Gender Differences and Political Participation in Owerri Zone of Imo State

This study investigates the role of women in the development and political participation of Owerri Zone. Out of 400 distributed questionnaires, 310 were returned and analyzed, alongside oral interviews. The findings demonstrate that women have significantly contributed to Owerri Zone’s development. Notably, 26% of respondents (80 participants) attribute women’s contributions to agriculture, while 16% (50 participants) highlight their role in the informal sector. Moreover, 13% (40 participants) emphasize women’s involvement in the formal sector, and 10% (30 participants) mention their efforts in creating political awareness and contesting equal opportunities with men. An additional 6% (20 participants) acknowledge women holding public offices as a contribution. The study also uncovers factors hindering women’s political participation in Owerri Zone. Notably, 45% (140 participants) identify patriarchy as a major obstacle, while 16% (50 participants) point to lower educational attainment. Furthermore, 13% (40 participants) indicate the lack of training and communication skills, and 7% (20 participants) cite limited economic resources as barriers. Additionally, 19% (60 participants) observe that socialization differences between genders affect political participation. The research delves into strategies to encourage women’s full political engagement. Respondents propose several approaches, including changing negative perceptions of political women (14%), implementing family governance reform (16%), promoting education/training and women’s development (10%), advocating political party and electoral system reforms (19%), granting women a voice in budgetary matters (7%), seeking legal and constitutional reforms (3%), and combining these options (32%). The study underscores the importance of educational programs to dispel stereotypes surrounding women’s political involvement.

Keywords: Women, politics, Owerri zone, gender differences