Global Resources

Women's participation in elections across Africa 2012

Author: Make Every Woman Count
Publication Date: Jan 2013

The Make Every Woman Count (MEWC) Political Participation and Election Monitoring Team was formed in order to provide deeper analysis of women’s participation in politics and elections in Africa. In 2012, they published this report reviewing all of the major national and regional elections that occurred in Africa that year, seeking to provide an overview of the role of women in elections across Africa by focusing on women’s political participation as well as female candidates vying for public office (both before and after the elections have taken place).

The report also aims to provide an analysis of women’s participation in African politics so as to help fill the void in election reporting in the international development field. By incorporating a range of perspectives and sources to reveal achievements and obstacles to women’s political empowerment, MEWC hopes to provide a platform for feminist views and voices of parties and voters from across Africa’s social, economic and public life.

The report contains profiles for each of the 18 national and regional elections across Africa in 2012. While the organisation saw a significant increase in women’s political representation in some cases , there were also several notable setbacks. For instance, in neither Ghana nor Guinea Bissau were there any female candidates, nor on the final presidential ballots in Egypt. However, that is not to say that women’s issues were absent; in Guinea Bissau, representatives of seven out of the nine presidential candidates signed the Political Declaration on gender equality and women’s human rights prepared by the Women’s Political Platform.

Meanwhile, gender quotas have been increasingly used as a tool for increasing gender equity in political representation. Algeria became the first and only Arab country where women hold more than 30% of the seats in the parliament; a huge victory for women in that region.

The report concludes that there is evidence to show how female participation significantly helps to increase the crucial culture of plurality in the post-conflict political process. Additionally, the authors note that sustainable democratic development is incomplete and impossible without the full inclusion and integration of women in all aspects of a nation’s culture and society.