walsh, 1974). Dine (2012), opines that both groups maintained order, promote life and bring consolidation, joy and solidarity among themselves and to the village community.

Another pre-colonial socio-cultural institution among the Igbo was the village assembly. (Odoemenam, 2010). This was open to all adults who chose to attend and participate. Even though men were more likely to be visible, and noticeable than the women, in such gatherings, however, older women were respected, age being one factor which mitigated age differences. (Erich, 1985) said leaders of the traditional Igbo Assembly were both men and women, who above all posed a sense of moral integrity, humane personality and were bequeathed with a high degree of traditional wisdom. (Okoroji, 2010).

In her critical study of the Aba women 1929, Green (1964), substantiated the massive political and social power of Igbo women. The otu-alụtaradi provided the Igbo women with collective bargaining powers to safeguard against the excesses of male dominance and to deal with men who jeopardize women’s interests. They engaged in the protocol of what they termed “sitting on a man.” This protocol was engaged in to deal with men who either beat their wives, or have incurred the wrath of the women in one way or the other (Igwebuike,2014).

The advent of colonialism however changed the pattern of leadership in Igbo land. The colonial masters though the instrumentality of trade, government work and religion relegated women to the background and perpetuated a system which was more favourable to men. Men for instance were employed in the colonial civil service. They were also involved in the production of cash crops for export which empowered them economically while women were involved in the production of food crop. This was enhanced by the fact that women did not own land, thus they had no access to the means of production.

Theoretical framework

This work is hinged on the theory of liberal feminism which seeks to interpret discrimination against women in the context of the society and culture. The Nigerian society and culture is highly dominated by patriarchal tendencies as women are still seen as second class citizens who should only be seen and not heard. This is still persisting in spite of their immense contributions right from the precolonial era to the society. For instance,women were involved in leadership in other societies in precolonial Nigeria apart from Igbo land. This included nation states like Zauzau or present day Zaria, Ife, Oyo and Daura. Thus the concept of gender discrimination in leadership is both alien and counterproductive to the development of the Nigerian society.

Several international conferences and agreements have sought to highlight the fact of the theory and discriminatory set up in the society and advance the ability of women to be given access to their rightful positions as human beings with dignity and ability to contribute meaningfully to the progress of society, such international conferences and agreements includes the United Nations declaration of the years 1975-1985 as the international decade for women, the Vienna human rights conference of 1993 and the Beijing conference of 1995 which advocated for 35% affirmative action for women in all political and leadership positions. Other countries in the world have since exceeded this requirement; for example Rwanda (45%) and S Africa (65%). The situation is however different in Nigeria as studies have shown that in all the elections conducted in Nigeria from 2003, 2007 and 2011 women were only able to gain 5% of the seats in both the upper and lower houses. Situation at the state and local government levels were not different. This,in spite of the fact that it has been clearly documented that women form the highest bulk in terms of registered voters, they actively campaign for their male counterparts and have the largest turn out in terms of voting. This however, only culminates in victory for their male counterparts.

Studies have sought to find out why women in spite of their greater numbers are not able to have any significant impact in terms of political power. Different reasons have been adduced for that. These includes political apathy by women, lack of funds, lack of family support based on the fact that most political meetings are in the night, lack of internal party democracy, electoral violence, traditional belief,disunity among women. This is in spite of the fact that article 42 of the Nigerian constitution enshrines it as a fundamental right for women not to be discriminated against in terms of their political aspirations.

The Nigerian society which is rooted in patriarchy seeks to continue the male domination of the leadership sphere through various cultural and societal norms and values. These include the fact that women are economically disadvantaged, they are not able to access capital and credit because they do not own land which is the basic collateral in order to access loans. The methods of socialisation of the young ones in the homes and in the society continue to perpetuate a view of women as being subordinate and only fitting into careers that are service oriented such as nursing and teaching. Women often tend to have very poor sense of self value and self-esteem. The biological function of motherhood, breastfeeding and nurturing also serves to limit women’s ability to be focused and targeted in their aspirations for leadership.

This paper sets out to establish education as ameliorating factor to hindrances of women in Imo state to their leadership aspirations. This is in order to ascertain whether these barriers are real or imagined and thus enable solutions to be proffered for a forward movement of the women folk.

Methodology

Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study is to find out how education is an ameliorating factor to hindrances of female aspirations to leadership position in Imo state. Specifically, the study aims as follows:

  1. To find out whether education is ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions.
  2. To identify whether gender is a hindering factor on female aspiration to leadership position.
  • To find out whether family socio-economic status is a hindering factor on female aspiration to leadership position.

Research Questions:

The researchers have posed the following questions to enable them realize the purpose of this study:

  1. To what extent is education an ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions?
  2. To what extent is gender a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions?
  • To what extent is family socio-economic status a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions?

Area of study

Imo state has three geo-political zones. They are Okigwe zone, Orlu zone, and Owerri zone. The zones have six, twelve and nine Local Government Areas respectively. Therefore, Imo state has twenty-seven local Government areas. According to the National Population Census of 2006, Imo state has a total population of 3,927,563. From this population, 1,976,471 are male while 1,951 092 are female. Imo State has boundaries with Abia, Anambra, Rivers respectively

Population of the study

The study population is made up of 1,220,00 women and 1,235,235 adult males in the  three geopolitical zones as indicated by National Population Commission and 2006 Census. The total population of the study is therefore 1,357,235.

Sample and sampling technique

The researchers through random sampling technique selected one local government from each of the three geopolitical zones. The local government areas are Ehime Mbano in Okigwe Zone, AhiazuMbaise in Owerri Zone and Njaba in Orlu Zone. Similarly, with the use of simple random sampling technique, the researchers selected one hundred rural dwellers from an autonomous community in each of the already selected Local Government Areas. They are Nzerem in Ehime -Mbano, Obohia in AhiazuMbaise and Umuele-Amazano in Njaba Local Government Areas. Descriptive survey research was adopted for this study. This was to enable the use of representative sample from the population and to draw conclusions based on the analysis of collected data. The simple random sampling technique was also adopted for equal and independent chance of every subject being selected.

Method of data collection

The researchers constructed a questionnaire titled Education as Ameliorating factor to hindrances of women to leadership position Questionnaire  (EAFHWLPQ). Itcomprised of two parts. Part A sought for personal data of the respondents while part B was a 4point Likert type scalecontaining 10 items that measured factors affecting women’s aspiration to leadership. An eight item structured interview was also constructed to elicit information from those that cannot read or write. The questionnaire has four response options ranging from Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D) and Strongly Disagree (SD). The respondents were required to tick ( √ ) one of the four options to indicate their extent of agreement or disagreement with each item. The instruments were validated by two experts in Measurement and Evaluation from Imo State University and Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, all in Owerri.

The reliability of the instrument was determined using Cronbarch Alpha. Reliability coefficient of 0.76 was obtained. This was high enough to consider the instrument reliable. The researchers engaged twelve research assistants who were final year students of various departments of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of education Owerri. The researchers and the research assistants distributed the copies of the questionnaire which were collected after a week. The researchers administered the structured interviews one on one with the non-literate respondents. This lasted for three weeks. Though many were reluctant to respond to the instruments, but when they were assured of the confidentiality of their response, they co-operated with the researchers.

 

Method of data analysis

The data collected were analysed using means and standard deviation. The criterion measure of 2.50 was used. Items that obtained a mean score of 2.50 and above were accepted or agreed, while those that had a mean score below 2.50 were not accepted or disagreed.

Data Analysis and Results

Research Question 1:  To what extent is education an ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions?

Table 1:  Mean rating on the extent of education as ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions.

S/N ITEM SA A D SD TOTAL DECISION
1. Most women are not educated enough for leadership position 145

145

89

178

28

84

38

152

300

559

 

1.9

Rejected
2. Culture does not allow women to go to school to enable them lead 78

78

65

130

97

291

60

240

300

739

 

2.5

Accepted
3. Domestic chores do not allow educated females to vie for leadership positions. 75

 

75

81

 

162

67

 

201

77

 

308

300

 

746

 

2.5

 

Accepted

 

GRAND MEAN (X̅)             =              2.3

In table one above, though items two and three accepted that education is ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions, the grand mean (X̅) 2.3 indeed shows that education is not ameliorating factor to the hindrances of female aspirations to leadership positions in Imo State. This implies that the females need to be more properly oriented and guided towards the use of their education for leadership positions.

 

Research Question 2:  To what extent is gender a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions?

 

Table 2: Mean rating on the extent gender is a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions.

 

S/N ITEM SA A D SD TOTAL DECISION
4. Males see females as inferior for leadership 115

115

50

100

71

213

64

256

300

684

 

2.3

 

Rejected

5. Females do not support their fellow females for leadership positions 133

133

85

170

41

123

41

164

300

590

 

2.0

 

Rejected

6. Females do not possess financial resources to enable them vie for leadership positions 87

 

87

37

 

74

64

 

192

116

 

464

300

 

817

 

2.7

 

Accepted

7. Female do not aspire for leadership positions because of associated violence 102

 

102

97

 

194

43

 

129

58

 

232

300

 

657

 

2.2

 

Rejected

8. No equal opportunities for leadership between males and females 54

54

86

172

46

138

114

456

300

820

 

2.7

 

Accepted

9. Inferiority complex affect females’ aspirations for leadership positions 67

67

63

126

77

231

93

372

300

796

 

2.7

 

Accepted

 

GRAND MEAN   =              2.4

Items 4, 5 and 7 rejected that gender hinders female aspirations to leadership positions while items 6, 8 and 9 accepted that gender is a hindering factor on male aspirations to leadership positions. All in all, grand mean (X̅) of 2.4 rejected that gender is a hindering factor. By this, gender is not a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions in Imo State.

Research Questions 3:  To what extent is family socio-economic status a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions.

Table 3:  Mean rating on the extent of family socio-economic status is a hindering factor on female aspirations to leadership positions.

 

 

 

S/N ITEM SA A D SD TOTAL DECISION
10. Parents do not support females for leadership positions 58

58

53

106

79

237

110

440

300

841

 

2.8

 

Agreed

11. Husbands do not allow their wives for leadership positions 41

41

62

124

101

303

96

384

300

852

 

2.8

 

Agreed

 

Items 10 and 11 agreed both parents and husbands do not allow the females aspire for leadership positions. This is in line with the traditional belief that the suppression of females for leadership positions begins from the families. Such suppression may be due to poverty or the impression that females in leadership positions are wayward, lack respect for both the elders and their husbands. They do not also have time for the welfare of their families.

These findings are in line with the opinions of Ibewuike (2013) who said that Igbo women seem to have lost relevance in the socio-political sphere of Nigeria and Imo state in particular. They have rather been consigned to playing a secondary role in the leadership positions in Imo state.

Conclusion

The level of female education has tremendously improved in Nigeria and Imo state in particular but the fact remains that this has not been effectively transformed into leadership positions. The females have not been given equal opportunity of leadership even when it is trumpeted that they have equal play ground with the men. The parents and the husbands of these females start from the homes to dissuade them from aspiring to leadership positions.

Recommendations

From the finding, the researchers make the following recommendations:

  1. Orientation programmes should continuously be organized for the educated females to participate and aspire for leadership positions.
  2. Gender should no longer be a hindrance to leadership positions. Females should effectively use the outcome of Beling conference to overcome the effects of male chauvinism.
  3. Parents, husbands and the government should encourage the females to aspire for leadership positions.

References

Anyaoha, R.N. (2008). Rights of women in their maiden homes. Ibadan: Alatere Publishers.

Azuka, U.N. (2008). “Using Audio-Visual Technology in women”. Journal of Educational Planning and Policy.

Dine, D. (2012). Religion and Culture in Africa. New York: Prenhill

Enuwa, P.O. (2007). The Gaps in Women’s Education. Onitsha: Cecibokana Press

Enuwa, P.O. (2009). Subjugation of Igbo women. Enugu: Starlite Publishing.

Erich, P. (1985). Men and women of moral integrity and humane personality. Toronto: J.M. Dent and sons

FRN (1999). Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Lagos: Federal Government Press

FRN (2006). National Population Commission. Abuja: Federal Government Press.

Green, P. (1964). Women’s riot in Eastern Nigeria. London: Routhtlage books.

Igwebuike, S.N. (2014). Colonialism and Culture. Owerri: Fep Publishers.

Odoemenam, V.C. (2010). Igbo Traditional setting. Lagos: Durojaiye Publishers.

Okoro, A.O. (2013). Need for female education in 21st Century; Journal of education and psychology Vol. 1.

Okoroji, L.N. (2010). Access to quality female education. Owerri: Mercy Divine Publishers.

Uchendu, C.C. (1996). Empowering women in Imo State. Owerri: Africa Publishers.

Walsh, F.O. (1974). Women in the maintenance of order and Promotion of Life. New York: Clifton Park.

 

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