The inclusion of women in decision-making is a fundamental human right and an issue of social justice. There can be no democracy where ‘decisions about changing the lives of people are taken without the participation of more than half of the very lives that have to be changed. It cannot be participatory democracy when decisions are taken by some on behalf of others’ (Mtintso 1997). Further, it has been argued that the participation of women in leadership positions has brought about ‘another perspective’ and resulted in increased focus, attention and allocation of resources to life quality issues such as health and education. The participation of women has been credited with bringing about a qualitative transformation of institutions, laws and policies (Molokomme 2001a). As Zofia Kuratowska, Deputy Speaker of the Polish Senate, noted ‘nobody with common sense can doubt that the participation of women in the political decision-making process should be comparable to [that of] men’. With that as background, this paper explores the extent to which intra-party democracy allows for the inclusion of women in electoral politics (Molokomme 2001b). There is no doubt about the political commitment of SADC member states at regional level to the attainment of gender parity in politics and decision-making, and indeed in all other spheres of life. In the light of this expressed commitment, I explore the performance or practice of SADC member states in the representation of women in political decision-making positions and the trends that have emerged in methods of facilitating the entry of a critical mass of women into political leadership. Finally, I reflect on the lessons that the DRC can learn from these experiences and their implications for a future in which gender parity will become the norm in SADC political systems.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections