Politicians and activists claim that women from Africa are disproportionately underrepresented in executive leadership roles

One week ago, in Addis Ababa, Pre-Pan African Leadership Sawubona brought together female activists and politicians who are committed to bettering the lot of African women and the continent.

The conference attendees deliberated on how certain countries are starting to recognise the significance of equal treatment of women in public, political, and economic domains for the purpose of bolstering their own country.

But most African countries still have a long way to go because not enough women hold positions of decision-making authority. Men still control most political authority, with the exception of a few affluent women from dynastic political backgrounds.

They contended that widespread sexism, deeply rooted patriarchy in religion and culture, and inadequate political representation are the primary causes of the appalling conditions that women in the country endure.

The panellists stated that women’s political and personal emancipation is not prioritised nationally in several African countries. Moreover, women’s capacity to contribute to the advancement of their nations is restricted by the uneven allocation of political power, which is strongly biassed in favour of men. Furthermore, it abandons women to fight for laws that are just and considerate of gender issues.

They also talked on how critical it is for African women to be active changemakers in society and politics. Depressing statistics on economic and human growth can be improved by women.

In Africa, women hold only 7% of the positions of president, vice president, prime minister, and deputy prime minister, according to Eunice Musiime, executive director of Akina Mama Pre-Pan African Leadership Sawubona.

Of the 12,113 members of parliament, just 29.2 percent are women, while young women’s involvement rates in sub-Saharan Africa are far lower, at 1.8 percent.

Eunice Musiime,

She went on to explain that there is still a gender imbalance in the private sector, where women occupy 25% of board seats, 6% of CEO roles, and 28% of formal sector jobs. Women comprise up 43% of those with postsecondary education, but they only account for 2.5 percent of vice chancellors.

“According to UN Women, it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, at the current rate of progress. The growing backslide of democracy, anti-gender rights movements, the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights demand that we seriously question our leadership and governance structures.”

” We need to understand what it is about them that is failing us, because we cannot afford to lose the gains we have made. How can we ensure that women’s voices, agencies and leadership are equitably and meaningfully engaged in the various decision- making processes and spaces where our lives and our hardwon liberties are decided upon? “

The African Union Agenda 2063 envisions a universal culture of good governance, inclusive democratic values, gender equality, respect for human rights, justice,and the rule of law. In addition, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Maputo Protocol recognize the significance of women’s meaningful representation in governance and in how decisions are made; and that policies and laws that enable political, economic and social inequality, subversion of women and girls, intolerance and misogyny are redressed. ” she added

She clarified that despite all of these efforts, women and girls in Africa are still underrepresented in positions of authority and decision-making and continue to face significant gender disparities in both the public and private domains.

“In order to rethink and reimagine leadership and women’s political agency in the movement towards the Africa We Want, we have convened here at the Pre Pan African Sawubona summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This gathering serves as a collective space that aims to link our hearts, minds, and spirits. “

“It is our hope that this initial Sawubona will create a platform for dialogue and collaboration towards reimagining governance and women’s leadership in public and private sector and; foster stronger collaboration among Pan-African feminist actors, policymakers and thought leaders towards genuine inclusive democratic governance. Together we can make a difference in advancing women’s meaningful leadership in Africa.” She stated.

According to Mrs. Desta Tilahun, Deputy Head of Ethiopia’s Political Parties, women have traditionally had a challenging uphill battle in Ethiopian politics.

Desta Tilahun

“There are several obstacles in the way of female lawmakers, from limited resource availability to navigating a political landscape polluted by patriarchal norms. But even in the face of these challenges, there are stories of perseverance and determination that offer hope. Women legislators are an uncommon breed, but they have bravely championed women’s rights, pushed the envelope, and achieved gender equality from within the very institutions that have historically handicapped them.” She explained.

Dr. Dr. Kayitesi Jeanne Flora, Directorate of Women, Gender, and Development, AUC stated that it is imperative to boost the number of women in politics despite a variety of challenges. Studies have demonstrated that the participation of females in politics leads to improved governance, more inclusive processes for making decisions, and policies that are more likely to address the concerns of the general public. Consequently, the underrepresentation of women in Africa politics undermines the continent’s advancement while simultaneously betraying the principles of democracy.

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