IWD: How democracy is failing women

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In honour of International Women’s Day 2019 Susan Dodsworth and our very own Nic Cheeseman have published a hard hitting critique of the way that democracy is failing women, and why our most popular measures of democracy only reflect the situation facing men.

The Mail&Guardian article begins, “The fundamental equality of citizens in terms of their right to vote and participate in the political system is a cornerstone of democracy. So why do so many African democracies perform so poorly when it comes to women’s political representation? And why do so many of the measures that we use to rank democracies fail to reflect this?

Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day: the perfect time to start a debate about why so many democracies are failing on this issue, how we can better measure democracy to reflect the realities faced by both women and men, and how much we lose if we exclude women from the political system.

The state of play

The last twenty years have seen genuine progress in Africa when it comes to women’s parliamentary representation. In 1995 the average share of women in lower houses of Parliament was just 10%.
By January 2019 this had more than doubled to 24%. This is a significantly higher figure than Asia (20%) and the Middle East (18%), placing the continent only just below the world average.

Although this improvement is noteworthy, it masks a number of very different trajectories. While Rwanda leads the way in global female political representation, with women making up a majority in Parliament, many African countries continue to perform poorly. This group includes some countries where politics has often been characterized by conflict, such as Nigeria (where women make up just 5.6% of the Parliament) but also those that are known to be more peaceful and democratic, including Benin (7.2%) and Botswana (9.5%) …”


To read the full article, click here

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