Women in African Parliaments

Progress and Prospects
  • Gretchen BauerEmail author
Living reference work entry


Across Africa many countries are world leaders in terms of women’s representation in parliament with more than a dozen countries having 30% women or well more in their national legislatures. As in most parts of the world, women’s enhanced access to parliament over the last three decades in Africa may be attributed largely to the adoption of electoral gender quotas by governments and political parties, typically following a constitutional review process (often in the wake of conflict) and significant women’s movement mobilization. Increasingly, African countries are adopting stronger legislated quotas, even for gender parity. African women members of parliament have been found to be just as qualified as their male counterparts, if not more so, and a number of substantive and symbolic representation effects of more women in parliament have been identified. These include the adoption of laws that address women’s interests in the areas of gender-based violence, land rights, and family law and women’s enhanced engagement in politics (e.g., voting). While more women in parliament have not always led to more democratic polities, it is anticipated that experienced women legislators may contribute to more democratic dispensations in the future.


Parliament Electoral gender quotas Women’s political leadership Substantive representation Symbolic representation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science and International RelationsUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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  • Elsada Diana Cassells

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