Research and Ranking Report on Gender Representation at State/ Local Government Levels in Nigeria from 1999 to 2015.
An analysis of Socio-Economic Consequences: Gender Equity and the overwhelming need to rebalance things.
The Winihin Jemide Series research makes comparisons across nations, explaining the implications, and giving recommendations for a better way forward when it comes to female representation in Nigeria.
This Gender Representation Report on Nigeria (1999 to 2015) is the product of 26 months of collaborative work between The Winihin Jemide Series and National Bureau of Statistics.
Research and Ranking Report on Gender Representation at State/ Local Government Levels in Nigeria from 1999 to 2015.
Report Prepared In Conjunction with:
1999 to 2015
THE WINIHIN JEMIDE SERIES
Research and Ranking Report
The Research &
Ranking Report on
cKinsey Global Institute (2015)
envisages a “full- potential” scenario
in which women take part in the global
economy identically to men. It finds that
this would add up to $28 trillion, or 26%,
to annual global GDP in 2025 compared
with a business- as-usual scenario.
“We must begin by determining exactly where we
are in real terms with regards to Gender Equity in
Africa. Only then can governments, development
agencies and advocacy groups adequately plan
for parity and fairness. This is where the specifics
of surveys, research and data output from
authentic sources come in to the play.”
Mrs. Winhin Jemide,
Founder Winhin Jemide Series
Edition 1, March 2016
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted electronically, mechanically,
by photocopying or any web-based tool/website without the permission of the copyright holder.
The sale of this book is prohibited, as is its hiring or circulation without the proper permissions in place.
All contributors have waived any rights to their submission in
this book and subject to the clause above.
Winihin Jemide Series
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Copyright (c ), Winihin Jemide Series, March 2016
@winihinjemideseries @winihinjseries www.youtube.com/user/WJSeries
The decision to embark on this study was
borne out of the Manifesto decisions reached
by delegates at the Winihin Jemide Series’
Women in Government and Politics (WIGP)
Conference held in November 2013 themed
“Increasing Numbers: Access and Progress”
The Women in Government and Politics (WIGP) Conference, London 2013 was masterminded
to launch a regional conversation with the abiding aim of providing women with the
encouragement they need to prepare for and successfully participate in all aspects of politics
and governance. It brought together a wealth of experience from a convergence of influential
women drawn from the five regions of Africa.
The conference theme was Increasing Numbers: Access and Progress, creating a platform
for the first Africa-focused forum for women in government and politics. The conference
discussions examined a number of topics that dealt primarily with some of the issues that
impact the access and entry of women into government and politics. The delegates also
compiled a list of specific courses of actions to address these issues. An immediate outcome
of the WIGP Conference was a position document signed by 95% of attending delegates. It
was this accord that formed the basis for the WIGP Manifesto developed at the end of the
conference (see page 76).
The WIGP Manifesto aims to set out the rationale and importance of conducting an audit
of the current status of the access and numbers of women appointed or elected to positions
in government. As a result of the conference, the cause of women working within Africa’s
changing political climate will come under the microscope to drive research and create
campaign messages that it is hoped will begin to change the status quo.
The expectation for this research conducted by The Winihin Jemide Series is that it will
engender a strong movement for the promotion of women in politics and government
throughout the continent.
Gender equity is an issue that has been discussed in various
international forums as well as academic conferences and national
conventions. The nature and extent of the problem of gender
inequality has been defined and highlighted through a series of
conventions, conferences and declarations. In addition, studies
have shown that women tend to lag behind men on a number of
social, economic and political dimensions.
The United Nations has led some of the most noteworthy
international actions taken to address gender inequality for women.
In 1979, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), considered
the Bill of Rights for women, was adopted. It defined gender
discrimination and issued a call for action. In 1995, the Fourth
World Conference on Women was convened in Beijing. The Beijing
Declaration and the Platform for Action went further by outlining
strategic objectives and actions for achieving gender equality
in areas such as health, education, economics, human rights and
decision making. Since Beijing, five-year reviews have been used
to assess progress made in the various countries to implement the
actions contained in the declaration.
At the country level, many countries (or the women in the
countries) have taken seriously the strategic objectives and actions
from the Beijing Declaration and have adopted legislation and
other measures to address gender inequity. One of the ways some
countries have addressed gender inequity in government has been
through adopting quotas – under constitutional or electoral law
for the representation of women in their legislative bodies. In other
countries, political parties have adopted quotas for the recruitment
and selection of candidates for office. It has been recognised that in
addition to the United Nations’ five-year reviews, there is a need for
surveys of progress by individual countries and a need for ongoing
dialogue regarding measures that work to reduce inequality.
One such dialogue took place in London in November of 2013. The Winihin Jemide Series
sponsored a Women in Government and Politics Conference that brought together women
from Africa and the African Diaspora to start a conversation and promote research about
women in government and politics on the continent of Africa. Since the conference, the
conversation has continued, and research on issues related to women in government and
politics has been conducted. This research document is an outgrowth of the conference.
This document provides a good assessment of the status of women in key federal, state and
local positions in Nigeria. Knowing and understanding the status of women in public sector
positions helps to provide a foundation and platform to plan and implement strategies for
increasing gender equity. The Nigerian study can serve as a template for surveys of other
African countries as voluntary and legal quotas and other methods are used to speed up the
pace of gender inequality reduction. The data in this study is very useful, but the researchers
call attention to the need for improved data collection systems so they can be sure the data
they are using are reliable and consistent across the various states.
A similar study would be welcome in countries such as Rwanda where women outnumber
men in a legislative chamber for the first time in the world. Government officials in
other countries should use the study to identify and eliminate deficiencies in their data
The good news from this study is that progress has been made in increasing the representation
of women in elected and appointed positions in Nigeria. The findings should not be used just
to sing the praises of a particular administration or jurisdiction or as an opportunity to stop
and relax efforts to increase the numbers. Instead, they should be used as an incentive and
motivation to eliminate male dominance throughout the government at all levels.
by Dr Elsie Scott
Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center
Howard University, Washington, D.C., USA
In 2015, the Winihin Jemide Series, in consultation with the
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria, set out to determine
how many women are in the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary
branches of government, and how have these numbers changed
since Nigeria’s return to democracy.
This study covers the years 1999 to 2015 and provides compelling
reasons as to why gender equality in politics and public
administration is important. These reasons include fairness,
accountability, justice, empowerment, and the importance of
bringing women’s perspectives to policy and other discussion.
The last of these reasons resonates deeply with me as an engineer.
I have seen time after time that complex problems are solved best
by teams whose members have a diverse range of perspectives:
gender, age, background, etc. The increasing complexity of local
and global challenges make it imperative that nations have broad
representation in their public leaders – today’s challenges cannot
be addressed adequately without voices that have hitherto been
ignored. Unfortunately, however, the burden on non-traditional
leaders can be heavy. As an engineer in a very male-dominated
field, I know first-hand how tough it can be to be the only woman
in a room, particularly when suggesting ideas that challenge the
In light of the intrinsic value of diverse voices, and the difficulty of being a minority voice,
regardless of the worth of one’s contributions, this report provides some encouragement.
Among other statistics, women now represent an average of 15% of state commissioners and
almost 20% of permanent secretaries at the state level; both represent significant gains on
earlier years. But despite the progress that has been made, key governance positions remain
overwhelmingly dominated by men, particularly at the national and state level.. It is therefore
evident that vigilance and much more progress are needed, particularly in achieving better
gender balance in national and state leadership positions.
I wish to congratulate the Winihin Jemide Series for taking the bold step of tracking how
the global call for gender equity is evolving, within the government structure in Nigeria. It
would be very interesting to see how this plays out across the African continent and even in
the many developing nations of the world. I want to encourage the Winihin Jemide Series to
continue on its admirable course of exploring the ways women’s voices are growing and how
they are making a difference in their countries.
Fiona M. Doyle
Dean Graduate Division and Donald H. McLaughlin Professor of Mineral Engineering
Department of Materials Science and Engineering University of California, Berkeley,
Member, National Academy of Engineering (United States).
I am delighted to present to you the maiden research study by the
Winihin Jemide Series titled Research Ranking Report on Female
Representation at State/Local Government Levels in Nigeria from
1999 to 2015. Its timing is apposite. 2016 has been declared the
‘Africa Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights
of Women’ by the African Union (AU).
At the 8th African Gender Pre-Summit, held in January 2016,
H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African
Union Commission (AUC), urged women to “be change agents … to
transform, not to conform”.
As the first woman in history to lead the organisation, Dr. Zuma is a
wonderful role model. She’s more than qualified to spur women on
to make a difference. Greater gender equity, we believe at The Series,
as does Dr. Zuma, has the single greatest potential to be the driver
of sustainable economic development on the African continent.
Hence our driving philosophy that Gender Equity Equals Economic
Indeed, a large study on gender parity conducted by the McKinsey
Global Institute (2015) actually quantifies this. It envisages a “full-
potential” scenario in which women take part in the global economy
identically to men. It finds that this would add up to $28 trillion,
or 26%, to annual global GDP in 2025 compared with a business-
as-usual scenario. This impact is roughly equal to the size of the
combined US and Chinese economies today. We also look at Sweden
as a case in point, and an inspiration where gender equality is one
of the cornerstones of Swedish society. The aim of Sweden’s gender
equity policies is to ensure that women and men enjoy the same
opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life.
Our current objective is to also build statistical capacity on
gender equity in Africa and introduce research and ranking to
our output. We aim to create the definitive ‘Gender Index’ as the
core source of gender emergence data in Africa. This is crucial in
enabling, governments, policy makers, developmental agencies
both benchmark and plan for increased gender parity. This in turn can only result in greater
positive impact on the continents prosperity and social development.
But, and it’s a big but, there’s a caveat here. We need to help women make this happen.
We also need to help the men understand they too play an important role in achieving this
paradigm shift. As our study shows, where there is a will, sometimes there is not always a
way unless decisive and coordinated steps are taken to ensure results.
The Series’ study has as its focus Nigeria’s clear progress with gender inclusion across the
political and governance landscape since 1999. However, its remit is far broader. It also
examines the degree of advancement made in gender representation in the public sphere in
other countries, including Norway, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia and South Africa.
What our findings show is that although a degree of advancement in women’s representation
has undeniably been achieved in Nigeria, as elsewhere, barriers remain. It’s clear to us that
while many national administrations proclaim their full commitment to enabling greater
gender equity, the practical realities of daily life often mean that women are just not able to
step up to the plate.
Conservative socio-cultural norms, political exclusion and economic disadvantages mean
they don’t have equal access to education, employment, technology, healthcare, or finance.
So, if you are a politician, policy maker or legislator or a gender advocate about to study our
report, we would urge you to consider our five recommendations. Today, almost 21 years after
the Beijing Declaration, we have made tremendous strides. Yet despite the global unison of
voices in favour of greater gender equity, there is still much more we can do.
Let’s look at the strategic mechanisms that really reinforce the participation of women at
national, regional and international levels. Research Projects such as this remain pivotal to
the strategic mechanisms that reinforce the participation of women in Government Politics
and Industry at both national, regional and international levels. We have all got so much
Let’s give all women a fair chance.
Mrs. Winihin Jemide
Founder, Winihin Jemide Series
At the Federal Level, information on women that occupied the following positions
ii. Vice President
iv. Members of the House of Representatives
vi. Secretary to the Government of the Federation
vii. Permanent Secretaries
viii. Ambassadors and High Commissioners
ix. Chief Justice of the Federation
x. Chief of Staff to the President
At the state level, information on women that occupied the following positions was collected:
ii. Deputy Governor
iii. Members of the State House of Assembly
iv. Secretary to the State Government
vi. Permanent Secretaries
vii. Chief of Staff to the Governor
viii. Chief Judge of the State
At the local government level, information on women that occupied the following positions
iii. Secretary to the Local Government Council
B. Data Sources
The following authorities and institutions were contacted to obtain the data and information
used in the preparation of this report:
i. Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation
ii. Office of the Head of Service
iii. National Assembly
iv. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
i. Office of the Secretary to State Government
ii. State House of Assembly
Local Government Level
i. Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs
ii. Local Government Secretariat
C. Design for Data Collection
The data collection in each State was carried out by 1 team per state, consisting of 2
enumerators and 1 supervisor. 3 weeks was allocated for data collection and retrieval to the
NBS headquarters in Abuja. Delays in data returns necessitated an extension of the period
for data collection by a week.
D. Data Entry and Analysis
All questionnaires were compiled by local government and / or State, and batched to the
NBS headquarters in Abuja, where data processing was also carried out. Three datasets were
i. Federal Government Dataset
ii. State Dataset
iii. LGA Dataset
E. Data Coverage
While every effort was made to receive data in a timely manner from relevant authorities,
this was not entirely possible. As a result, a few States have missing records. All data used in
this study are those received as at 1 December 2015.
Data Control and
Verification Spot Checking
Conducted by the team of Dr. Nic Chesseman; Assistant Professor of African Politics,
Hugh Price Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, Co-editor of African Affairs and founder
of www .democracyinafrica .org
Dr. Sarah Jane Cooper-knock; Lecturer in International Development, Edinburgh University,
co-editor of www .democracyinafrica .org
The team was asked to verify the data collected by the Winihin Jemide Series (WJS) in order
to confirm the following points:
1. That the data was collected by researchers connected to the WJS.
2. That consistent methods were used across the 36 states.
3. That the data is reliable and reflects the reality on ground.
We randomly selected researchers from the list used by the WJS and contacted them.
Standard practice is to “back check” at least 10% of data collection points. In this case, 10% of
the sample would have been around 4 people (one person per state, so 36 people in total). In
order to exceed best practice, and given the small nature of the sample, we decided to contact
10 people, around 25% of the total. The states contacted are listed in Table 1.
Each researcher was asked a set of questions relating to:
1. Their relationship with the WJS.
2. How they collected the data.
3. Any problems they had with the data.
4. To confirm the data that was provided to us by the WJS was correct.
Summary: the data has been collected in a serious and robust manner, with due care and
attention paid to securing accurate and verifiable data. There are some missing data, and some
inconsistencies in coding, but these are relatively small and unlikely to impact on the overall
results. Most of the problems identified in the data were not the result of failures of the research
team but rather reflected the absence of data and inconsistencies in data collection practices
by government officials themselves. This project, and these reports on it, therefore highlights
the need for the Nigerian government to adopt a more thorough, consistent and professional
approach to the collection of data on female political representation in Uganda.
The random sample of ten data collectors confirmed full regional participation in the
data collection process, although variance was reported in the ways in which the data
was collected. In the majority of cases (70%), the data collectors first consulted the local
government commission or general office (at the state level) to collect the available data on
gender representation in the local government, before proceeding to the local governments
for verification of data (although this was not always the case).
Certain data collectors, for instance in Imo state, reported going first to local governments
before being redirected back to the general office. Other data collectors went directly to the
local governments (reporting significant delays, lack of cooperation or lack of availability of
data at the general office), while others indicated high confidence in the data provided by the
federal state (reporting no reason to verify at the local level).
Those that reported inaccessible federal records demonstrated the highest commitment to
pursuing local government sources (only unable to visit certain local governments due to
high security concerns). The majority of others indicated going to most (more than 70%) of
the local governments for data verification, while two reported going to less than half (both
in cases of federal data availability), citing insecurity as well as inadequate remuneration for
high transport costs.
Table 1. Consulting Local Government
Federal State Only Commission Both Only Local Government
All respondents indicated a high degree of confidence in the quality of the data collected and
the findings – that there was low overall female representation in public sector positions,
especially in the Northern regions. Respondents indicated that the questionnaire was easily
understood by local government participants, and that local governments were willing and
eager to partake in the study. However, a few respondents noted difficulties accessing the
data through local governments – namely that, in certain cases, local government officials
expected remuneration for their assistance/participation given delays in the payment of local
In most cases, data collectors hired local enumerators (students or statisticians) to spearhead
the data collection process, while the team lead supervised and reviewed the data collected. In
certain cases, where there was a deficit of information at the government office, enumerators
accompanied the local government commissioners to the survey sites to collect the data.
Significantly, there were some areas in which WJS researchers were not able to collect
data. Although the data covers the vast majority of the target positions, information was
not collected for around 5% of state data and around 8-10% of local data. We were able to
work with WJS researchers to fill some of these gaps, for example for Sokoto, but not all.
In general, data is more complete for the historical period than it is for the most recent period,
which seems to be because effective records have not yet been created for these years,
and so data had to be collected by conducting interviews with those personally involved
The founder of the WJS, Mrs.Winihin Jemide, in the company of student delegates at the WIGP 2013 Conference.
In our analysis of the data, we have dealt with this issue by leaving out positions in which we
have no data from our calculations. The results are therefore unaffected, but it is important
to note that if the positions that are missing are very heavily male (or female) dominated,
their inclusion would likely result in slightly different outcomes. It is also important to note
that the same areas tend to have data gaps over time, suggesting that they may reflect a
broader pattern with regards to low state capacity and poor record keeping.
The difficulty in securing information on women’s political representation at the local
government level highlights the need for the Nigerian government to introduce guidelines
ensuring that this information is recorded and made available to interested parties.
While there should be only one elected chairman per local government, respondents
described a process of local government formation that has been gradual and uneven, with
many governors appointing as many as five administrators to stand in during the transition
period for local governments. This is a potential source of inconsistency, which we have dealt
with in our analysis of the results by averaging the results in cases in which a particular
state has a number of chairmen, so that we generate one result for the position. Thus, a state
that had four chairmen, there men and one woman, would be given a rating of 0.25 for this
position overall. This method is essential for ensuring that the position of Chairman is not
over-weighted in states with a high number of chairmen during a single term.
Table 2 shows the number of states that reported only having one chairperson per local
government, while Table 3 lists the states in which there was more then one chairperson.
Table 2: States with Local Governments with One Chairperson
In many cases (66% of cases) states reported having had a number of chairpersons (more than
3) across the state. Larger numbers typically reflects a succession of administrators during
the transitional period (from 2011 to 2015) – turnover that is generally higher than when a
chairman has been elected.
State No. of Local
Adamawa 21 20 1 21
Borno 26 26 0 26
Cross River 18 17 1 18
Delta 4 2 1 3
Ebonyi 13 12 1 13
Imo 27 24 3 27
Jigawa 27 27 0 27
Zamfara 14 14 0 14
Overall, it is clear that the data collectors made a serious effort to collect robust and reliable
data. Although there are gaps in the data, we have good quality information for the vast
majority of positions targeted. Moreover, the variation in the data collected reflects real
variation on the ground (i.e. the appointment of a succession of different chairpersons in
some areas, compared to the presence of one chairperson for a long period in others), rather
than the adoption of an inconsistent approach by WJS researchers. On this basis, we conclude
that the data is suitable for use in academic and policy research.
Gender equality, which is one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is
both an essential development goal in its own right and also a driver of human development.
International law recognises that everyone has a right to participate in public life, but it
remains an ongoing challenge to achieve women’s equal participation, especially in decision-
making roles. The importance of advancing women’s leadership in politics has continued to
gain traction. Although much remains to be done, advances are being made slowly but surely.
Unfortunately, less attention and support has been given to promoting women’s leadership
in public administration.
Public administration is the foundation of government and the principal instrument through
which national policies and programmes are implemented. International norms require that
public administration be guided by principles of fairness, accountability, justice, equality and
non-discrimination, and that it serve as a model of governance for society, which includes
By Winihin Jemide Series in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria
Pictured are a number of delegates and participants representing various countries and continents at the Women in Government and
Politics 2013 Conference.
the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, globally, this is not
yet the reality. Instead of being a driving force behind the implementation of internationally-
and developing countries, public administration often remains a patriarchal institution,
perpetuating gender-biased traditions, attitudes and practices. Women do not yet participate
equally in public administration, especially in leadership and decision-making roles.
A critical mass of women in public administration, in particular in senior decision-making
positions, is important for equality reasons and because it brings more women’s perspectives
to policy and other discussions. Positions in public administration may also be among the few
that women have a fair chance of competing for them. Research based on qualitative case
studies examines the ways in which women in parliament are impacting political culture, law-
making, and social change. One study of Tanzania found that women’s greater participation
in parliament improved the culture in parliaments, helped the formation of a women’s
parliamentary caucus, improved training for women members, heightened invocation of
women’s interests in parliament, increased women’s contributions to parliamentary debates,
and led to modest increases in women’s appointments to cabinet positions. In Rwanda, South
Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, the increase in women’s representation in parliaments has
resulted in the promulgation of new laws, in particular in the areas of gender-based violence,
family law, and land rights. There has also been an increase in the use of a ‘gendered
perspective’ in the legislative process and the use of a ‘gendered lens’ to analyse and monitor
national budgets. In some countries, the increased presence of women in parliament has had
a more subtle impact, with the alteration of people’s attitudes towards women, the creation of
a trans-generational effect, and the formation of a new political culture that accepts women
as political leaders.
Women in Public Service Leadership in Nigeria
In Nigeria today, just as in many African countries, conservative socio-cultural norms,
political exclusion and economic disadvantages have determined the strength of women’s
voices in public life. The 2006 Nigerian population census figures indicate that women
constituted 49% of the total population, yet there remains a significant gender gap between
men and women, especially in political representation, economic management and leadership.
Although reasonable progress has been made over time, political equality is still a distant
goal in Nigeria. Men have control over assets and have relatively better education, hence
they have a dominant position in terms of political power. For instance, male councillors
may not necessarily be highly educated but such positions are not given to women who
have the same educational level as them. The lack of awareness leads to situations where
women often become dependent on male political positions or male-dominated political
parties. Men’s participation in leadership will focus more on issues of men’s interest than on
women’s concerns. In some cases, women are elected into a leadership position in an arm of
government without actually participating in actual leadership. In Nigeria, a lot of women lack
effective power or influence, especially in the federal government structure. Many of them
do not have the necessary skills to present ideas effectively. Women’s lack of participation in
politics, means inadequate contribution to public affairs and women’s empowerment. When
women are given the opportunity of participation in leadership, they will recognise these
problems and address them to accommodate the full participation of women in leadership
at all levels of the arms of government. One of the important reasons why women have
not received adequate benefits from years of planning and development is their inadequate
representation, non-participation and non-involvement in the preparation and execution of
plans for their economic development and social justice through decentralised institutions.
Most political parties do not even maintain data on their female membership and few women
domain and most financial, economic, commercial and political negotiations are conducted
outside the home by males, Nigerian women have very limited access to decision-making
processes, and they have a severe lack of access to and control over financial resources. This
effectively reduces women’s chances of contesting elections and thus occupying decision-
making positions. The factors and issues of women’s marginalisation and low participation in
political leadership and decision-making have been attracting a lot of attention from scholars.
Although women and men have a different biological and physiological make-up, women
may share common features with men in terms of educational qualifications, socio-economic
status and occupation, among others. Yet, they are marginalised in virtually all spheres of
To adequately address these observed gender disparities in the public sector leadership
in Nigeria, it is necessary to take stock of the current situation. How many females are in
positions of leadership in the three tiers of government in Nigeria? How many have been
elected or appointed into public office since our return to democracy? To adequately address
these questions, the Winihin Jemide Series in consultation with the National Bureau of
Statistics (NBS) set out to collect this information at all levels of government, from 1999
to the current (2015) dispensation. The information to be collected covered the 3 arms of
government: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.
The result of this exercise provides useful information for the furtherance of the women’s
equality agenda in Nigeria.
In this section, the key results obtained from the data collected are presented according to the
tiers of government: federal, state and local government. Furthermore, comparison is made
between the five 4-year democratic dispensations witnessed in Nigeria since 1999. These are
1999-2003, 2003-2007, 2007-2011, 2011-2015 and 2015-2019. 2
a. Federal level
i. President: Since the return to civil rule in 1999, Nigeria has successfully had four
democratically-elected administrations at the federal level, and a fifth is currently under
way, having been sworn in on May 29, 2015. Although there have been five administrations
between 1999 and 2015, a total of four men occupied the position of president, with President
Olusegun Obasanjo completing two terms of office. During the 2007-2011 administration,
two men occupied the position of President: Alhaji Umau Musa Yaradua, who died in
office in 2010, was replaced by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the vice president. Thus, President
Obasanjo occupied the office of president between 1999 and 2007, and was followed by
President Umaru Musa Yaradua (2007-2010), President Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2011;
2011-2015) and President Muhammadu Buhari (2015-present). No woman held the position
of president during the period under review (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Position of President by gender
For convenience, reference is made to a period by mentioning only the start year.
ii. Vice President: As is the case with the office of the president, the position of vice president
has been held by four men since return to civilian rule. No woman has held the position of
vice president (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Position of Vice President by gender
iii. Senator: Since 1999, the Senate has been largely dominated by members who are men.
Only 3 out of the 109 members in the Senate in 1999 were women, representing less than
3% of the members of the Senate. Currently, the number of women in the Senate is more
than double what it was in 1999, at 7 members. However, this is a decrease from 9 women
members in the 2007 to 2011 period (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Distribution of members of the Senate (1999-2015)
iv. Members of the House of Representatives: Similar to the pattern observed in the Senate,
the number of female members of the House of Representatives stood at 12 out of 360 in
1999, representing 3.3% of the total members. The number of women rose to 26 in 2007
however, but currently stands at 14 out of 360, which is only about 4% (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Distribution of members of the House of Representatives
v. Secretary to the Government of the Federation: Since 1999, the position of the secretary to
the government of the federation has been held by men. No woman has held this position
since the return to civilian rule (see Figure 5).
Figure 5: Occupants of the position of Secretary to the Government by
vi. Ministers/Ministers of State: In 1999, only 2 women held the position of minister/minister
of state, out of a total of 43. The number of women however rose gradually over the years.
In 2007, 10 out of 57 (or 17.5%) ministers/ministers of state were women, and the figure
reached 11 out of 46 (or 23.9%) in 2011. Currently, the number of women ministers stands
at 6 out of 37 (or 16.2%).
Figure 6: Distribution of Ministers and Ministers of State, by gender
vii. Ambassadors and High Commissioners: 5 (or 8.5%) of the 59 ambassadors and high
commissioners in 1999 were women. The number of women rose to 9 out of 86 (or 10.5%)
in 2007 and 11 out of 90 (or 12.2%) in 2011. No appointments have been made since a new
administration commenced in 2015.
Figure 7: Distribution of ambassadorial positions (1999-2015)
viii. Permanent secretaries: In 2011, 9 out of 38 (or 23.7%) federal permanent secretary
positions were held by women. Currently, 11 out of 36 positions (30.6%) are held
Figure 8: Gender distribution of federal Permanent Secretaries (2011
ix. Chief of Staff to the President: Since 1999, no woman has held the position of chief of staff
to the president. Between 2007 and 2011, two men held the position of chief of staff to the
president. Similarly, between 2011 and 2015, two men held this position.
Figure 9: Position of Chief of Staff to the President (1999-2015)
x. Chief Justice of the Federation: Since 1999, only one woman has held the position of chief
justice of the federation, during the 2011-2015 era. However, during the period 2003 to
2007, two men held the post of chief justice of the federation, and this was also the case
between 2007 and 2011.
Figure 10: Gender distribution of Chief Justices of the Federation
b. State level
i. Governor: Since 1999, all elected state governors have been men. The only exception was
in Anambra State during the 2007-2011 era when the female deputy governor was briefly
installed as governor of the state but later reverted to the position of deputy governor. While
some states have had more than one person as governor during the same administration,
no woman has ever been elected governor since the return to civilian rule in 1999 (see
Figure 11a: Occupants of the position of State Governor, 1999
Note: figures include replacements due to impeachments, resignations, death etc.
Figure 11b: Occupants of the position of State Governor, 2007
Figure 11c: Occupants of the position of State Governor, 2015
Note: figures include replacements due to impeachments, resignations, death etc.
Note: figures include replacements due to impeachments, resignations, death etc.
Administration tenure overlap occurs due to the fact that some state government administrations do not coincide exactly with the
four-year cycle, as a result of nullified and re-scheduled elections.
Note: figures include replacements due to impeachments, resignations, death etc
It is useful to mention that since 1999, a number of states have had more than one person
occupy the position of deputy governor and, as such, the number of deputy governors (as
indicated in Figure 12) exceeds the number of states (36). Furthermore, due to administration
tenure overlaps, the number of individuals indicated in Fig. 12 during any particular era does
not necessarily equal the number of states3
iii. State Houses of Assembly: A total of 990 members of State Houses of Assembly were
recorded between 1999 and 2003, out of which 29 (or 2.9%) were women (see Figure 13).
On average, each state had 28 members with an average of 1 woman in each House of
Assembly. Nineteen states did not have any women members in their state legislature.
Enugu and Niger States had the highest numbers of women members, at 4 each. Between
2003 and 2007, 48 (or 4.85%) of the 990 members of the state legislative houses were
women. Anambra and Enugu States recorded the highest number of women legislators,
with 5 each. The number of states without women legislators declined to 13 compared
to 1999. In 2015, 51 (or 5.42%) of the 941 members of the state legislative houses were
women. The number of states without women legislators stood at 16. Bayelsa State had
the highest number of women legislators of any state (6), as well as the highest share of
women legislators (25%).
ii. Deputy Governor: In 1999, there was only 1 woman deputy governor, in Lagos State. In
2003, this number increased to 3, in different states: Anambra, Ekiti and Ogun states. The
number of women deputy governors rose to 4 in the 2007 dispensation: Anambra, Imo,
Ogun and Lagos States. Currently, there are 5 states with women deputy governors in
Nigeria: Enugu, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Rivers. Since 1999, Lagos State has recorded the
highest number of women deputy governors, a total of 4 different women.
Figure 12: Number of individuals who serve(d) as Deputy Governors
Figure 13: Members of State Houses of Assembly
iv. Secretary to the State Government: In 1999, 3 states had women as secretaries to the
state government (Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti and Imo). This number remained the same in 2007
although Imo State was replaced by Taraba State. In 2007, Lagos and Plateau States were the
only states with women secretaries to the state government. In the current dispensation,
only 2 states now have women secretaries to the state government: Cross River and Ekiti
(see Figure 14). Since 1999, 3 states have had at least 2 women occupy this position: Akwa-
Ibom, Ekiti and Lagos States.
Figure 14: Position of Secretary to the State Government by gender,
: In 1999, a total of 633 individuals held positions as commissioners in the
36 states of the federation. Out of this number, 68 (or about 11%) were women5
Ebonyi States had the highest number of commissioners, at 46 and 44 respectively, with 1
woman in Taraba and 2 women in Ebonyi occupying the position.
Records were not available for 7 states: Bauchi, Imo, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Yobe and Zamfara
Excluding Federal Capital Territory (FCT). See Appendix table 2.
Plateau State had the highest number of women commissioners of any state: out of 21
commissioners, 6 (or 28.5%) were women. A total of 4 states did not have any women
commissioners. On average, about 12% of commissioners in a state were likely to be women.
In 2015, a total of 544 individuals hold the position of commissioners in the 36 states of the
federation. Out of this number, 82 (or about 15%) are women. Lagos and Delta States have the
highest number of commissioners, at 37 and 30 respectively, with 5 women in Lagos and 7
women in Delta occupying the position. Delta State also has the highest number of women
commissioners of any state. All 36 states have at least one woman as a commissioner. By
share of total number of commissioners, Ogun State ranks highest with 6 women (or 20%)
among the 30 commissioners (see Figure 15). On average, about 15% of commissioners in a
state were likely to be women.
vi. Permanent Secretaries: In 2003, a total of 901 persons held the position of permanent
secretary across the states, out of which 145 (or 16.1%) were women. Twenty-seven states
had at least 1 woman occupying the position of permanent secretary. Ebonyi State had the
largest number of permanent secretaries (65), all of which were men.
Figure 16: Women Permanent Secretaries in States of the Federation
Lagos State had the highest ratio of men to women occupying this position, with nearly half
(48.9%) of occupants being women. In 2015, out of 996 permanent secretaries at the state level
across the country, 195 (about 20%) were women. Only 4 states do not have at least 1 woman
as permanent secretary. Ondo State has the highest number of permanent secretaries (53),
of which 28% are women. Cross River State has the highest share of women permanent
secretaries (50%) among the states (see Figure 16). On average, less than 20% of permanent
secretaries in the states are likely to be women.
vii. Chief of Staff to the Governor: In 1999, only Yobe State had a woman occupying the
position of chief of staff to the governor. In 2003, Enugu was the only state in this position.
In 2007, Enugu and Anambra had women occupying this position, but only Enugu had a
woman in this position till 2011. In 2015, Ekiti and Kaduna States are the only states with
women occupying the position of chief of staff to the governor (Figure 17).
Figure 17: Gender distribution of Chiefs of Staff to the Governor, 2015
viii. Chief Judge of the State: Between 1999 and 2003, 41 persons held office as chief
judges in the states, out of which 7 (or 17.1%) were women6
. Between 2003 and 2007,
this number declined to 4 states, while between 2007 and 2011, it doubled to 8 states.
Between 2011 and 2015, 10 states had women chief justices but this has dropped to 8 in
2015 (see Figure 18).
Excluding the Federal Capital Territory; see Appendix Table 2.
Figure 18: Gender distribution of states’ Chief Judges, 2015
c. Local Government level 7
i. Chairman: Between 1999 and 2003, a total of 972 people held positions as chairman/
person of local governments across the nation’s 774 local governments. Out of this total, 28
women (or 2.9%) held office as local government chairpersons. Abia and Enugu States had
the highest number of women in this position, with 6 and 5 women respectively. Twenty-
one states had no woman in this position in any of their local governments. In the current
2015 dispensation, there are 35 women (or 5.6%) among the 627 individuals in this position,
indicating an increase compared to 1999. Cross River State (5 women) and Lagos State (4
women) have the highest number of women in this position, while 15 states have no woman
in this position (see Figure 19).
Data for Imo and Sokoto States are not included in 1999 while Adamawa, Imo, Oyo and Sokoto are not included in 2015.
Figure 19: Women as local government chairpersons
ii. Vice-chairman: Between 1999 and 2003, 781 individuals held the position of vice-
chairman of local governments across the country. Nineteen (or 2.4%) were women. In
Lagos, 3 women held this position, which was the most for any state. Twenty-three states
did not have any woman holding such a position in any of their local governments. In
2015, 77 (or 16.9%) of the 455 individuals occupying the position of vice-chairman were
women, a considerable increase compared to 1999. Twelve states did not have any woman
in this position, which is about half the number in 1999. In the 2015-2019 dispensation,
Cross River State has the highest number of women occupying this position, at 15 women
(see Figure 20).
Figure 20: Women as local government vice-chairpersons
iii. Secretary: In the 1999-2003 dispensation, 824 people held position as secretaries to the
local government, of which 22 (or 2.7%) were women. In 25 states there was no woman in
this position during this period. Enugu State had 6 women in this position, while Ebonyi
and Lagos States had 4 each. In the 2015-2019 dispensation, 43 (8.2%) of the 523 people in
this position are women. Ebonyi State has 13 women occupying this position, the highest of
any state. Fifteen states do not have any woman in this position in the current democratic
dispensation, a significant decrease from 1999 (see Figure 21).
Figure 21: Women in the position of Secretary to the Local
The findings of this report indicate that considerable progress has been made regarding
the election and appointment of women to key political positions at the different levels of
government in Nigeria, when comparing the current profile of women’s representation with
the situation in 1999. More women occupy positions within the local government system
compared to previous years while an increasing number of states have women who are in
the top leadership positions of the local government system. At the state level, the number
of women deputy governors has doubled compared to 1999. More women are also seen in
positions of commissioners and permanent secretaries at the state level. The number of state
legislatures without women dropped from one-half to about one-third of all the states in the
country. Women have also retained a relatively constant share of judicial leadership in the
states. At the federal level, more women have occupied the positions of ambassadors / high
commissioners, as well as permanent secretaries.
positions by men. For example, at the federal level, no women have occupied the position
of president, vice-president or secretary to the government. The ratio of women ministers
also appeared to have dropped in the current dispensation. Only one women has ever been
appointed as chief justice and no woman has ever been elected as governor. Furthermore,
data suggests that even when an official is being replaced due to resignation, impeachment
or death, there is often a high chance that the replacement will not be a woman. As a result,
even during one dispensation, it is not uncommon to observe multiple individuals holding
the same position but usually not a woman.
Although this report does not reflect on or consider the cause(s) for the prevailing challenges
facing the advancement of women’s election and appointments, possible reasons include
social, economic, political, familial, religious and choice factors.
Camilla Quental, PhD
Audencia Business School, France
Gender Equality and Sustainable Economic Growth:
The Case of Women in Public Leadership Positions in Nigeria
Research in various countries shows that greater gender diversity and equality has a positive
impact on business. For instance, companies with a higher representation of women at the
most senior levels deliver stronger organisational and financial performance, as well as better
corporate governance than those run only or mostly by men. At the same time, governments
are realising that gender equality plays a significant part in both economic growth and
sustainable development. However, as many as 860 million women do not partake in the
global economy , indicating that the challenge remains. Many countries still fail to engage
half of their resources in the formal workforce. Moreover, even when women are engaged
in the workforce, few make it to the top.
The gendering of climate change should also be addressed. Indeed, the impacts of climate
change are different for women and men , and women are more likely to bear the greater
burden in situations of poverty. In order to ensure climate justice, women’s participation in
decision-making processes is required.
In this paper, we expose the results of a study conducted by the Winihin Jemide Series,
in consultation with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria, which set out to
determine how many women are in positions of leadership in the three tiers of government
(Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), and indicate how these numbers have evolved since
Nigeria’s return to democracy. The study covers the years 1999 to 2015.
Based on the study conducted in Nigeria, we make comparisons with other countries and
discuss implications for countries on the African continent and around the world. Finally, we
draw some recommendations for increasing gender equality and the participation of women
in decision-making, in order to promote sustainable economic growth and social justice.
Sustainable economic growth can only be achieved through long-term investments in
economic, human and environmental capital. Currently, half of the world’s human capital
is undervalued and underutilised – the female human capital. As a group, women have
been marginalised, as well as their potential contributions to economic advances, social
progress and environmental protection. We argue that better use of the world’s female
population could increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal well-being,
and help ensure sustainable development in all countries. Closing the gender gap depends on
enlightened government policies which take gender dimensions into account (OECD, 2008).
In the present paper, we will first review the literature on gender equality and global growth,
focusing on the economic aspects. We will then discuss the issue of gender and sustainability,
calling attention to the fact that the impacts of climate change are different for women and
men, with women being more likely to bear the greater burden in situations of poverty
(the Mary Robinson Foundation, 2015). Moreover, gender equality has been shown to be
a prerequisite for sustainable development, given that women live more sustainably than
men, leave a smaller ecological footprint and cause less climate change (Johnsson-Latham,
Furthermore, we expose, in this paper, the results of a study conducted by the Winihin
Jemide Series, in consultation with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria, which
set out to determine how many women are in positions of leadership in the three tiers of
government (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), and indicate how these numbers have
evolved since Nigeria’s return to democracy. The study covers the years 1999 to 2015. Based
on the study conducted in Nigeria, we discuss implications for some countries on the African
continent and around the world. We also make some recommendations to increase gender
equality and the participation of women in decision-making, in order to promote sustainable
economic growth and social justice.
Gender Equality and Economic Growth
Research shows that gender equality strengthens long-term economic development. This
assertion is based on many pieces of analysis, including an analysis of the relationship
between birth rates and attitudes toward gender equality in a range of countries (OECD,
2005). The study conducted by the OECD concluded that trends in gender equality should be
incorporated more firmly into economic models for long-term growth. Such models would
then show two things. First, that the gap in performance between OECD economies has a
compelling gender-related dimension. And second, that without a change in attitudes, the
growth prospects of many OECD countries will remain severely compromised (OECD, 2005).
More recently, a large study on gender parity conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute
(2015) showed that gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also
a critical economic challenge. In this study it is stated that if women – who account for half
the world’s population – do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will
suffer. Indeed, they argue that narrowing the global gender gap in work would not only be
equitable in the broadest sense but could double the contribution of women to global GDP
growth between 2014 and 2025.
The authors of this important study by McKinsey Global Institute consider a “full-potential”
scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men, and find that it
would add up to $28 trillion, or 26%, to annual global GDP in 2025 compared with a business-
as-usual scenario. This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the combined US and
Chinese economies today. They also analysed an alternative “best-in-region” scenario in
which all countries match the rate of improvement of the best-performing country in their
region. This would add as much as $12 trillion in annual 2025 GDP, equivalent in size to
the current GDP of Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined, or twice the likely
growth in global GDP contributed by female workers between 2014 and 2025 in a business-
as-usual scenario (McKinsey Global Institute, 2015).
Gender, Climate Justice and Sustainability
In 2007, a study (Report to the Environment Advisory Council, Sweden 2007) brought out
often-neglected facts concerning dissimilarities in the lifestyles and consumption patterns of
women and men, and thus in th eir environmental impact, by describing how men, primarily
through their greater mobility and more extensive travel, accounted for more carbon dioxide
(COB2B) emissions than women, in both rich and poor countries. The study pointed to how
changed behaviour among men – notably rich men who are decision-makers – can be crucial
in addressing climate change and in enhancing the opportunities of all human beings to
enjoy sustainable development (Johnsson-Latham, 2007).
The study also looked at how women live less sustainable lives in terms of their own health
and welfare, due to a lack of rights, to stress and to time poverty. Indeed, while women are
producers/providers of care services, men by consuming such services are in a position to
live more sustainably as individuals – although men as a group take more risks and are more
inclined to use violence, not only to their own detriment and the detriment of others but also
to the detriment of the environment and the climate (Johnsson-Latham, 2007).
climate change exacerbates existing social inequalities, leaving women disproportionately
vulnerable to climate impacts. Indeed, women constitute 50% of the world’s population and
the majority of the world’s poor. Over 60% of the people living on less than one US dollar a
day in Sub-Saharan Africa are women, and poverty increases vulnerability to the impacts
of climate change. Some examples of how climate change exacerbates social inequalities,
leaving women in particular vulnerable, are listed below:
• Women are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened
by climate change;
• Women are often constrained in their response to sudden onset disasters such as floods
and cyclones. During natural disasters, women and children are 14 times more likely to die
• Women farmers are disproportionately affected by climate change because of their limited
access to natural resources and limited access to information and services about climate-
resilient and adaptive agricultural strategies and technologies;
• Women face additional social, economic and political barriers that limit their participation
and coping capacity.
Acknowledging that men and women are impacted differently by climate change and
enabling equal participation in the design, planning and implementation of climate policy
can contribute to the development of gender-responsive climate policies which are ultimately
better for people and the planet. However, the evidence base on the benefits of women’s
participation in the design and implementation of gender-responsive climate policy and
climate action is limited. While the importance of women’s participation at multiple levels of
decision-making, and of integrating gender into climate actions is well documented, there is a
dearth of documented follow-up on the impact of such participation. This is in part due to the
fact that women’s participation remains limited in many aspects of life but in addition there
is a need to document the impact of women’s meaningful participation on the effectiveness
of climate actions (Mary Robinson Foundation, 2015).
Increasing women’s participation in the design, planning and implementation of climate
actions can lead to improved environmental and development outcomes for all. At a
political level, women’s participation results in greater responsiveness to citizen needs, often
increasing cooperation across party and ethnic lines and delivering more sustainable peace
(Markham, 2013). Female parliamentarians tend to prioritise social issues such as childcare,
equal pay, parental leave and pensions, physical concerns such as reproductive rights, physical
safety and gender-based violence; and development matters such as poverty alleviation and
service delivery (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2008). In fact countries with higher female
parliamentary representation are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties
The Case of Women in Public Leadership Positions in Nigeria
Social Norms and How they Affect Gender Equality in Nigeria
The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, but
customary and religious laws continue to restrict women’s rights. As Nigeria is a federal
republic, each state has the authority to draft its own legislation. The combination of
federation and a tripartite system of civil, customary and religious law makes it very difficult
to harmonise legislation and remove discriminatory measures. Moreover, certain states in the
north follow Islamic law, which is unfavourable to women. The government has established
a National Committee on the Reform of Discriminatory Laws against Women, which has
drafted a decree for the abolition of all forms of discrimination against women (OECD, 2010).
Nigerian women have very limited ownership rights. Civil law entitles women to have
access to land, but certain customary laws stipulate that only men have the right to own
land. In practice, women can obtain access to land solely through marriage or family. Under
civil and Islamic law, married women have the right to have access to property other than
land. By contrast, customary law denies them any entitlement to household property or to
assets acquired by their husbands. In daily life in Nigeria, men generally make all decisions
regarding property. Women’s access to bank loans is restricted by their limited financial
resources and the difficulties in obtaining the necessary guarantees. National programmes
and other microcredit schemes have been established to assist women, but access is still
low. Statistics show that less than one-third of loans in Nigeria are awarded to women
Women in Public Service Leadership in Nigeria
As in many African countries, in Nigeria currently, conservative socio-cultural norms,
political exclusion and economic disadvantages have determined the strength of women’s
voices in public life. The 2006 Nigerian population census figures indicate that women
constituted 49% of the total population. Nevertheless, there remains a significant gender gap
between men and women, especially in political representation, economic management and
leadership. Although reasonable progress has been made over time, political equality is still a
far cry[ in Nigeria. Men have control over assets and have relatively better education, hence
they have a dominant position in terms of political power.
Men councillors, for instance, may not necessarily be highly educated but such positions are
not given to women who have the same educational level as them. The lack of awareness leads
to situations where women often become dependent on male-dominated political positions or
political parties. Men’s participation in leadership will focus more on issues of men’s interest
than on women’s concerns. In some cases, women are elected into a leadership position in
an arm of government without actually participating in actual leadership. In Nigeria, a lot
of women lack effective power or influence, especially in the federal government structure.
Many of them do not have the necessary skills to present ideas effectively. Lack of awareness
of political participation means inadequate contribution to public affairs and women’s
empowerment. When women are given the opportunity of participation in leadership, they
will recognise these problems and address them to accommodate full participation of women
in leadership at all levels of the arms of government.
To adequately address these observed gender disparities observed in the public sector
leadership in Nigeria, it is necessary to take stock of the current situation. How many females
are in positions of leadership in the three tiers of government in Nigeria? How many have
been elected or appointed into public office in the period since our return to democracy?
To adequately address these questions, the Winihin Jemide Series in consultation with the
from 1999 to the current (2015) dispensation. The information to be collected covered the 3
arms of government: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The result of this exercise provides
useful information for the furtherance of the women’s equality agenda in Nigeria.
According to Professor Nic Cheeseman from the African Studies Centre at the University of
Oxford, overall, it is clear that the data collectors made a serious effort to collect robust and
reliable data. He concluded that the data is suitable for use in academic and policy research.
The findings of this report provide some encouragement. They indicate that considerable
progress has been made regarding the election and appointment of women to key political
positions at the different levels of government in Nigeria, when comparing the current profile
of women’s representation with the situation in 1999. Indeed, among other statistics, women
now represent an average of 15% of state commissioners and almost 20% of permanent
of women occupy positions within the local government system compared to previous years
even as an increasing number of states have women who are in the top leadership positions
of the local government system. At the state level, the number of women deputy governors
has doubled compared to 1999. More women are also seen in commissioner and permanent
secretary positions at the state level. The number of state legislatures without women
dropped from one-half to about one-third of all the states in the country. Women have also
retained a relatively constant share of judicial leadership in the states. At the federal level,
more women have occupied the positions of ambassadors / high commissioners, as well as
Despite the progress that has been made since 1999, key governance positions remain
overwhelmingly dominated by men, particularly at the national and state level. There
is also a worrisome suggestion that some ground may have been lost since 2014, notably
in the Senate and House of Representatives at the national level, and the State Houses of
Assembly. Indeed, there still appears to be strong dominance of key governance positions by
men. For instance, at the federal level, no women have occupied the positions of president,
vice-president or secretary to the government. The ratio of women ministers also appears to
have dropped in the current dispensation. Only one woman has ever been appointed as chief
justice and no woman has ever been elected as governor. Furthermore, data suggests that
even when an official is being replaced due to resignation, impeachment or death, there is
often a higher chance that the replacement will not be a woman. As a result, even during one
dispensation, it is not uncommon to observe multiple individuals holding the same position
but usually not a woman.
Implications of the Study for Countries in the African Continent and
Around the World
The Case of Post-Genocide Rwanda
The first important point to note as a pertinent implication of the study made in Nigeria is the
fact that increasing the number of women in the public sphere may not increase women’s
ability to influence policy making, at least not in the short term. The exact opposite effect
has taken place in Rwanda, for instance. In this country, only nine years after a genocide
in which at least 500,000 Rwandans lost their lives, Rwandans went to the polls to elect a
national Parliament. In September 2003, the population elected 39 women to the 80-member
Chamber of Deputies through a tiered electoral system. Rwanda replaced Sweden as the
country with the highest percentage of females in its national legislature (Bauer Evelyn
Britton, 2006). Many observers, including journalists, the Rwandan President, the Minister
of Gender and Women in Development, representatives of international NGOs and the
United Nations, heralded the representation of women in the Rwandan Parliament as the
dawn of a new, more ‘peaceful’, and ‘equitable’ age in Rwandan politics.
Indeed, in the past 15 years, women’s participation in governance across the continent has
increased dramatically. Several countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, and South
of women. A growing literature on women in governance has begun to assess the impact of
women’s increased representation (Bauer Evelyn Britton, 2006).
Discussions about female political participation in post-genocide Rwanda tended to assume
that increased participation by women would lead to greater gender equality and a ‘better’,
more peaceful society. However, these changes have not necessarily increased the political
power of women or led to more egalitarian notions of citizenship. The second phenomenon
explored in Burnet’s study (2008) is the ways in which the Rwandan state has become
increasingly authoritarian under the guise of ‘democratisation’. As a result of this increasing
authoritarianism, female political participation represented a paradox in the short-term: as
their participation has increased, women’s ability to influence policy making has decreased.
In the long term, however, the increased participation of women could prepare the path
for their meaningful participation in a genuine democracy because of a transformation in
political subjectivity (Burnet, 2008).
This case of an authoritarian, single-party state pushing for greater gender equality highlights
a few key points relevant to political theory and democratisation studies as well as the
increasingly female political representation across Africa. First of all, even in an authoritarian
state, policy can be influenced by interest groups (such as women) who have access to decision
makers and who have the political savvy to operate the hidden levers of power. Second,
the emphasis on elections in lieu of other aspects of democratic governance may reduce
rather than increase the capacity of interest groups to shape policy. Third, top-down gender
initiatives, even when implemented by authoritarian regimes, can lead to transformations
in political identities, subjectivities, and agencies. Finally, these transformations in political
subjectivity may pave the way for effective engagement in democratic governance should it
emerge (Burnet, 2008).
Gender Equality and Economic Growth in Brazil
A second very important study is the one conducted in Brazil to investigate the long-run
impact of policies aimed at fostering gender equality on economic growth in this country. The
analysis of this study showed that fostering gender equality, which may partly depend on the
externalities that infrastructure creates in terms of women’s time allocation and bargaining
power, may have a substantial impact on long-run growth, as well as educational and health
outcomes in Brazil (Agénor Canuto, 2014).
The results of this study have broader implications. Indeed, the role of women in promoting
growth remains a critical issue on the agenda of a number of countries. Studies have shown
that in many cases there has been slow progress, if not setbacks, in reducing the barriers
that women face in access to education, formal sector employment, production technology,
healthcare, or the financial system. What this study suggests, beyond its specific results for
Brazil, is that promoting gender equality is not only desirable from a social equity point of
view – it is also good economics. At the same time, to achieve that goal policymakers should
not think only in terms of microeconomic, gender-focused interventions; macroeconomic
factors also do matter. In particular, improving women’s access to infrastructure may be
essential to promote gender equality in the long run. This perspective should not be lost in
the current debate about the need to promote public infrastructure investment in developing
countries; this is not only about creating jobs in the short run, or increasing the efficiency
of private inputs in production, but also about alleviating structural constraints on women’s
ability to engage in market work and strengthen their contribution to economic growth
(Agénor Canuto, 2014).
Meanings of Gender Equality in Development: Perspectives from
Norway and Ethiopia
This study is also very insightful regarding the implications of the study in Nigeria for
countries on the continent and around the world. It explores how differently situated actors
in Norway and Ethiopia relate to global gender and development policies and interpret the
concept of gender equality. The study shows that a universalising gender language influenced
by both United Nations policies and the World Bank’s gender discourse have made strong
imprints on how gender equality is conceptualised at policy and grassroots levels in Ethiopia
and in Norwegian gender and aid policies. However, diverging meanings of gender equality
also emerged in this research, showing how an apparently dominant terminology may be
transformed by actors whose conceptualisations are contextually embedded, selective and
strategic (Ostebo Haukanes, 2016).
In addition, the Brazillian study shows that the rhetoric of the World Bank’s policy ‘Gender
Equality as Smart Economics’ appears to have considerable influence in both countries,
Norway and Ethiopia. What the authors have identified as a bending of gender equality
towards economic growth is evident to some extent in Norwegian aid policies and very clear
in Ethiopia’s ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This rhetoric also emerged in
the translations of gender equality at grassroots level in Oromia, where gender equality had,
to a significant extent, been shrunk to a focus on work – and where reference to economic
growth and poverty reduction also surfaced as a major rationale for gender equality (Ostebo
While the research revealed, on the one hand, that the universalising language of the
Beijing Declaration and World Bank gender policies has made relatively strong imprints on
how gender equality is conceptualised by many of the actors in the development aid chain,
alternative meanings of gender equality that emerged through this study suggest that a
one-sided focus on the power of global policies is flawed. As ideas travel, through time and
geographical space, new meanings emerge, meanings that are shaped by historical, political
and socio-cultural factors. These multiple and shifting meanings reflect the contested and
situated nature of gender equality and gender-related policies, the presence of competing
discursive processes and logics at a particular time and place and the multi-directional
Delegates stand for a group photo at the WIGP 2013 Conference against the backdrop of the House of Commons.
nature of development discourse and practice. Despite an apparent unison and strong global
gender and development discourse, what emerged through this research was a rather rugged
landscape where actors position themselves selectively and make their own sense of what is
descending upon them (Ostebo Haukanes, 2016).
Based on the study conducted by the Winihin Jemide Series in consultation with the National
Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Nigeria, and after having discussed the implications of increased
gender equality for certain countries around the world, we can make some recommendations:
• Increase gender parity in decision-making at all levels: Involving women in the design,
planning and implementation of strategic decision-making and actions has positive
benefits for men and women. While the evidence base is low, the examples presented here
demonstrate the positive benefits for people and the planet when women are enabled to
participate more intensely.
• Understand the context in relation to women’s ability to participate: Women’s ability to
meaningfully participate in decisions that affect their lives hinges on a multitude of factors:
structural inequality, political marginalisation, restrictive cultural norms and informal
• Shift the emphasis from women’s representation to meaningful participation in public
administration: There is evidence that the barriers do not disappear once women reach
the decision-making table. There is a need to avoid just counting numbers of women and
ensure the meaningful participation of women in public administration.
• Invest in training and capacity building to enable meaningful participation: In order
to fully realise women’s participation in decision-making processes, women need to be
supported with training, networks and access to resources.
• Document the good work that is going on to enable women’s participation: This research
found that there is limited evidence of the extent of women’s participation in public
administration. In order to share lessons learned and establish good practice there is a
need to document and share the impact of women’s meaningful participation on strategic
Agénor, P.R; Canuto, O. (2014). ‘Gender equality and economic growth in Brazil: A long-run
analysis’, Journal of Macroeconomics, 43, pp. 155-172
Bauer, G.; Evelyn Britton, H. (2006). ‘Women in African parliaments: a continental shift?’
in Hannah Evelyn Britton and Gretchen Bauer (eds), Women in African Parliaments (Lynne
Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, 2006)
Burnet, J.E. (2008). ‘Gender balance and the meanings of women in governance in post-
genocide Rwanda’, African Affairs, 107/428, pp. 361-386
EY (2013). ‘Untapped opportunity: The role of women in unlocking Australia’s productivity
potential’, Ernst Young, July 2013
Inter-Parliamentary Union (2008). ‘A survey of women in parliament’, available at http://
Johnsson-Latham, G. (2007). ‘A study on gender equality as a prerequisite for sustainable
development’, Report to the Environment Advisory Council, Sweden 2007:2
Markham, S. (2013). ‘Women as agents of change: Having voice in society influencing
policy’, The World Bank, Washington D.C.
McKinsey Global Institute (2015). ‘The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can
add $12 trillion to global growth’, full report, September 2015.
National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with Winihin Jemide Series (2015). ‘Research
ranking report on gender representation at state/local government levels in Nigeria from
1999 to 2015’, December 2015.
OECD (2005): ‘Does gender equality spur growth?’ OECD Observer, n. 250, July 2005
OECD (2008). ‘Gender and sustainable development: Maximising the economic, social and
environmental role of women‘
OECD (2010). ‘Atlas of gender development: How social norms affect gender equality in non-
Ostebo, M.T.; Haukanes, H. (2016). ‘Shifting meanings of gender equality in development:
Perspectives from Norway and Ethiopia’, Progress in Development Studies 16, 1 (2016) pp. 39–51
The Mary Robinson Foundation (2015). ‘Women’s participation: An enabler of climate justice’,
UNDP (2011). Human Development Report. ‘Sustainability and equity: A better future for all’,
United Nations Development Programme. New York.
Representation in Nigeria
by Dr. Nic Cheeseman and his team (Dr. Sarah Jane Cooper-Knock and Claire Elder)
There are two ways to count the degree of female political representations. One is simply to
look at the percentage of all government posts held by women (so: total posts held by women/
total posts x 100). This is the cleanest and simplest measure, but it is also very problematic.
This is because it may be that women are all elected/appointed to the least important posts. If
this is the case, a government may look like it has a high proportion of women in government
positions, even though they do not have the capacity to effect change.
An alternative way to calculate the influence of women in politics is to weight the positions
in government according to their legitimacy and authority, and to use this weighting to
develop a more nuanced picture of the proportion of political power wielded by women in
a given state. In order to provide a full picture of the state of gender equality in Nigeria, we
provide both figures, one using a straight proportionality calculation, and one weighting the
importance of the different government positions covered in this study.
The Institutional Power Index
The aim of the Institutional Power Index is to show the potential power that office holders
can wield in particular positions. We refer to institutional potential in this context because
we know from political science studies that the actual power wielded by any office holder
is dependent upon more than simply the institutional parameters of their role (Arriola
and Johnson 2014; Nkwankwor 2014). Nonetheless, we believe that securing women’s
access to powerful institutional positions remains an important part of the broader agenda
of gender equality.
With this in mind, we have weighted the relative importance of each institution explored in
our study for the potential power it offers. At the local government level, we have deployed
a simple ranking, as the roles delineated are fairly easily drawn into relationship with one
another. It is clear, for example, that the role of chairman is considerably more significant than
that of vice chairman and that this is considerably more significant than that of secretary. At
the state level, we have disaggregated the potential in each role to explore the multiple facets
of institutional power in play. The key factors we consider are the autonomy, legitimacy,
budgetary influence, oversight capacity, and security of tenure of the position. Our weighting
measures can be found in the tables below. Note that in all cases the total weighting adds up
Sec to State
Staff to the
State of House
20 20 0 0 5* 0 5* 20
15 5 0 10 0 0 0 10
Budgetary Control 15 5 0 5 0 0 0 10
Oversight 20 5 15 10 10 15 10 5
Security of Tenure 20 20 10 5 5 5 20 20
Total score 90 50 25 30 20 20 35 35 305
Weighting 28 15 8 9 6 6 11 17 100
* Appointment with element of qualification.
Chairman Vice Chairman Secretary to the Local
Score 20 10 5 35
Weighting 57 29 14 100
Local government weighting
State government weighting
Ranking by State
Analysis and Ranking provided by Professor Nic Cheeseman, Assistant Professor of African Politics, Hugh Price Fellow of Jesus
College, Oxford University, Co-editor of African Affairs
Based on the Percentage of Appointment Index Average 2003 to 2015 (includes women in elected offices)
The Winihin Jemide Series would like to
congratulate the top 5 States:
Lagos State - 1st
Cross River State - 2nd
Anambra State Enugu State - Joint 3rd
Imo State - 4th
Niger State, Rivers State Ogun State - Joint 5th
States Percentage Appointment Index
2003-2015, Whole Period %
Lagos 24 1
Cross River 19 2
Anambra 18 3
Enugu 18 3
Imo 17 4
Niger 16 5
Rivers 16 5
Ogun 16 5
Plateau 15 6
Edo 15 6
Bayelsa 15 6
Delta 14 7
Adamawa 14 7
Ondo 14 7
Abia 13 8
Kwara 12 9
Ekiti 12 9
Benue 12 9
Oyo 11 10
Akwa-Ibom 11 10
Kaduna 10 11
Nasarawa 9 12
Osun 7 13
Gombe 7 13
Yobe 6 14
Kogi 6 14
Kebbi 6 14
Borno 6 14
Ebonyi 5 15
Jigawa 5 15
Katsina 5 15
Sokoto 5 15
Zamfara 5 15
Taraba 4 16
Bauchi 4 16
Kano 3 17
GDP and Gender
Representation in Nigeria
(2010; in millions of USD)
Index Rank 2007-11
Analysis and Ranking provided by Professor Nic Cheeseman, Assistant Professor of African Politics, Hugh Price Fellow of Jesus
College, Oxford University, Co-editor of African Affairs
millions of USD)
1 Lagos State 1 US$91,000
2 Rivers State 13 US$21,073
3 Delta State 7 US$16,749
4 Oyo State 5 US$16,121
5 Imo State 4 US$14,212
6 Kano State 27 US$12,393
7 Edo State 20 US$11,888
8 Akwa Ibom State - US$11,179
9 Ogun State 2 US$10,470
10 Kaduna State 19 US$10,334
11 Cross River State 16 US$9,292
12 Abia State 11 US$8,687
13 Ondo State 14 US$8,414
14 Osun State 15 US$7,280
15 Benue State 17 US$6,864
16 Anambra State 3 US$6,764
17 Katsina State 31 US$6,022
18 Niger State 15 US$6,002
19 Borno State 23 US$5,175
20 Plateau State 9 US$5,154
21 Sokoto State - US$4,818
22 Bauchi State 30 US$4,713
23 Kogi State 28 US$4,642
24 Adamawa State 18 US$4,582
25 Enugu State 8 US$4,396
26 Bayelsa State 35 US$4,337
27 Zamfara State 6 US$4,123
28 Kwara State 12 US$3,841
29 Taraba State 10 US$3,397
30 Kebbi State 26 US$3,290
31 Nassarawa State 29 US$3,022
32 Jigawa State 24 US$2,988
33 Ekiti State 21 US$2,848
34 Ebonyi State 33 US$2,732
35 Gombe State 22 US$2,501
36 Yobe State 32 US$2,011
GDP and Female Political Representation
at the State Levels in Nigeria
We have compared the GDP data at the state level
in 2010, when it is last easily available, with the
Institutional Power Index in the same period (2007-
2011), which is when we have the most complete data.
Dashes (-) indicate states we do not have adequate data
about to include.
There appears to be a correlation between the two
sets of figures, as demonstrated by the Table (left).
For example, many states that featured in the top 10
as ranked by GDP are also in the top 10 as ranked by
gender representation on the Institutional Power
Index (Lagos, Delta, Oyo, Imo, and Ogun). However,
it is recognised that a number of states also deviate
from this pattern. Kano, for example, is 27th on the
Institutional Power Index for this Period but 6th in the
GDP rankings, while Edo state is 20th on the IPI but
7th when ranked according to GDP.
Causation and Correlation
It is important to realise that correlation does not equal
causation. The fact that a state ranks highly on both
indicators does not mean that one is driving the other.
Both could be being driven by a third factor. And even
if there is not a third factor at play it is important to
think carefully about the direction of causation.
For example, it is as likely that the causality runs from
of women as the other way round. This is because
states that have stronger economies are likely to a)
create more opportunities for women, b) see patterns
of social change driven by education and expanding
incomes, c) be located in areas in which educational
levels tend to be higher due to the varying penetration
of missionaries, and so on. Further research is therefore
required to fully understand the relationship between
GDP and female political representation.GDP and Institutional Power Ranking, by State, 2010
The Winihin Jemide Series would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following
people and organisations:
• University of Oxford
• Audencia Business School, France
• The National Bureau of Statistics
• Dr. Elsie Scott; Director, Ronald W . Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center Howard
University, Washington, D .C ., USA
• Professor Fiona Doyle - 1st female Dean Graduate Division and Donald H. McLaughlin
Professor of Mineral Engineering Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of California, Berkeley, Member, National Academy of Engineering (United
• Dr. Nic Cheeseman - Assistant Professor of African Politics, Hugh Price Fellow of
Jesus College, Oxford University, Co-editor of African Affairs and founder of
www.democracyinafrica.org. He is the former Director of the African Studies Centre
at Oxford University, and his team,
• Dr. Camilla Quental - Assistant Professor Management, Organization Law Department,
Audencia Business School, France,
• Mr. Emuesiri Ojo - Research Consultant and Technical Adviser, National Bureau of Statistics,
• Ngozi Okoye PHD - National Institute for Policy and Strategic Planning (NIPSS),
• The Winihin Jemide Series Team; Nsikan Udo, Director Programs; Abi Bulus Galadima,
Project Coordinator, Halima Disu, Director Operations
• All participants at the Women In Government and Politics Conference London (WIGP 2013),
• The youngest parliamentarian, Proscovia Alengot, from Katakwi, Uganda. Who at age 19,
became the youngest member of parliament in Uganda, and on the African continent.
Proscovia inspired the first Women In Government and Politics Conference in London in
• Speakers and Sponsors at all of the Winihin Jemide Series’ Gender Emergence and Economic
Development (GEED) conferences and events to date.
Dr Nic Cheeseman, Assistant Professor of African
Politics, Hugh Price Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford
University, Co-editor of African Affairs and founder
Nic Cheeseman is the former Director of the African Studies Centre
at Oxford University. He spends much of his time explaining the
board of the UNICEF Chair on Communication Research (Africa) and an
advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel. He also
writes a popular column in the Sunday Nation, the most read newspaper
in Eastern Africa, and is the joint editor of African Affairs, the number
one journal in African Studies and all of Area Studies according to the
Journal Citations Reports prepared by Thomson Reuters.
Dr Sarah Jane Cooper-Knock, Lecturer in
International Development, Edinburgh University,
Sarah-Jane completed her DPhil in International Development at
the University of Oxford. She also holds an MPhil in International
Development from the University of Oxford, and a BA (hons) in History
and Politics from Nottingham University. She has been awarded
an ESRC studentship (2007-2011), and a Senior Hulme Scholarship
Profiles of Contributors
Camilla Quental, PhD, of Brazilian and Italian
nationalities, is a professor and researcher in
Management, Human Resources and CSR at
Audencia Business School, France
Camillas research involves gender and diversity in organizations,
gender equality and Brazilian cultural aspects in organizations. She
received a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris and a Ph.D. in
Management from HEC Paris, having done her doctoral thesis on the
topic of women’s careers in professional services firms. She is a member
of the UN PRME Working Group on Gender Equality and a coordinator
of the Management Discipline for the global repository.
Claire Elder, PhD candidate, Department of Politics
and International Relations, Oxford University.
Claire has great experience of working on policy issues and African
politics, having been the International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa