One of the attributes of growth and evolution in a democratic state is how it chooses to view the issue of representation. In Africa, an inclusive political landscape reflects this phenomenon and adequate representation post colonialism has gradually shifted in the favour of women. Given that Africa has some predominantly patriarchal perspectives that challenge representation such including culture and religion, the continent and its political counterparts have actively ensured adequate representation.
Engagement and participation of women post colonialism has grown over the years. Africa is said to have the largest female participation, with Rwanda having 64% female representation in legislative seats. In countries such as South Africa and Senegal, 40% of parliamentary seats are held by women. Women have also been elected as presidents. There have been 9 female presidents in Africa since 1993 and 12 female vice presidents. Furthermore, 50% of African Union Parliamentary seats are held by women. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was a former Minister in South Africa took over as President of the African Union commission in 2012. Furthermore, women are said to be taking over more “serious” ministerial positions such as Defence and Finance as compared to those viewed as “softer” ministerial positions such as Social Development. In South Africa, the minister of defence is a female.
Such patterns and dynamics reflect the evolution of political representation in Africa, and redress gender based imbalances of the past. As it stands, Africa has the highest level of female representation in terms of leadership and politics, as compared to other continents.
The question is, does the dynamic that exists within the political arena translate into other spheres such as the corporate sector? How does this influence how young African women venture into other spheres of influence and how they view themselves as future global leaders? How much of the political landscape of Africa is reflective of female representation in Africa?
According to a McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report , 5% of CEOs in the private sector in Africa are women, compared to 4% globally. Furthermore, Earnings before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) for companies with at least a quarter share of women on boards was on average 20% higher than the industry average. This demonstrates that representation does not flow to other spheres of influence, and calls for a more robust approach that is actively facilitated in civil society.
Politics cannot be the only measure that positively reflects on the issue of representation. There is a plethora of socio economic issues that hamper the growth and representation on a continental level including gender based violence which is on the rise in Africa, including child marriages. Statistics show that 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18.
It’s been a long journey following colonialism and the rise of socio economic issues. Women are still seen as the lesser and weaker vessel, and this is reflective on a socio-economic level despite efforts to redress representation across the political landscape of Africa.
a perfect foundation needs to be prepared for future leaders to rise. This means robustly dealing with socio economic issues to accommodate, include, protect, and represent women.
Fearured image | Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf | AFrica Progress Panel| flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
Do you find this topic interesting? Why not contribute to our blog?