GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SYSTEM

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  • Name: GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SYSTEM
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ABSTRACT

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of data collection (questionnaire) as well as secondary sources of data collection such as published books, journals, unpublished thesis and internet materials were adopted.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.
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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.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… i
Certification……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….ii
Dedication………………………………………………………………………………………………………………iii
Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………………………………………………..iv
Table of contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………v
Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..viii
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background information…………………………………………………………………………………..1
1.2 Statement of the problem………………………………………………………………………………….7
1.3 Objective of the study………………………………………………………………………………………8
1.4 Research questions…………………………………………………………………………………………..9
1.5 Significance of the study…………………………………………………………………………………..9
1.6 Research Methods……………………………………………………………………………………………9
1.7 Scope of the Study…………………………………………………………………………………………..10
1.8 Organization of the study………………………………………………………………………………….10
1.9 Definition of terms…………………………………………………………………………………………..10
Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………….13
Review of literature on:
2.1 Gender…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..13
2.2 Gender Inequality……………………………………………………………………………………………..14
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2.3 Patriarchy……………………………………………………………………………………………………..18
2.4 Political Participation………………………………………………………………………………………19
2.5 Gender Inequality in the International Political System…………………………………………..20
2.5.1 Hillary Clinton……………………………………………………………………………………………….22
2.5.2 Condoleezza Rice…………………………………………………………………………………………..23
2.5.3 Margaret Thatcher…………………………………………………………………………………………..25
2.6 Theoretical Framework……………………………………………………………………………………..27
2.6.1 Conflict Theory………………………………………………………………………………………………27
2.6.2 Feminist Theory…………………………………………………………………………………………….28
Chapter Three: Methodology
3.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………32
3.1 Research design…………………………………………………………………………………………………32
3.2 Research Population……………………………………………………………………………………………33
3.3 Sample and Sampling techniques…………………………………………………………………………..33
3.4 Research Instrument…………………………………………………………………………………………….33
3.5 Validity and Reliability of instruments…………………………………………………………………34
3.6 Data Collection Techniques…………………………………………………………………………………..34
3.7 Data analysis…………………………………………………………………………………………………….35
Chapter Four: Data Presentation and Analysis
4.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………36
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4.1 Analysis of personal information of the respondents…………………………………………………36
4.2 Analysis of response to questions………………………………………………………………………….38
4.3 Factors responsible for the low participation of women in international politics………….44
Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………….48
5.1 Summary……………………………………………………………………………………………………………48
5.2 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………………………….49
5.3 Recommendations………………………………………………………………………………………………..50
Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………………………..52
Appendix ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..57

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
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
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(CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform of Action, women are highly marginalized and are poorly represented in political activities (UNDP Report, 2005). Women have not been given chances to participate in politics simply because they are women and are regarded as not fit for politics. The discrimination against women has been in place since time immemorial. From generation to generation the dogma that women are inferior to men has been passed on. Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress said that “the emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says “it’s a girl” (Shirley Chisholm quotes,www.profeminist.tumblr.com accessed on 22nd December 2014). From the day they are born to the day they die, women are treated like second class citizens whose opinions do not hold water. Societies in the world have always been patriarchal in nature and are all about the rule and superiority of men and sadly, the oppression of women.
Patriarchy can be said to be a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization. According to Rich (1977:57) patriarchy is a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men by force, direct pressure or through ritual, tradition, law and language, customs etiquette, education and the division of labor determine what part women shall or shall not play in which the female everywhere is subsumed under the male. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege and is dependent on female subordination. The concept of Patriarchy was also defined by Walby (1990:20) as a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women….the use of the term social structures is important here, since it clearly implies the rejection both of biological determinism and the notion that every individual man is in a dominant position and every woman in a subordinate one…..patriarchy is composed of six structures: the patriarchal mode of production, patriarchal relations in paid work , patriarchal relations in the state, male violence, patriarchal relations in sexuality and
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patriarchal relations in cultural institutions…” The patriarchal mode of production refers to the undervalued work of housewives who are the producing class, while husbands are the expropriating class. The second level, which describes patriarchal relations in paid work refers to the fact that traditionally women have been granted worse jobs. The level which is about patriarchal relations in the state refers to the fact that that the state is patriarchal, racist and capitalist and it clearly has bias towards patriarchal interests. Male violence constitutes the fourth structure and explains how men’s violence against women is systematically endured and tolerated by the state’s refusal to intervene against it. The fifth level describes patriarchal relations towards sexuality, where patriarchy has decided for us that heterosexuality is and should be the norm. The sixth level which is about patriarchal relations in cultural institutions describes the male gaze within various cultural institutions, such as the media, and how women have been traditionally exhibited via the mass media etcetera (Walby,1990).
Patriarchy was taken up by Max Weber in order to describe a form of household organization in which the father dominated an extended network of kinship and controlled the production of the household. While patriarchy literally means „the rule of the fathers‟, its resonance for feminism is based on the theory put forward by early radical feminists to conceptualize a general category of male dominance. Patriarchy can therefore be said to be the oppressive control of women by men.
Most forms of feminism characterize patriarchy as an unjust social system that is unjust to women. In the feminist theory, the concept of patriarchy often includes all the social mechanisms that reproduce and exert male dominance over women. Patriarchy is everything feminism is against. Although anti-feminists however regard patriarchy as a term coined or an excuse used by feminists to blame men for their problems and shortcomings, a patriarchal society is usually characterized by the following: lack of property control by women, low
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value placed on the labor of women, lack of domestic authority of women, lack of male-female joint participation in warfare, work and community decision making, lack of women’s indirect influence on decision making, just to mention but a few.
Patriarchy and gender inequality are the orders of the day in the international political system as women are sidelined or given meager duties to perform. Women are believed to be unable to handle politics. Women are believed to be meant strictly for childbearing and managing the home front while men take over what they believe to be the real deals which are politics or power and leadership. If the situation at home is one of subordination and mistreatment what then do we expect from the world at large. Myths and traditions have led men to believe that they are superior to women. Democracy which is supposed to promote the equality of all has historically served men better than women. As a political system from ancient Greece to the modern times of the 21st century, it has built on the public private dichotomy and excluded women from citizenship. Women have been kept outside the public domain of politics as most of the political thinkers and philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Hegel considered women fit for only domestic roles in the private sphere and maintained that there was no place for women in politics because of their suitability in caring roles as mothers and wives. The public- private divide remains the foundation of the various forms of world democracies (Phillips, 1998; Rai, 2000). In most societies in the world, female children are regarded as temporary members of the family and the males the owners or permanent members and the males enjoy what the females are denied. Right from inception, the male gender is made to feel superior to the female. Thus, house chores and other activities are burdened on the female who is being trained to be good, obedient and useful for her future husband as she would sooner or later be married out of the house. The male child in this case looks at himself as the hero of the house and his sister as somebody there to wait on him and to fulfil his desires. This mentality develops until he
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establishes a home of his own and then just like his father sees his wife and daughters as disposable properties of his. Women are trained to surrender to men in all things as the society has made them believe that they were created to make the lives of men easier and not compete with them so it is expected of them to obey in all conditions. If women are treated as lower class citizens and are not allowed to take decisions in their homes how then will they be able to take active part in politics and decision making processes of their societies? Women are made to believe that their natural role and duty is to procreate and serve men, live at their mercies and so they “dare not” dabble into anything they regard as the sole prerogative of men like politics. In the Soviet Union some time ago, the situation was worse to the extent that in order to keep women off from aspiring to the male’s world the feet of their women from age six were bound in order to present them as ideals for the males (Wang, 2002). Thomas Aquinas (1223-1274) believes that women are defective and accidental, they are a male gone awry and the result of some weakness in the (father’s) generative power or of some external factor, like the south wind, which is damp (Scott 1979:89). Martin Luther (1483-1546) as quoted in Scott (1979) also opines that: if a woman grows weary and at least dies from childbearing it matters not. Let her only die from bearing, she is there to do it (Scott 1979:91). Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) as quoted in Scott (1979) says: nature intended women to be our slaves, they are our property we are not theirs, they belong to us just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to a gardener, what a mad idea, just to demand equality for women. Women are nothing but machines for producing children (Scott 1979:95) Spiro T. Agnew also says: I leave you with the words of an old Welsh proverb “Three things are untameable, fools, women and the sea salt” (Scott 1979:100). Bengali also expresses that a woman’s heaven is under her husband’s feet (Scott 1979:110). Thus in summary the male world sees women as: breeders, big talkers, gossips, passive, devious, un-direct, better with
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children, emotional, irrational, not serious, silly, preoccupied with details, machines, slaves, property, accidental, etcetera (Legahorn and Parker, 1981:40).
Different religions all over the world have also not helped matters as to women’s place in the society. Over the years, women have proven to be useful in the development of their societies and not just in the kitchen. Examples of such women are Dorothy Hodgkin a chemist whose discoveries led to the structure of penicillin and insulin which have led to significant improvements in health care, Emily Murphy the first woman magistrate in the British empire. In 1927 she joined forces with four other Canadian women and challenged an old Canadian law that said “women should not be counted as persons”. There was also Elizabeth Cady Stanton a social rights activist and leading figure in the early women’s rights movements, she was one of the key figures that helped create the early women’s suffrage movements in the US, she was the reason why American women were given the right to vote (women who changed the world www.biographyonline.net accessed on 22nd December 2014). There were and still are also Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf etcetera who have and still are making waves in the international political system. These are just few out of so many women that have made great impacts in global politics.
The international political system refers to an environment in which actors (typically states) interact. The international system consists of several states which are grouped into six continents namely: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America. States in theses continents have established alliances with each other, gone to war with one another and colonized one another over the years. The international system is said to be anarchic in nature as states just like individuals are after the achievement of their selfish interests. The international system is a field where power politics is in play.
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From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are restricted. Women are underrated as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, the private sector or academia. Despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change and their rights to participate equally in democratic governance, they are still relegated to the background. Even in the world democracy the United States gender inequality is still very much in practice. Even in the United Nations, a body that is supposed to uphold the principles of democracy and equality, there has never been a female Secretary-General.
The purpose of this thesis is not to advocate for the superiority of women over men, or the adoption of a matriarchal international political society but to advocate for equal rights of men and women and also to prove that women just like men are capable of participating successfully in politics.
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
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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
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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 participate in politics?
2) Have the contributions of women in politics helped the international system or the world at large?
3) What are the causes of gender inequality?
4) Have the conferences and conventions held for the equality of the sexes in politics in any way increased women‟s participation in politics?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this topic cannot be over emphasized as this topic has been an issue of international concern and also a topic of heated debates among scholars of the world. Politics is the main stake of the world as it determines the goings-on in the world. It determines what happens and what does not; who gets what and who does not. This study would help to increase knowledge and also proffer working solutions that would help policy makers and also world governments to address the issue of gender inequality in countries of the world. This research pertaining to its availability will help empower the public, give women a sense of worth and also increase the attention given to women’s participation in politics.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODS
Primary and secondary sources of data collection were used in this project. The primary sources of data collection which includes the use of well-structured questionnaires were distributed to a sample population for filling which showed their opinions on the issues raised
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and secondary sources which include information gotten from books, journals, newspapers and magazines, unpublished materials, and materials from internet were also used. Quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis were adopted in analyzing the data generated, and these provided the basis for the conclusions and recommendations reached.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
It is important to have case studies and also a time frame as this will make it possible to study relevant happenings in few places during a particular time, through this means the derivation of accurate results is certain. This study will cover three international female leaders that have made impacts in the international system. These women are; Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. The lives, political struggles and achievements of these women will be discussed in the course of this study.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF STUDY
For easy comprehension and understanding of this topic, the work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one will be the introduction of the work, chapter two discusses the literature review that is, review of past literatures by scholars, chapter three treats the data and methodology, the analysis of the results is done in chapter four and finally chapter five contains the summary, recommendations and conclusion.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Various terms were used in the cause of explaining the different components of this topic, and these terms will be briefly explained here so as to make understanding easier. Such terms include:
A. Patriarchy
According to Rich (1977:57) patriarchy is a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men by force, direct pressure or through ritual, tradition, law and language, customs etiquette, education and the division of labour determine what part women shall or shall not
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play in which the female everywhere is subsumed under the male. The concept Patriarchy was also defined by Walby Sylvia (Walby 1990:20) as a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women….the use of the term social structures is important here, since it clearly implies the rejection both of biological determinism and the notion that every individual man is in a dominant position and every woman in a subordinate one.”
B. Democracy
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined democracy as „Government of the people, by the people, for the people.‟ Democracy is a diffusion of power, representation of interests, and recognition of minorities. Democracy is a political system in which different groups are legally entitled to compete for power and in which institutional power holders are elected by the people and are responsible to the people (Schmitter & Terry, 1991). Democracy is a society based on equal opportunity and individual merit, rather than hierarchy and privilege. It is also seen as a system of government that serves the interests of the people regardless of their participation in political life (Heywood, 2002).
The Merriam-Webstar dictionary (www.merriam-webstar.com accessed on 27th December, 2014) defines democracy as a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodic free elections. Democracy simply put is a system of government in which the people have a say and take active part in the decision making processes of their state. Democracy upholds the principles of equality and fundamental human rights.
C. Gender
Gender can be said to have originated from the Middle English gendre, from Anglo-French genre, gendre, from Latin gener-, genus birth, race, kind, gender. It could be said to be more at the state of being male or female. Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings and behaviours that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behaviours that are compatible
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with cultural expectations are referred to as gender-normative; behaviours that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity (APA, 2011)
D. Gender Inequality
Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure and hormonal differences (gender inequality www.wikipedia.org accessed on 22nd December 2014)
E. Political Participation
“Participation,” from the Latin word participatio, which means ‘taking part’. Political participation encompasses the many activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. Political participation derives from the freedom to speak out, assemble and associate; the ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs and the opportunity to register as a candidate, to campaign, to be elected and to hold office at all levels of government. Political Participation means activity by private citizen designed to influence government decision-making (Huntington & Nelson, 1976: 3). According to Oxford Dictionary of Politics (www.oxforddictionaries.com accessed on 27th December, 2014) political participation means taking part in politics: the general level of participating in a society is the extent to which the people as a whole are active in politics.

 

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