Probing the parameters of gender, power, and democracy in Nigeria

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


These two vignettes offer insights into radically different conceptions and operations of power. The first depicts the power of a local market woman, who earned the respect of her peers, having risen through the ranks and possessing unimpeachable knowledge about intricate grassroots dynamics, strategies, and networks for effective resource mobilization. Nevertheless, such power is routinely overlooked or discounted because of gender, lack of formal education, socioeconomic position, and misunderstanding of how power operates at the grassroots in specific locales. Providing strategic leadership in a pivotal sector that sustains subsistence and ensures survival, but is often trivialized and marginalized as “informal” by orthodox canons and measures, the leader of the Market Women’s Association is easily rendered invisible in dominant discourses and transactions of power. Just as the informal sector is elided from official statistics, macroeconomic indices and definitions of national productivity such as the gross national product and gross domestic product, this woman’s leadership exists below the threshold of visibility, despite its enormous capaciousness, influence, and effectiveness. Yet her keen command and exercise of power poignantly exemplify the venerated ability to “lead from the back." Her power is embedded in multiple ties and relationships, cultivated over the years through acts of cooperation and reciprocity, which sustain economic equilibrium in a volatile theater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGender and Power
Subtitle of host publicationTowards Equality and Democratic Governance
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781137514165
ISBN (Print)9781137514158
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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