Since the 1990s, a number of socio-cultural agencies have played a significant role in the rise of Yoruba women in civil politics. Amongst these are the increasing value of monogamy and women’s greater access to Western education; the culture of first ladies in government; and female socio-economic empowerment through paid labour. Despite their increasing participation, women are still marginalised in elective politics. Using the ethnographic methods of key informant interviews, observation and focus group discussions and a theoretical analysis of patriarchy, this article examines gender relations in Yoruba politics and in the nationalist movement in south-western Nigeria. The rise of Yoruba women in politics in south-western Nigeria is discussed, along with the factors influencing women’s participation in civil politics. The study concludes that patriarchal politics still exists in the Yoruba political system. Factors inhibiting the total collapse of patriarchal politics in south-western Nigeria include the nature of Yoruba politics; women being pitted against women in politics; gender stereotypes and household labour. Thus, to make Yoruba politics friendlier to all, it would be desirable to create more political openings for women.

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