Political Science Project Topics

An Examination of John Stuart Mills Notion of Gender Equality

An Examination of John Stuart Mills Notion of Gender Equality



This paper seeks to examine the marginalization, exploitation and denial of certain rights and privileges men meted out to women. The way women were shut out from enjoying equal status with men made them to assume the roles of subordinates thus making them to become unequal partners. This work pays attention to the challenges that confronted women which Mill sought to address. Criticizing the laws which restricted women from exercising their rights the same way men did. He maintains that women ought to enjoy the same privileges men enjoyed without bias or prejudice. These rights involved right to education. He maintains that women should be educated in the same way even in professional courses.

Right to participate in electoral processes so as to enhance their welfare, right to enjoy equal marital status without being intimidated or made to look like a slave, right to gain employment without limitation to any given area. He also advocates for women’s right to own property in marriage and out of marriage. The benefits which the society stand to gain, the fate of women in Nigeria which they are still grappling with and the challenges of measuring up with their male counterparts also constitute parts of what this paper seeks to examine.



Title Page





Table of Contents


1.1       Introduction

1.2       Definition of Terms

1.3       Statement of Problem

1.4       Aim of Study

1.5       Justification of Study

1.6       Significance of Study

1.7       Method of Study

1.8       Scope of Study


2.1       Review of Related Literature




3.1       The Concept of Gender Equality

3.2       John Stuart Mill’s notion on Gender Equality

3.3       Gender Roles in Ancient Time

3.4       Mill’s opinion on women and marriage

3.5       Mill’s opinion on a woman’s right to own property in Marriage

3.6       Mill’s opinion on Equality of Education

3.7       Mill’s opinion on Women and Work

3.8       Mill’s Opinion on Franchise

3.9       The Relevance of Gender Equality

3.10     Gender Equality: the Nigerian Situation

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4.1       Evaluation

4.2       Conclusion

4.3       Works Cited


An Examination of John Stuart Mills Notion of Gender Equality




1.1 Background to the Study

Gender refers to the fact of being a male or a female and equality means being equal in rights, status or advantages. In the light of these, gender equality centers on balancing the gap between male and female counterparts. It maintains that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Equality is sought for in all ramifications of life for the two genders implying that there should not be any iota of disrespect, cheat, or denial of basic rights and privileges to any of the genders on the grounds that this one is a male or female.

In essence, it is an attempt to balance the gap between the male and female genders. But such has not always been the case; hence, John Stuart Mill in his book The Subjection of Women devoted time to addressing this issue of inequality being meted out to female gender. He wanted the total restoration of women’s right and equality. These rights cover every aspect of her life. He wanted to see women being free from their cocoon of subjection to enjoy same privileges that men enjoyed, because according to him, there is no significant difference between a man and woman (13). Such privileges according to him are: Equality of education.

Men and women should be given the same quality of education. Equality of right between spouses, the wife should not be treated as a less important being. Property right. When marriage is contracted, the wife is entitled to enjoy what they have as well. Equal right to vote. Women can take active part in electoral processes. By enshrining this equality, Mill believed that subjection of women would be curtailed so that as rational beings who were created by the same God they can exercise that right in equal proportion.

Allowing women to have a level-playing ground is the only way through which equality can be achieved, this means absence of deprivation. When women are excluded from taking part in what men are usually allowed to do, then there is partially and inequality. This becomes a subtle way of killing their talents. Women can actually do as much as men can do. All that is needed is, equality of opportunity should be made available to them since they have the same innate idea as men do.

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The contributions of related writers, the relevance of gender equality and the Nigerian situation of gender equality, that is its challenges in Nigeria shall constitute part of this research work. Also, Mill’s attempt to accord women with equal right as men constitute major problem which this research work is attempting to examine. However, his attempt to place women on the same cadre with men is a contentious issue which some men would not subscribe to. In the light of this topic, the salient issues raised by Mill which was inequality constitute the problem and which shall be given due attention because of the contention it raised being denial of equal right.


An Examination of John Stuart Mills Notion of Gender Equality

1.2 Statement of Problem

John Stuart Mills’ attempt to accord women with equal rights and privileges constitute the major problem which this work is attempting to examine. However, his attempt to place women on the same position with men is a contentious issue which most men would not subscribe to. Therefore, in the light of this topic, the salient issues raised by Mill which was equalizing of opportunities and privileges constitute the problem which this work shall give due attention to.

1.3  Aim of Study

The aim of this study is to examine John Stuart Mills’ notion of gender equality which he believed was the relegation of women to the background, that  is  denial of equal rights and opportunities and to show its relevance to our contemporary society.

1.4  Justification of Study

This research work is undertaken with the sole aim of discovering the disparity being meted out especially to women because of their status and also to seek out ways to address the challenge to bring about equality which will spur them up to develop and display their God’s given talents.

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This work is also aimed at eliminating the gap existing between men and women because attempt will be made to discover the root causes of such disparity.

1.5  Significance of Study

The significance of this academic noble research work is to discover the ill treatment that is often meted out to women in the form of deprivation and denial of their basic rights; the causes and the way out of such limitations to enable them express their talents maximally


An Examination of John Stuart Mills Notion of Gender Equality

1.6  Method of Study

While paying attention to the challenges of gender equality, the method will concentrate on examining John Stuart Mill’s submission on this issue with the intention of discovering the solution he proffered to the issue by making reference to his book and other related materials.

1.7  Scope of Study

            The study is intended to pay close attention to John Stuart Mill’s concept entitled An examination of John Stuart Mill’s notion of gender equality.

1.8  Definition of Terms:

The key terms that are used frequently in this work are gender and equality.

An attempt shall be made to explicate their meanings as they are used in this work. Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary 7th edition (619) defines gender to mean; the fact of being male or female. Therefore this definition shows the difference in masculine and feminine status. Enemuo explains that gender means

In more specific terms, gender is now widely used to designate the culturally defined, socially formed identities of men and women that are highly variable across cultures and are continually subject to change. This implies that the term gender denotes the different and unequal perceptions, views, roles and relevance, rewards which a society assigns to men and women through its culture (227)

Equality as defined by Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary 7th edition (492) means the fact of being equal in rights, status and advantages. In this context equality is referring to sameness of rights, status and advantages between men and women. It maintains that there should be same entitlement to all.

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