Guidiance needs of rivers state women towards improving representation in political leadership.

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This study investigated the guidance needs of Rivers state women towards improving
representation in political leadership. The purpose of this study was to investigate the
educational, vocational and personal-social guidance needs that Rivers state women need
towards improving representation in political leadership.

The study was guided by six (6)
research questions and six (6) null hypotheses that were based on the women’s
educational level and location. The researcher adopted Need Assessment Survey. Women
were first sampled through Multi-stage sampling technique. Later, 2000 women – 500 literate,
500 non-literate, 500 urban and 500 rural women respectively – were purposefully selected for
the study from a population of 2,474,713 females.

The researcher developed questionnaire called Inventory for Women’s Political Guidance Needs (IWPGN) which
was used to collect data from the respondents on their educational, vocational and
personal-social guidance needs. Three experts in the Faculty of Education at University of
Nigeria Nsukka validated the instrument, while the reliability of the instrument was
analysed using Cronbach Alpha statistics. The result gave overall Alpha Coefficient value
of 0.90. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used; this included frequency tables,
mean and standard deviation that were used to answer the research questions.

The null hypotheses were subjected to t-test at 0.05 Alpha level of significant. Major finding of the
study reviewed among others that literate, non-literate, urban and rural Rivers state
women need educational and vocational guidance for them to improve representation in
political leadership, while the non-literate and urban Rivers state women need personalsocial
guidance more than the literate and rural rivers state women for them to improve
representation in political leadership.

Significant difference existed in the mean scores of the educational and personal social guidance needs of literate and non-literate rural Rivers state women for improving representation in political leadership. Also, significant
difference existed in the mean score of the educational and vocational guidance needs of
the urban and rural Rivers state women for improving representation in political
leadership. Some of the counselling implications noted in the study were: women are
more aware that education and political ideology constitute negative impact on their
political prospects; women are no longer comfortable with lobbying to win political
leadership positions but need guidance on how to be assertive and manage self etc.
Among the recommendations of the study were establishment of guidance and
counselling units in urban and rural areas, establishment of adult learning centres in the
localities, leadership training for women and so on.

Background of the Study
Participation and representation of women in political leadership seems to be a
global problem cutting across national and international levels. The poor participation of
women in politics has influenced their poor representation in political leadership. This
attitudinal behaviour of women has attracted international conferences, seminars and
other processes by the United Nations and other international agencies to address these
issues of poor participation and representation of women in political leadership.

Beijing platform for Action (1995) emphasized that women’s equal participation and
representation in political life plays a vital role in the general process of development of
women and achievement of the goals of equality and peace of nations. It also
recommended that women should have equal access to and full participation and
representation in power structures, decision making and leadership. The United Nation
Development Report on Executive Opinion Survey study (2004), conducted on 58
countries of the world on women political empowerment, findings revealed that: Women
are poorly represented in the lower levels of government; they are rarer still in the upper
echelons of decision-making and that women are absent from structures of governance in
national, regional and local, meaning that they do not contribute meaningfully on how
resources are allocated.

Politics, according to Ogunna (2003), is the process through which people are kept
in orderly and peaceful behaviour and through cooperative endeavour; skilful
management of tensions and resolution of conflicts, disagreements, social leadership, the
general interest and welfare of the people are attained, sustained and the survival of the state is maintained. To Northouse (2007), leadership is the process whereby an individual
influences a group of individual to achieve a common goal; Unanka (2002) sees political
leadership as involving politicians who implements or interprets the laws while
promoting the active and intelligent cooperation of the ruled. In another view, Pitkin
(1967) defines political representation as the activity of making citizens’ voices, opinions
and perspectives “present” in the public policy making process. Pitkin also notes that
political representation occurs when political actors speak, advocate, symbolize and act
on the behalf of others in the political arena.

In Nigeria, women seem to participate in politics passively and this has affected
their representation in leadership positions. Agbara (2007) survey study on women
participation and representation in politics in Nigeria revealed that from 1979-1983 there
was only one female out of 57 members of the senate, three females out of 445 in the
Federal House of Representatives and only two female ministers. Between 1991-1993,
only 27 (2.3%) of 172 legislators in the House of Assembly were women, while only nine
women contested for the position of state governors out of 300 aspirants with none of the
women emerging as winner. Still on the above mentioned years, out of 8,800 counsellors
only 143 were women; 774 local government chairmen, only nine were women.

In the State House of Assembly, out of 983 members, only 12 women represented. Based on
these poor representations, women empowerment programmes were formed to empower
women socially, economically and politically. Among these programmes are: Better Life
programme for rural women, Mass Mobilization for Self-reliance, Economic Recovery
and Social Justice (MAMSER), National Orientation Agency (NOA), to list but few. In
addition, some women Professional Associations were put in motion all over the country
to empower women.

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