How can we get more women involved in politics across Africa?

June 15, 2021 1045 views 1 comment 3 minutes reading time
How can we get more women involved in politics across Africa?

African women have long been regarded as the pillar of society. 80% of women are subsistence farmers and informal traders, and a significant number are sole providers in their families. However, despite shouldering the social and economic burden, they are still under-represented in the political arena.

While there are more women in charge of portfolios traditionally held by men, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf remains the only woman to have been elected to presidency in Africa. Women who enter politics are often appointed “soft issue” portfolios which include social, children or family affairs. Women are held back from breaking the political glass ceiling by deeply-entrenched patriarchal social, religious and cultural values. Furthermore, there is a prevalence of male-dominated political parties and electoral systems that are slow to transform.  

However, we can’t forget African women who are doing great work in the political arena. There have been admirable progress made with women occupying over 24% of parliamentary and ministerial positions across sub-Saharan Africa. This compares favourably with developed democracies like the USA. Furthermore, Rwanda, Namibia, and South Africa have been trailblazers not only in Africa but across the globe with almost two-thirds of Rwanda’s parliamentary seats and almost half the South African and Namibian legislative positions being occupied by women.

 This has been the result of proactive measures that pave the way for women’s participation in politics, such as gender quotas and seats reserved specifically for women. But has the continent done enough to give African women an opportunity to lead?

What do our readers think?

Our reader Mabedia thinks that while African women have been ready, “there are still challenges within systems.”  What more can be done to increase women’s access to leadership?

For an answer to this question, we took Mabedia’s comment to Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations.

For another perspective we put Mabedia’s question to Ms Nazley Khan Sharif a member of Parliament from the Democratic Alliance party in South Africa.

Would Ibijoke Faborode the Co-founder of ElectHER agree or disagree with Amina Mohammed or Ms Nazley? She gives us her perspective on Mabedia’s question

How can we get more women involved in politics across Africa? Is the responsibility of achieving gender parity entirely on women leaders or should political parties and other policymakers take the initiative? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image by UN Woman/Ryan Brown via flickr


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