Non Standard Leadership Techniques

Gender Sensitivity Among Nigerian Ethnic Group

owomero stanley asked:


“Gender”, in common usage, refers to the differences between men and women. Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that gender identity is “an individual’s self-conception as being male or female, as distinguished from actual biological sex.” Although “gender” is commonly used interchangeably with “sex,” within the academic fields of cultural studies, gender studies and the social sciences in general, the term “gender” often refers to purely social rather than biological differences. Some view gender as a social construction rather than a biological phenomenon.

According to; The word gender comes from the Middle English gendre, a loanword from Norman-conquest-era Middle French. This, in turn, came from Latin genus. Both words mean ‘kind’, ‘type’, or ‘sort’. They derive ultimately from a widely attested Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root gen-, which is also the source of kin, kind, king and many other English words.[4] It appears in Modern French in the word genre (type, kind) and is related to the Greek root gen- (to produce), appearing in gene, genesis and oxygen. As a verb, it means breed in the King James Bible: 1616: Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind. — Leviticus 19:19

The gender awareness among Nigerian of different ethnic group varies, and this can be viewed from the aspect of the major constraints women face in public/private and traditional positions: their overall work load and the moral pressures and negative attitudes of both men and women towards women in leadership. As a result, many women were not empowered to fit into for leadership positions. The study is therefore ment to show that for women to be able to participate meaningfully in democratic processes, including local politics, more support would be required for candidates for political positions at household as well as community levels. At the household level, women would need support and assistance with domestic chores in order to release time to participate in local politics and leadership. At community level, Local Councillors be they men or women, would need to better understand the existence of gender biases against women’s participation in local participation processes and their role and responsibilities to counter such biases.

On the other hand the Nigeria, The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for over half of West Africa’s population. Although less than 25% of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria’s 250 ethnic groups gives the country a rich diversity. The dominant ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani, most of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are predominant in the southwest.

About half of the Yorubas are Christian and half Muslim. The predominantly Catholic Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast, with the Efik, Ibibio, and Ijaw (the country’s fourth-largest ethnic group) comprising a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, and Ijaw are the most widely used Nigerian languages.

The Nok people in central Nigeria produced terracotta sculptures that have been discovered by archaeologists.[4] In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina has recorded history which dates back to around AD 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa. The Yoruba kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of the country were founded about 700-900 and 1400 respectively. Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Ifẹ produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Ọyọ extended as far as modern Togo. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Lagos which is also called “Eko” by the indigenes Now the role of gender will be different according to the ethnic groups in nigeria but before we dwell into that what is the term “gender role” A gender role is a set of perceived behavioral norms associated particularly with males or females, in a given social group or system. It can be a form of division of labour by gender. It is a focus of analysis in the social sciences and humanities. Gender is one component of the gender/sex system, which refers to “The set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality into products of human activity, and in which these transformed needs are satisfied” (Reiter 1975: 159). All societies, to a certain effect, have a gender/sex system, although the components and workings of this system vary widely from society to society. Most Authors recognize that the concrete behavior of individuals is a consequence of both socially enforced rules and values, and individual disposition, whether genetic, unconscious, or conscious. Some researchers emphasize the objective social system and others emphasize subjective orientations and dispositions. Creativity may cause the rules and values to change over time. Cultures and societies are dynamic and ever changing, but there has been extensive debate as to how, and how fast, they may change. Such debates are especially intense when they involve the gender/sex system, as people have widely differing views about how much gender depends on biological sex.


The aim of this research is to analyze women’s socio-economic roles, their changing contexts and opportunities, as it is in among various ethnic group in Nigeria over space and time, to achieve this the objectives are:

Analyze the roles of men and women at household and community levels

Identify common constraints to women’s participation in leadership positions

Identify ways through which communities can encourage and support women to participate in leadership at local levels

To analyze gender issues and the socio-economic role of women in the traditional and modern sectors,

To provide countrywide data on opportunities and constraints on women including status of women in education, health, politics, natural resources and civil society, and

To suggest policy measures to improve education and opportunities to enable women at all levels to participate in the new economic order effectively.


The study area is Nigeria, which has over three hundred and fifty(350) ethnic groups in 36 states, but the reseach will focus on the three major once with interest in other group such as Ijaw, Edo and Isoko ethnic groups they are introduce briefly below;

The Yoruba (Yorùbá in Yoruba orthography) are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language (èdèe Yorùbá; èdè = language). The Yoruba constitute approximately 21 percent of Nigeria’s total population,[1] and around 30 million individuals throughout the region of West Africa.[2] They share borders with the Borgu (variously called Bariba and Borgawa) in the northwest, the Nupe and Ebira in the north, the Ẹsan and Edo to the southeast, the Igala and other related groups to the northeast, and the Egun, Fon, and other Gbe-speaking peoples in the southwest. While the majority of the Yoruba live in southwestern Nigeria, there are also substantial indigenous Yoruba communities in Benin, Ghana and Togo, as well as large diasporic Yoruba communities in Sierra Leone, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Trinidad, the Caribbean, and the United States.The Yoruba are the main eth
nic group in the states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo, which are subdi
visions of Nigeria; they also constitute a sizable proportion of Kwara and Kogi states as well as of the Benin.Many people of African descent in the Americas have claim to Yoruba ancestry (along with several other ethnic groups) to some degree. A significant percentage of Africans enslaved during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade in the Americas were Yoruba.

The Igbo, sometimes (especially formerly) referred to as the Ibo, are a West African ethnic group numbering in the tens of millions. Most Igbos live in southeastern Nigeria, constituting about 17% of the population of the country; they can also be found in significant numbers in neighboring Cameroon and other African countries. Their language is the Igbo language.The traditional Igbo religion believes in a benevolent creator, usually known as Chukwu, who created the visible universe, the uwa. Opposing this force for good is agbara, meaning spirit or supernatural being.Apart from the natural level of the universe, they also believe that it exists on another level, that of the spiritual forces, the alusi. The alusi are minor deities, and are forces for blessing or destruction, depending on circumstances. They punish social offences and those who unwittingly infringe their privileges. The role of diviners is to interpret the wishes of the alusi, and the role of the priest is to placate them with sacrifices. Either a priest is chosen through hereditary lineage or he is chosen by a particular god for his service, usually after passing through a number of mystical experiences. Each person also has a personalised providence, which comes from Chukwu, and returns to him at the time of death, a chi. This chi may be good or bad.

The Hausa are a Sahelian people chiefly located in the West African regions of northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger. There are also significant numbers found in regions of Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Chad and smaller communities scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route across the Sahara Desert and Sahel. Many Hausa have moved to large coastal cities in West Africa such as Lagos, Accra and Cotonou, as well as to countries such as Libya, in search of jobs that pay cash wages. However, most Hausa remain in small villages, where they grow crops (Hausa farmers time their activities according to seasonal changes in rainfall and temperature) and raise livestock, including cattle. They speak the Hausa language, a member of the Chadic language group, itself a sub-group of the larger Afro-Asiatic language family.

The Ijaw (also known by the subgroups “Ijo” or “Izon”) are a collection of peoples indigenous mostly to the forest regions of the Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States within the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Some are natives of Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo states also in Nigeria. Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon along the West African coastline. They are believed to be some of the earliest inhabitants of southern Nigeria. The Ijo people number about 9 million. They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century

Isoko While some people believed that the Isoko people originated from the Benin Kingdom, others, like Professor Obaro Ikime, believe this to be untrue. Ikime states “If there is any aspect of the history of the various peoples of Nigeria about which no one can speak with any exactitude, it is that which deals with the origins of our peoples.”The belief that most of the Isoko groups are of Benin origin were views held and expressed in the 1960s and 1970s. These views were “decidedly simplistic and were based on British Intelligence Reports of the 1930s”and Ikime’s field work of 1961-1963

Edo people Benin City is called Edo by its inhabitants and in certain contexts individuals from all parts of the kingdom will refer to themselves as ovbiedo (child of Edo ). Except when speaking English, no Edo person ever refers to himself as “Benin” or “Bini”. These are non-Edo words of doubtful origin used by Europeans as an adjective and for the dominant people of the Edo kingdom and their language. Perhaps, this can be linked to the pre-colonial practice of naming areas after major geographic landmarks, in this case the Bight of Benin. It is on record that in 1472, the Portuguese captain Ruy de Siqueira brought a sailing ship as far as the Bight of Benin under the reign of Oba Ewuare. Egharevba provides further confirmation that Europeans named areas after major geographic landmarks. According to him, the label Lagos (the popular capital City of Nigeria) can be traced to the Portuguese because of its proximity to the lagoon. It has been suggested that “Benin” or “Bini” derive from the Yoruba phrase Ile-ibinu (land of vexation) which was purportedly uttered by Prince Oronmiyan declaring the fundamental fact that “only an Edo prince can rule over Edo land.” This Yoruba-based etymology of “Benin” or “Bini” is doubtful since there is evidence indicating that these words already occur in Portuguese writings about Edo dating back to the fifteenth century. According to Crowder, “unfortunately little is known about the early history of Oyo, for there was no written language, unlike Benin which was first visited by Europeans at the end of the fifteenth century.” Not until the end of the seventeenth century are there any definite dates for the history of Oyo which is no doubt linked to the later contact with the Europeans. The different close neighbors refer to the Edos by different names. For example, the Urhobos call the Edos ikhuorAka (the people of Aka), the Ikas (Agbor) use the label ndi-Iduu (the people of Iduu). Along this line of reasoning, the Yoruba phrase Ile-ibinu, later corrupted to Ubinu, may be Yoruba’s label for the Edos in light of the constant warfare against the Oyo empire by different Edo kings. This explanation is particularly striking because the Yorubas (for example, the Ekitis) refer to the Edo as Ado and not Ubinu. However, according to Egharevba it was Oba Ewuare Ne ogidigan (The great), about 1440 A.D to 1473 A.D, who changed the name of the country to Edo after his deified (servant) friend. Prior to this, the land had been called the land of Igodomigodo. Thus, the City has been known afterwards as Edo ne ebvo ahirre (Edo the City of love) because through love Edo (the servant friend) was able to save Ewuare from a sudden death.


The study will be limited to the areas such as

Cultures and gender roles,

Gender equity,

Women in leadership position,

Women empowerment,

Gender equity,

Women empowerment: education,

Women and HIV/AIDs,

All of the issues listed above will be viewed in terms of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria and more over what obtains at present compared to the past. The data would be collated and a comparative analysis would be made.


To begin with, ethnicity1 may be defined as “the employment or mobilization of ethnic identity and difference to gain advantage in situations of competition, conflict or cooperation” (Osaghae 1995:11). This definition is preferred because it identifies two issues that are central to discussions on ethnicity. The first is that ethnicity is neither natural nor accidental, but is the product of a conscious effort by social actors. The second is that ethnicity is not only manifest in conflictive or competitive relations but also in the contexts of cooperation. A corollary to the second point is that ethnic conflict manifests itself in various forms, including voting, community service and violence. Thus, it need not always have negative consequences. Ethnicity also encompasses the behaviour of ethnic groups. Ethnic groups are groups with ascribed membership, usually but not always based on claims or myths of common history, ancestry, language, race, religion, culture and territory. While all these variables
need not be present before a group is so d
efined, the important thing is that such a group is classified or categorised as having a common identity that distinguishes it from others. It is this classification by powerful agencies such as the state, religious institutions and the intelligentsia such as local ethnic historians that objectifies the ethnic group, often setting in motion processes of self-identification or affirmation and recognition by others. Thus, ethnicity is not so much a matter of ‘shared traits or cultural commonalities’, but the result of the interplay between external categorization and self-identification (Brubaker, Loveman and Stamatov 2004:31-32).

Most analysts agree on the basic constitutive elements of ethnic groups but disagree on how and why they were formed, why ethnicity occurs, why it occasionally results in violent conflicts and what should be done to prevent its perverse manifestations.. As Ake (2000) and Mustapha (2000) have correctly argued these distinctions have been overemphasized as use of one does not necessarily preclude the other. Most scholars combine more than one perspective in their analyses. Essentialism, the earliest of the four approaches, arose from cultural cartographies and greatly influenced modernization theorists whose positions became the points of departure of the other three approaches. The following sections examine the interplay between the ethnicity and gender issues


Working in the United States, Talcott Parsons developed a model of the nuclear family in 1955. (At that place and time, the nuclear family was considered to be the prevalent family structure.) It compared a strictly traditional view of gender roles (from an industrial-age American perspective) to a more liberal view.

Parsons believed that the feminine role was an expressive one, whereas the masculine role, in his view, was instrumental. He believed that expressive activities of the woman fulfill ‘internal’ functions, for example to strengthen the ties between members of the family. The man, on the other hand, performed the ‘external’ functions of a family, such as providing monetary support.

The Parsons model was used to contrast and illustrate extreme positions on gender roles. Model A describes total separation of male and female roles, while Model B describes the complete dissolution of barriers between gender roles.(The examples are based on the context of the culture and infrastructure of the United States but I have simulated it to that of Nigeria)

Model A – Total role segregation

Model B – Total disintegration of roles


Gender-specific education; high professional qualification is important only for the man

Co-educative schools, same content of classes for girls and boys, same qualification for men and women.


The workplace is not the primary area of women; career and professional advancement is deemed unimportant for women

For women, career is just as important as for men; Therefore equal professional opportunities for men and women are necessary.


Housekeeping and child care are the primary functions of the woman; participation of the man in these functions is only partially wanted.

All housework is done by both parties to the marriage in equal shares.

Decision making

In case of conflict, man has the last say, for example in choosing the place to live, choice of school for children, buying decisions

Neither partner dominates; solutions do not always follow the principle of finding a concerted decision; status quo is maintained if disagreement occurs.

Child care and education

Woman takes care of the largest part of these functions; she educates children and cares for them in every way

Man and woman share these functions equally.

Gender roles can influence all kinds of behavior, such as choice of clothing, choice of work and personal relationships; E.g., parental status and traditional belief in Nigeria.


The process through which the individual learns and accepts roles is called socialization. Socialization works by encouraging wanted and discouraging unwanted behavior. These sanctions by agencies of socialization such as the tradition, religion, family, schools, and the communication medium make it clear to the child what behavioral norms the child is expected to follow. The examples of the child’s parents, siblings and teachers are typically followed. Mostly, accepted behaviour is not produced by outright reforming coercion from an accepted social system. In some other cases, various forms of coercion have been used to acquire a desired response or function.

In majority of the traditional and developmental social systems, an individual has a choice to what should he or she extent as a conformed representative of a socialization process. In this voluntary process, the consequences can be beneficial or malfunctional, minor or severe for every case by a behavior’s socialization influence forming gender roles or expectations institutionalizing gender differences. Typical encouragements and expectations of gender role behavior are not as a powerful difference and reforming social trait to a century ago. Such developments and traditional refineries are still a socialization process to and within family values, peer pressures, at the employment centers and in every social system communication medium.

Still, once someone has accepted certain gender roles and gender differences as an expected socialized behavioral norms, these behavior traits become part of the individual’s responsibilities not influential roles in gender relationships on a personal and social levels to the individual’s own socializing role or self (identity). Sanctions to unwanted behavior and role conflict can be stressful.



Girls can wear jeans

And cut their hair short

Wear shirts and boots

‘Cause it’s okay to be a boy

But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading

‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading

But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like

Wouldn’t you

What it feels like for a girl


Source: The Cement Garden which appears in the Madonna song, “What It Feels Like for a Girl”

A person’s gender role is composed of several elements and can be expressed through clothing, behaviour, choice of work, personal relationships and other factors. These elements are not concrete and have evolved through time (for example women’s trousers).

Gender roles were traditionally divided into strictly feminine and masculine gender roles, though these roles have diversified today into many different acceptable male or female gender roles. However, gender role norms for women and men can vary significantly from one country or culture to another, even within a country or culture. People express their gender role somewhat uniquely. Gender role can vary according to the social group to which a person belongs or the subculture with which he or she identifies cultural identity. Historically, for example, eunuchs had a different gender role because their biology was changed.


Most feminists argue that traditional gender roles are oppressive for women. They believe that the female gender role was constructed as an opposite to an ideal male role, and helps to perpetuate patriarchy. For approximately the last 100 years women have been fighting for the same rights as men (especially in the 1960s with second-wave feminism and radical feminism) and were able to make changes to the traditionally accepted feminine gender role. However, most feminists today say there is still work to be done. Numerous studies and statistics show that even though the situation for women
has improved during the last century, discrimination is still widespread: Women earn a smaller percentag
e of aggregate income than men, occupy lower-ranking job positions than men and do most of the housekeeping work[citation needed]. Some women, such as the editors of the Independent Women’s Forum, dispute this claim. They argue that women actually earn 98 cents on the dollar when factors such as age, education, and experience are taken into account. However, feminists believe these factors are not independent of gender. In fact, gender socialization informs the kind and length of education women receive, as well as the age at which women enter the workplace and the time spent working. Opponents counter that, regardless of what forces influence these factors, the evidence of wide-spread discrimination against working women is quite weak.

Furthermore, there has been a perception of Western culture, in recent times, that the female gender role is dichotomized into either being a “stay at home-mother” or a “career woman”[citation needed]. In reality, women usually face a double burden: The need to balance job and child care deprives women of spare time. Whereas the majority of men with university educations have a career as well as a family, only 50 percent of academic women have children. The double burden problem was introduced to scientific theory in 1956 by Myrdal and Klein in their work “Women’s two roles: Home and work,” published in London. When feminism became a conspicuous protest movement in the 60’s, critics often argued that women who wanted to follow a traditional role would be discriminated against in the future and forced to join the workforce. This has not proven true as such: although some women, especially single parents are denied this choice due to economic necessity, there is little or no discrimination against women who remain in traditional roles.[citation needed] At the beginning of the 21st century women who choose to live in the classical role of the “stay at home-mother” are acceptable to Western society. There is not complete tolerance of all female gender roles – there is some lasting prejudice and discrimination against those who choose to adhere to traditional female gender roles (Sometimes termed being femme or a “girly girl”) , despite feminism, in theory, not being about the choices made but the freedom to make that choice.[8] Women who choose to pursue careers and higher education are also similarly stigmatized by certain religious groups. Often accused of “trying to become a man” and “abandoning their children” if they pursue anything outside the role of mother, mistress, and maid


Methodology used

Interview and the use of questionnaire was employed about 350 questionnaire was administered to about five different ethnic group in Nigeria based in Lagos. Respondents included leaders from local ethnic group in Lagos, religious groups, women’s, youth and other people from different group. Special emphasis was put on the female respondents, A geographic approach was also used, with group concentration as emphasis of choice of location as most Ijaw, Isoko people reside in the riverine areas of Lagos notably, Ilaje-bariga, Okokomaiko, Orile and Ajegunle while the Igbo people reside in Alaba International, ladipo etc where they do their business and the Hausa people are located in Alaba-rago, mile-12, and Isolo-Mushin.


Gender roles are distinct in any society. In each ethnic group, there are definitions of what women and men of that society are expected to do in their adult life. Children are socialised to internalise these roles. Girls and boys are prepared for their different but specific roles. Most times when a man is seen doing women’s tasks, other members of society regard him as a coward, docile, or stupid. When a woman does what is presumed a man’s task, such a woman is regarded as too tough or being “more than a woman.”

Tasks women are unable to do, they engage paid labour for. Women are hunting and fishing to improve the nutrition standards of their families, yet traditionally in the Nigerian ethnic group society, these were exclusively men’s roles. Men and women gave different reasons why women work more than men did in the past especially among the Igbo ethnic group and some part of the south notably the isoko’s

Men’s perceptions

Women’s perceptions

We pay so much bride price that we expect our wives to work hard in order to pay back.

In a way, we buy the women. “Once you buy somebody, that person should work for you.” An Igbo respondent said

Some women enjoy hard work to please their husbands and in-laws and to show respect even if they are not yet married to you. A Yoruba man explains

Some women do not want to be helped with household work. They view household work as their domain and they do not want men to interfere.

Some women believe that they are married to work for their husbands and they view it as a failure on their part if their husbands want to help.

When we help our wives with household work, some of them gossip about it and this makes us unwilling to continue helping with such tasks, some Yoruba respondent explains

Men take women as slaves. An Hausa lady responds

Men are selfish. They do not want to work.

Men who have more than one wife find it hard to work for all the wives and leave the women to fend for themselves and their children. Hausa and Yoruba ladies explains

When further examining men and women’s tasks it was discovered that very few tasks were exclusively done by women or men. It was agreed that, apart from giving birth, men and women perform all other tasks. Roles specific to men were identified as: – digging graves, fathering a child, digging pit latrines, paying bride prices, marrying women and `disciplining’ women.

Disciplining women

Disciplining women as a role for men generated a lot of diverse view among different ethnic group but about 40% of the man agreed that it is the duty of a man to discipline his wife and this 40 percent is across board all ethnic group especially amongst the Yoruba and Hausa people. Men were pressed hard to explain what they meant by “disciplining.” The men argued that women need to be guided when they make mistakes. They punish them by beating. Apart from disciplining women, the issue of domestic violence and the treatment of women as minors was also raised by some female respondents. Reasons were explored why men batter their wives. The male respondents explained that women provoked men to beat them. One man said that: “Yoruba women have a sharp tongue and since men do not want to answer back, they beat them”.


A comparison was made between a home where there is co-operation and sharing of work between spouses and another where there is no such co-operation. It should be pointed out that in a household where there is no co-operation and sharing of work, there is: famine, poverty, quarrels and fighting, children not attending school, sickness, poor clothing, separation or divorce and stealing. Whereas a home with co-operation is characterised by: abundant food with many granaries in the compound, love, respect, wealth (e.g. more cows), children going to school, good health, good housing, and better clothing.

The respondents pointed out that a home with co-operation is more desirable. However, they recognised that the majority of households in the communities were characterised by some of the elements of lack of co-operation. They knew very few men who helped their wives with household chores and those notable for this act are the Isoko men they always help in domestics especially cooking infact they are known to be good cook. It was pointed out that such men are usually called names and sometimes they cannot mix freely with others for fear of being ridiculed by their colleagues.but other groups especially the Igbos and the Hausas are on the contrary

men need to take up more responsibilities in the home.
Some of the tasks that men could assist with in the home include: collecting water, taking care of themselves, collecting fire-wood, pounding Yam, caring for children, doing more farming – putting in more hours per day, weeding, harvesting, and cooking. In order to reduce the stigma of men helping their wives with domestic chores, women groups Men also complained that women are very quarrelsome. They said that some men want to discuss certain issues with their wives, but the women become hostile and do not want to discuss anything with them.the practice whereby women go to the farm and the men sit back at home among the Igbo Edo and Isoko has since been faced out and most of the men are now taking responsibility of such actions at home.


This topic is discussed in the context of leadership in a community. Qualities of a good and a bad leader will be identified and whether or not women have such qualities. But it should be noted that Nigeria as a country is the grasping in the euphoria of bad leadership and the solution to this problem as expressed by some quarter is the need for women to be in the helms of affairs but some have proposed otherwise. They were linked to the discussion on gender

Qualities of a good leader

A good leader should:

Be honest some of Nigeria’s leaders sometimes lie to us about information received from the state or from the central government in Abuja. A good leader should be accountable to the people by informing them about decisions taken during the meetings of the councils; this has been absent and explains the reasons why people like Salisu Buhari, Evans Ewerem and other leaders lied about there qualification, all are men.

Be well informed – because of high levels of illiteracy and lack of access to information, some of the leaders were taking advantage of this to misinform the communities for their personal benefit. A good leader should consult people about their needs and problems

Not use his/her privileged position for personal gains – some infact most of Nigerian leaders were using their privileged positions to harass women into sexual relationships and communities were unhappy about such leaders;

Be development oriented – some leaders did not encourage people to start income generating activities or mobilise them to undertake development programmes in their communities. It should be noted that a good leader is one who educates or sensitizes those he or she is leading so that they can improve their well being and that of their communities. A Leader should plan for their areas and advise the people on all aspects of development. He/she should stimulate people’s initiatives, cooperate with them and co-ordinate development activities.

It should be further pointed out that some leaders were sickly and not able to perform their duties. An issue was raised that some leaders may have diseases like AIDS which makes them too weak to work and yet they do not relinquish their leadership roles. This was raised in a few places but seemed to be a sensitive issue – whether people who are already suffering from AIDS should be elected to leadership positions or not.

Then we should examine whether or not women have the desired leadership qualities. In most cases women possess most of the good leadership qualities. However it should also be noted that a certain number of constraints to women’s participation in leadership:

Constraints to women’s participation in leadership

men do not allow their wives to attend meetings, even when they themselves already hold such positions, as they fear that women are being lured into relationships with other male leaders;

women’s workload causes poor time-keeping and prohibits their effective participation;

lack of respect for women as leaders by both women and men;

lack of transport (meetings are usually far and most women do not own cars);

low educational levels among women;

culturally determined factors: women are shy, lack confidence, have a low self-esteem;

separation or divorce – when this happens a woman has to go away. This creates a problem if she is a leader;

marriage (girls cannot hold positions of leadership in a community because they sooner or later get married and go to another community, so they are not elected to leadership positions).

women are normally not considered eligible for leadership.


Female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female circumcision in Nigeria, is a common practice in many societies in the northern half of sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly universal in a few countries, it is practiced by various groups in at least 25 African countries, in Yemen, and in immigrant African populations in Europe and North America. In a few societies, the procedure is routinely carried out when a girl is a few weeks or a few months old (e.g. Eritrea, Yemen), while in most others, it occurs later in childhood or adolescence. In the case of the latter, FGC is typically part of a ritual initiation into womanhood that includes a period of seclusion and education about the rights and duties of a wife. The 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2003 NDHS) collected data on the practice of female circumcision in Nigeria from all women age 15-49. The 1999 NDHS collected data on female circumcision only from currently married women. In this chapter, topics discussed include knowledge, prevalence, and type; age at circumcision; person who performed the circumcision; and attitudes towards the practice.


About half (53 percent) of Nigerian women age 15-49 have heard of the practice. There are marked variations in knowledge of female circumcision by residence, region, education, and ethnicity. About two-thirds of urban respondents have heard of female circumcision, compared with less than half of women in rural areas (69 versus 45 percent). In general, women in the south are more than twice as likely as women in the north to haven heard of the practice. These variations by region and residence are a reflection of ethnic differentials. The Igbo and Yoruba, who are primarily resident in the South East and South West, respectively, have greater knowledge of female circumcision than the ethnic groups primarily resident in the north.

Table 13.1 also shows the prevalence of female circumcision by background characteristics, which follows the same patterns as knowledge of circumcision. The proportion of women who were circumcised at the time of the survey was greatest in the southern regions, among the Yoruba and Igbo, and among urban residents. The high prevalence of female circumcision among the Yoruba (61 percent) and Igbo (45 percent) helps to explain regional and urban-rural differentials, since the Yoruba and Igbo traditionally reside in the South West and South East, which are more urban than the north. More than twice as many of the oldest women as the youngest women are circumcised (28 versus 13 percent), suggesting that there has been a decline in the practice. Caldwell et al. (2000) have reported a decline in the prevalence of female circumcision among the Yoruba.


The percent distribution of women by age at circumcision is presented in Table 13.2. Female circumcision in Nigeria occurs mostly in infancy (i.e., before the first birthday). Three-quarters of the women who underwent circumcision were circumcised by age one. Twenty-one percent, however, were circumcised at age five or older. There are marked variations in the proportions of women circumcised in infancy by residence and ethnicity. For instance, almost nine in ten Igbo and Yoruba were circumcised during infancy compared with less than half of those in other ethnic groups (45 percent). Infibulation, the most severe form of circumcision, is more likely to be carried out on women circumcised at
a later age than on the very young. The table shows that 37
percent of those cut before the age of one had been infibulated, while 49 percent of those circumcised after the age of four were infibulated. It should be noted that the total number of respondents infibulated was 57.

Nigeria is a male dominated society and women are seen as inferior to men. Women’s traditional role is to have children and be responsible for the home. Their low status and lack of access to education increases their vulnerability to HIV infection. Certain social and cultural practices also make them vulnerable to HIV.


Marriage practices

Harmful marriage practices violate women’s human rights and contribute to increasing HIV rates in women and girls. In Nigeria there is no legal minimum age for marriage and early marriage is still the norm in some areas. Parents see it as a way of protecting young girls from the outside world and maintaining their chastity.

Many girls get married between the ages of 12 and 13 and there is usually a large age gap between husband and wife. Young married girls are at risk of contracting HIV from their husbands as it is acceptable for men to have sexual partners outside marriage and some men have more than one wife (polygamy). Because of their age, lack of education and low status, young married girls are not able to negotiate condom use to protect themselves against HIV and STIs.

Female circumcision

Female circumcision/female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice whereby all or part of the external female genitalia is removed by cutting. Around 60% of all Nigerian women experience FGM and it is most common in the south, where up to 85% of women undergo it at some point in their lives. FGM puts women and girls at risk of contracting HIV from unsterilized instruments, such as knives and broken glass that are used during the procedure.

Sex work

Although prostitution is illegal in Nigeria there are more than a million female sex workers. HIV infection rates among sex workers have been estimated to be as high as 30% in some areas. There are low levels of condom use among sex workers because of a lack of knowledge about HIV transmission and poor acceptance by male clients.10

Gender roles around the world pin women into positions where they lack the power to protect themselves from HIV infection and where, if they are infected, they lack opportunities to receive treatment. Negative assumptions about women’s roles and discrimination against them must be challenged and women must be empowered to help themselves and to protect themselves.

Women who have been raped need to have access to post-exposure prophylaxis – medical techniques which can reduce the chances of HIV infection if the victim of a rape is treated quickly. In many (mainly African) countries with high levels of sexual violence against women and high HIV prevalence, this treatment is not freely available to women.

Protecting women from HIV is not solely women’s responsibility. Most HIV+ women were infected by unprotected sex with an infected man. Preventing infection is the responsibility of both partners, and men must play an equal role in this. If no HIV+ men had unprotected heterosexual sex, the number of women newly infected with HIV would plummet. Even in the United States, there is still much more to be done to protect women. There has been criticism that sex education in schools in the USA is based on the idea that sexual fidelity until marriage is the best way to prevent STD infection. This won’t protect a women if she is infected by the man she marries, and it leaves her vulnerable and ignorant if she changes her mind, and has sex before marriage. This is why women must be taught about reducing risk by using condoms, and condoms must be easily obtainable for women.

Violence against women, discrimination, gender-based inequalities, prostitution – these are all social issues which undeniably need to be changed, but which might take decades to alter. Women who have HIV need to access to treatment, and women who don’t have the virus need to be able to protect themselves. If, in the short term, it is impossible to empower women to be able to insist on condom use, then efforts must be made to find an alternative solution.

There are plans underway to develop a microbicide – a gel or cream which can be applied vaginally, without a partner even knowing, and which would kill HIV, preventing infection. Tests have been being done for a number of years, but medical experts say that even if all goes well, such a gel is still at least 5 years away.

There are many issues surrounding the development of microbicides. Even if such a product can be shown to be both safe and functional, it will then have to be made palatable to consumers from different countries and cultures. One particular issue is pregnancy. Women in developing countries may want a microbicide that prevents HIV infection but which allows pregnancy to occur, whilst other women may want to be protected against both HIV infection and pregnancy. Given that a number of faith-based organisations espouse anti-contraception views, it seems likely that a microbicide which does not prevent pregnancy will be more easily accepted.

Many women may not think they are at risk for HIV infection. There is still, in some places, a myth that HIV infection is something that happens to other people – to men, to injecting drug users, to people from other ethnic groups. This falsehood needs to be cleared up, and countries around the world need to empower women to be able to protect themselves.


The Gender and ethnicity in Nigeria. This is a research paper undertaken to create awareness at the community level on the need to support and enable women to effectively utilise the opportunities provided by the Constitution and to examine the reaction or opinion of different response from ethnic group in Nigeria

The Gender and ethnicity in Nigeria paper provided the opportunity me to explore the relationship between women and men in discussing and examine the issue of women in leadership positions, HIV/AIDs, Female Circumcisions, households, and changing roles and amongs the various ethnic group in Nigeria. A strategic location was chose which is Lagos that houses all tribes and ethnic group (in large proportion) in Nigeria.

The respondents included leaders from ethnic group, religious groups, women’s groups, youth, and other small groups. Specific emphasis was put on women. During the course of the research work, respondents used their experience to evaluate and responded to each question about how far women had come in the struggle for equal participation in community and leadership, the challenges and constraints they face, and how this process can be supported.

The paper focused on household and community roles for both women and men. While there was agreement by both men and women on what women do, men’s roles were disputed by women and some men. They insisted that even when men undertake certain roles, they do as little as possible. The discussions revealed that women do all the reproductive work, undertake most of the productive work and take up a bigger share of community roles. Women are continuously taking up roles that were traditionally men’s tasks.

The experience of analyzing the integration of gender into ethnic groups in Nigeria and development planning has shown tentative success. The most important aspect of such follow-up should be sensitisation and building the capacity of elected policy makers and implementers to enable them to integrate gender in policy making, planning and implementation of programmes.

It must also be noted that Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities that is “Gender mainstreaming involves not restricting efforts to promote equality to the implementation of specific measures to help women, but mobilising all genera
l policies and measures specifically for the p
urpose of achieving equality by actively and openly taking into account at the planning stage their possible effects on the respective situation of men and women (gender perspective). This means systematically examining measures and policies and taking into account such possible effects when defining and implementing them.”

“Action to promote equality requires an ambitious approach which presupposes the recognition of male and female identities and the willingness to establish a balanced distribution of responsibilities between women and men.”

“The promotion of equality must not be confused with the simple objective of balancing the statistics: it is a question of promoting long-lasting changes in parental roles, family structures, institutional practices, the organistation of work and time, their personal development and independence, but also concerns men and the whole of society, in which it can encourage progress and be a token of democracy and pluralism.”

“The systematic consideration of the differences between the conditions, situations and needs of women and men in all Community policies and actions: this is the basic feature of the principle of ‘mainstreaming’, which the Commission has adopted. This does not mean simply making Community programmes or resources more accessible to women, but rather the simultaneous mobilisation of legal instruments, financial resources and the Community’s analytical and organisational capacities in order to introduce in all areas the desire to build balanced relationships between women and men. In this respect it is necessary and important to base the policy of equality between women and men on a sound statistical analysis of the situation of women and men in the various areas of life and the changes taking place in societies.”


Solutions to women’s constraints to leadership: The following solutions were proposed to these constraints:

Men should learn to trust their wives. Women should also behave well so that their husbands can trust them;

Men should take up household work. When women go for meetings for example, men should assist in collecting firewood, water, cooking and taking care of the children;

Change of attitude by men and women towards women’s leadership. Women need to learn to support each other more;

Sensitisation of men so that they can allow their wives to participate in leadership;

Family planning; having fewer children will create more time for women.;

Education of girls as future leaders;

Organising adult literacy classes for women;

Sensitisation regarding the negative cultural attitudes towards women.

1 Training and sensitization programmes

These leaders need to be able to analyse and articulate development plans for their communities. Both women and men Local Council members will benefit from training in government work, information gathering, consensus building with their electorate etc., which will enhance their capacity to better undertake the role they have been elected for.

This provides an opportunity to involve them in issues, which require a new way of thinking. At present day, politicians know that gender and women’s empowerment is an issue that they cannot ignore. A sensitisation and training programme for elected Local Council Members would be very useful..

Gender awareness training for technical officers

Whereas politicians are responsible for policy making, technical people are in charge of the implementation of these policies and they advise politicians on policy issues. The technical experts in different sectors such as health, education, agriculture and community development need to know how to integrate gender considerations into programme planning and implementation. Most of them have had training that was gender blind. Integration of gender concerns in technical fields is important for the implementation of policies. The technocrats who are mainly at district level, need to recognise that gender is a crosscutting issue and need to be trained on how to integrate gender issues in the development programmes.

Training for lower levels development workers

Gender issues need to be integrated at all levels of programme implementation. At community level, most development programmes are implemented through extension workers in different fields, like agriculture and health. These field workers could be trained to integrate gender in what they do. Furthermore there are the teachers at primary school level. Some of them could be selected for training in gender issues to enable them to make gender central to their work.

Training the field workers is important, as they have the opportunity of close interactions with grassroots people. Training field workers would ensure that gender is included in all their community work, which reaches the majority of the people. It is important that such training be joined to instructions on the use of participatory approaches, which -one- would build upon the interest, creativity and hopefulness raised during the gender and decentralisation programme, and -two- would provide room for “local” solutions, taking into account cultural and customary laws that hinder women’s full participation in politics and leadership.

Information-Education-Communication materials

It is important that all the whole sensitisation and training process be re-enforced by IEC materials in the local languages. Posters based on the issues raised during the programme should be produced to bring the results closer to the people and to enable them to better appreciate the situation.

Evaluation and monitoring

Monitoring and evaluation tools need to be designed based upon both the gender assessment study as well as the report of the Gender equity programme. These tools should focus on gender representation at all the local government levels, and at state and federal government, as well as impact of the various training programmes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *