n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Bridging the gap between and parliamentary representation of women in Africa

Volume 41, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



This paper is predicated on a strong believe that the gender make up of African parliaments must reflect the gender demographics of African states. It is only when that is achieved that the concepts of equality, nondiscrimination and democracy can gain their true meaning. The paper asserts that the under-representation of women is prevalent amid the existence of international, regional and domestic instruments all providing for their right to representation in decision-making processes. Thus, it demonstrates that there is a gap between and representation. The paper then argues that the convoluted ideology of patriarchy, sacrosanct cultures, inviolable religions, the constructed public / private dichotomy, low levels of education, and the negative impact of globalisation all act in concert to deny African women their rightful place in decision-making institutions, particularly parliaments. The Rwandan and South African models are explored for purposes of gaining insights on how they have contrived to reach and exceed the critical mass of women in their parliaments. The study of these two countries' models shows that a combination of temporary special measures and gender mainstreaming, buttressed by strong legal and institutional frameworks, are effective tools in emancipating women and ensuring their representation in parliaments.

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