Gendered institutions and women’s political representation in Africa

From participation to transformation

Diana Højlund Madsen


Empirically-based analyses of the intricate dynamics of the formal and informal institutions influencing women’s political representation in Africa.
During the course of the past three decades efforts of democratisation and institutional reforms have characterised the African continent, including demands for gender equality and women’s political representation. As a result, some countries have introduced affirmative action measures, either in the aftermath of conflicts or as part of broader constitutional reforms, whereas others are falling behind this fast track to women’s political representation. Utilising a range of case studies spanning both the success cases and the less successful cases from different regions, this work examines the uneven developments on the continent.

By mapping, analysing and comparing women’s political representation in different African contexts, this book sheds light on the formal and informal institutions and the interplay between these that are influencing women’s political representation and can explain the development on women’s political representation across the continent and present perspectives on an ‘African feminist institutionalism’.

Author Bio

Diana Højlund Madsen is a Senior Gender Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. She has worked and published extensively on gender and politics in an African context with a specific focus on Ghana. Her work on Ghana includes articles and book chapters and she holds a PhD on gender mainstreaming in Ghana from Roskilde University, Denmark.

Table of Contents


    1 Feminist institutionalism, women’s representation and state capture: The case of South Africa Amanda Gouws 

    2 Confronting the double-bind dilemma in the representations of Joice Mujuru in Zimbabwean newspapers between 2000 and 2008
    Mandiedza Parichi 

    3 Candidate training programmes in Africa –
    A waste of resources or pedagogies of the oppressed? Experiences from Letsema training workshops in Botswana (2013–19)
    Sethunya Tshepho Mosime and Maude Dikobe 

    4 Party primary candidate nomination institutions, informality and women’s candidature in Malawi’s parliamentary elections
    Asiyati Lorraine Chiweza 

    5 ‘Inspiring a revolution’: Women’s central role in Tanzanian institutions, independence and beyond Catherine Cymone Fourshey and Marla L. Jaksch 

    6 Experiences of gender equality legislation in Kenya: The role of institutions and actors
    Shillah Sintoyia Memusi 
    7 Women’s political representation and institutionalism in Nigeria – historical perspectives
    Monica Adele Orisadare 

    8 Affirmative action in Ghana? Patriarchal arguments and institutional inertia Diana Højlund Madsen 

    Concluding remarks 


    Gender and representation scholars have been good at explaining why some African countries are among the top-ranked in the world when it comes to the high levels of women elected into elected offices. If you are interested in some in-depth insights into the mechanisms and dynamics of countries lagging behind their more well-known neighbours, this is the book for you to read.
    Ragnhild Muriaas, University of Bergen

    This book is an important and interesting contribution to the literature on women in politics in Africa. It provides a rare collection of rich case studies from eight African countries of how informal institutions in numerous ways work to exclude women from political spaces.
    Vibeke Wang, Chr. Michelsen Institute


    Publication Date: 24 December 2020
    288 pages

    Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781913441210
    Hardback: 9781913441203
    eBook ePub: 9781913441173
    eBook Kindle: 9781913441180

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