Democratization and Women’s Legislative Representation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Authored by: M.Y. Yoon

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Political Transitions
Country: Sub-Saharan Africa
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2001
Citation: Yoon, M.Y. "Democratization and Women's Legislative Representation in Sub-Saharan Africa." Democratization 8, no.2 (2001): 169-190.

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The recent transition toward democracy in the third world and the former communist states has reopened the debate on the effect of democratization on women's parliamentary representation. While some researchers envisioned unprecedented opportunities for women's entry into national parliaments, others showed that democratization actually decreased women's representation in parliaments. Although the bulk of literature praises the recent political change toward democracy in Africa and analyses the internal and the external factors of this change, very little attention has been given to the effect of this change on women, in specific, women's legislative representation. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine the effect of the recent democratization on women's legislative representation in Africa. Cases are sub-Saharan African countries that have experienced multiparty legislative elections between 1990 and 1999. The study found that democratization overall has decreased women's representation in parliament. The countries that have proportional representation systems tend to have higher women's representation in parliament than the countries with majority or plurality systems. Gender quotas appear to improve women's legislative representation, but are practiced only by a small number of countries.