ABSTRACT: This research examined peoples’ perception of media reportage of female aspirants in Nigerian politics, with a special focus on Ikeja residence. Emphasis was also laid on the level of attention and coverage given to women in politics particularly the female contestants in Nigeria. The research was built on the assumption of the Agenda Setting Theory and Perception theory. A survey method was adopted for the study with 150 questionnaires administered to the respondents. However, 138 questionnaires were analyzed and returned indicating a response rate of 92%. Findings revealed that the majority of the mass media platform pay less attention to issues surrounding women particularly the aspirants, contestants, and women political activists as was evident in the percentage level of the respondents. Recommendations suggested among others include the need for the womenfolk to be empowered and given the same level ground during elections and subsequently in political offices
Keywords: MEDIA REPORTAGE
1.1 Background to the study
In almost all societies, a gender is a significant form of social stratification. Gender is a critical factor in structuring the types of opportunities and life chances faced by individuals and groups and strongly influences the roles they play within social institutions from the household to the state. In almost every culture, women bear the primary responsibility for child care and domestic work, while men have traditionally borne the primary responsibility for providing the family livelihood. The prevailing division of labour between the sexes has led to men and women assuming unequal positions in terms of power, prestige and wealth (Obi and Bernard, 2010).
Women and feminist agitation have been that of women liberation from oppression, subordination, marginalization and devaluation, which were inflicted on them through legal statutes, cultural practices and brutish physical forces by men including their husbands, their male bosses, rapist and soldiers in war situations (Obi and Bernard, 2010).
Despite the advances made by women in countries around the world, gender differences continue to serve as a basis for social inequalities. Many theoretical perspectives have been advanced to explain men enduring dominance over women- in the realm of economics, politics, the family and elsewhere. Women were discriminated against by stereotypes that restricted them to a reproductive role and deprived them the access to resources that could have enhanced their social and economic contribution to society.
On the other hand, women, have in one way or the other affected the world politics (the like of Margaret Thatcher of England, Indira Ghandi of India, Hilary Clinton of America, Condolise Rice, US Secretary General and many more) the Nigeria women are not left out of the feminist struggles, as the memory of Aba Women Riot against massive tax payment still lingers Olawale (2010) in Fafunwa, (1974), The impact of Margaret Ekpo of Calabar, Chief Mrs. Funmilayo Anikulpo Kuti , Prof. Allele Williams of University of Benin, Chief (Mrs) Bola Kuforiji Olubi of United Bank of Africa (UBA), Mrs. Maryam Babangida who championed the course of Better Life for Rural Women, Prof. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, who helped in reviving the ailing economy of Nigeria and spearheaded the fight that led to the canceling of Nigerias debt in Paris club; Late Prof. Dora Akunyili of NAFDAC that championed the war against fake drugs in Nigeria and ensured importation, sale and use of genuine drugs in our markets, chemist, hospitals and the general public.
The influence of late Stella Obasanjo encouraged the inclusion of many women in the cabinet of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Turai YarAdua also played her part in the programme of women emancipation, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan is carrying a crusade of “Women for Change and Development Initiative”, agitating for 35℅ involvement or inclusion of women in a political post in 2011 general election and more in 2015 (Obi and Bernard, 2010).
However, this research focuses on the connection between the media, women and identity construction in Nigeria 2015 general elections. In other words, it will be describing the role of the media and how the media portrayed the identity of women participants in the Nigeria 2015 general election. Experiences have reveals that womenfolk do not have that equal status with menfolk in elective posts in political circles.
Active participation of women in politics cannot be achieved without genuine communication system. Communication serves as a vehicle through which segments of people relate with each other. Effective communication in political dispensation can only be achieved through the mass media. The mass media has the potential to assist in the constant promotion of women participation in politics by planning and mounting messages such as a sustainable enlightenment campaign for general awareness about the potential leadership qualities of women and their roles in sustainable development in Nigeria.
Prior to the 21st century, most Nigeria women tended to be indifferent towards politics. This could be attributed to some issues or factors ranging from the nature of Nigeria society which is patriarchal with the prevalent notion that politics is not for women. In the 21st century, there seems to be a slight change, many Nigeria women have not only become actively involved in politics some of them have also recorded great successes in the political circle while the media seems not given adequate or equal coverage to the female politicians and aspirants unlike what they have given to their men counterpart. It is against this backdrop that the research examined the Nigerians Perception of Media Reportage of Female Politicians and Aspirants in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the problem
It is not a hidden fact that women are under-represented in the field of society particularly in politics and public offices. This may be because of the basic assumption that a women place is in the kitchen. In other words, her home duties and family responsibilities should be her sole priority, thereby underling her active participation in national development in general.
Another assumption militating against female participation is that female is biologically not designed for energy exerting and hazardous occupation. This argument may not be true because with the age of automation and revolution in decision making intellectual ability counts more than physical energy.
The issue of gender bias also contributes enormously to the low participation of women in both national development and politics Olayinka (2012) cited in Beverly (1995) notes that society assumes that women should be mothers, school teachers, hairdressers, secretaries, nurses, maids and social workers only, therefore, they do not need education not to talk of taking part in decision making and contributing to national development.
The media is the heartbeats of politics and politics is the heartbeat of democracy can we then say that the media is responsible for the women identity construction in the Nigeria 2015 general election while they failed to function in revealing the identity and capacity of women in politics. It is against this backdrop that the research examines the Nigerians Perception of Media Reportage of Female Politicians and Aspirants in Nigeria with a case study of people in OSUN Polytechnic Community which comprised the teaching, non-teaching and students across the six faculties of the institution.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
i. To examine the extent to which mass media report female politicians and aspirants in the previous elections in Nigeria.
ii. To determine how women are portrayed in the media.
iii. To examine the extent at which the media portrayal of women have affected respondents knowledge and awareness about women politicians and aspirants
1.4 Research questions
i. To what extent do mass media report female politicians and aspirants in the previous elections in Nigeria?
ii. How are women portrayed by the media in the previous elections in Nigeria?
iii. Does the portrayal of women by the media affect the view of media users in terms of having knowledge about female politicians and aspirants?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is expected to assist people on the usefulness of media in either mobilizing support for women or mobilizing women to take part in leadership, politics and generally in decision-making.
This study draws the attention of the government to empower women to participate in national development such as giving them support and positions in government, private agencies, parastatals and political offices.
This study will give directions to female journalists on how they can use their knowledge to educate and mobilize women into national development and politics and how they can safely guide their voting right through some programmes like women rights, women and elections e. t. c.
Another important significance of this study is that all qualified individuals especially women should be freed to vote or be voted for without fear or favour.
Media practitioners will also gain from the research findings as it will expose them to what responsibilities media are to play in society and in women capacity building.
It will also serve as reference materials for future researchers who may want to expand or explore a study relating to this work.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study has been limited to the Osun State Polytechnic community particularly among the teaching, non-teaching and students. the institution community was selected because of the proximity to the researchers while the majority of the respondents in the area are also mature (18+) to comment on the level of the coverage and the kind of effect it has on them.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Term
Nigerians perception: It refers to the manner, ways in which the people in Ikeja view media prominence given to women aspirants, contestants and womenfolk in previous elections in Nigeria.
Media reportage: This refers to the level of attention paid to the women politicians, aspirants, and contestants especially during elections so that people can know about them.
Female politicians and aspirants: These are the women or females who are participating in politics, aspiring or contesting for one elective office or the other in the country.
Media: These refer to the newspaper, magazine, radio, television, billboard and online media (social media, blog, videotape etc) that are used to disseminate political messages to the electorates during electioneering.
Election: This is the act of choosing or selecting people into political positions usually through the ballot.