The Implications Of Low Women Representation In Government: A Call For Gender Equality

The Implications Of Low Women Representation In Government: A Call For Gender Equality
  • PublishedAugust 3, 2023

DESPITE significant progress in achieving gender equality in many aspects of society, the representation of women in government remains a critical issue worldwide. Women continue to be underrepresented in political decision-making bodies, including national and state parliaments, cabinets, and local governments. This lack of equal representation has profound implications for governance, policy-making, and the overall wellbeing of societies.

According to a United Nations Women report on Women representation in Nigeria National and State Assemblies, only 75 women make up the National Assembly and State Assembly representing 5% of the 1459 total seats. In the State Houses of Assembly, out of 990 seats, women occupy only 55 representing 6%.


Out of 36 states of the federation, 14 State Houses of Assembly do not have women as representatives, including Osun State House of Assembly with 26 constituencies. The implication of this in Osun State is that only men is taking the policy-making decisions.

According to a gender advocate and Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, this low representation of women in political positions could be linked to the challenges encountered by women while venturing into politics.

Akiyode-Afolabi noted, “There’s a lot of violence around politics in Nigeria. When you are a woman, you are labelled a prostitute in politics, there is also cultural inhibitions that women should not participate in politics. The male hegemony within the political parties will tell women to step down for the men.”

“Having a very low representation of women in the legislative arm of government is unhealthy for Nigeria democratic system, “Given the record that we have now, if you look at the National Assembly, we don’t have up to 7% of women. There are some Houses of Assembly in Nigeria where we have just one or in some places where we don’t even have any woman at all in the parliament, and if you look at that in terms of representation, that is quiet embarrassing especially in a democratic society where participation is critical”, Akiyode-Afolabi added.

To another gender advocate, Mr. Bukola Idowu, The Team Lead, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) promoting women representation in governance, particularly at the legislative level must be a deliberate programme of political parties by conceding at least 30% to 35% percent of their candidacy to women.

Osun, one of the states with no women representation in the 2023 election, has three Senators, nine members of the House of Representatives and 26 members of the state House of Assembly, plus the Governor and Deputy Governor, all being male.

As if that is not enough, some of the appointments made so far are still in favour of the male gender. The Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, the Governor’s Spokesperson as well as the media aides and others to the Governor are all men.

To crown it all, the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Adewale Egbedun’s composition of staff were all men. It will not be a surprise to have all the Senators and members of the House of Representatives also appointing male assistants.

One of the primary consequences of low female gender representation in government is the inadequate consideration of women’s perspectives and experiences in policymaking. Women’s unique concerns, such as reproductive rights, gender-based violence and economic empowerment may not receive sufficient attention or priority in legislation and policy development. Without diverse representation, governments risk overlooking issues that disproportionately affect women, perpetuating gender inequalities, and hampering social progress.

Diverse perspectives are crucial for effective decision-making and governance. When women are underrepresented, the perspectives of half the population are not adequately reflected in policy discussions. This lack of inclusivity can result in policies that do not address their needs and aspirations, leading to suboptimal outcomes for society as a whole. Increased women representation in government facilitates inclusive decision-making, enabling a broader range of voices to shape policies and contribute to more equitable outcomes.

The underrepresentation of the female gender in government undermines the principles of democracy and legitimacy. Democracy relies on the fair and equal representation of all citizens, regardless of gender. When the gender are not proportionally represented, it raises questions about the legitimacy of the political system and the extent to which it truly represents the will and interests of the entire population. By ensuring equal representation, governments can enhance democratic values, build trust among citizens, and foster a more inclusive political environment.

The presence of the female gender in government is vital for inspiring future generations of female leaders. When young girls see women occupying positions of power and influence, it expands their aspirations and empowers them to pursue leadership roles themselves. Greater women representation in government sends a powerful message that the female gender can contribute to decision-making processes at the highest levels and encourages more women to actively participate in politics, ultimately creating a more diverse and inclusive political landscape.

Low representation of the womenfolk in government perpetuates and reinforces gender inequalities present in society. By excluding women from positions of power, governments inadvertently maintain structural barriers that limit women’s access to resources, opportunities and decision-making roles. Achieving gender equality in political leadership is a crucial step toward dismantling these barriers and promoting a more equitable society. Women’s participation in government can lead to policies that address gender disparities, support women’s rights, and advance social progress.

One thing that could not be denied is that women play a key role in the election of those elected considering the fact that more women participated during the election.

Looking at the composition of the Executive and Legislative arm of government in Osun State, which favoured the male gender, it is therefore imperative for Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, to consider appointing more women as Commissioners, Special Advisers and other positions to make for nonrepresentation of women in elective posts.

The implications of low women representation in government are far-reaching and multifaceted. Achieving gender equality in political leadership is not only a matter of fairness and justice but also essential for effective governance and inclusive decision-making.

Governments, civil society organisations and citizens must work together to break down barriers, promote equal opportunities and empower women to take on leadership roles. Only by creating a truly representative and inclusive political system can we foster sustainable development, address gender inequalities, and shape a brighter future for all.


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