‘Why participate in elections if we’re not properly represented?’ Women’s political participation and representation in SADC countries

Increased democratisation in Southern Africa might suggest that gender
equality no longer matters in the politics of countries in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) region. Yet the political participation and
representation of women remains controversial owing to gender stereotypes,
rhetoric, tokenism and patriarchy. Critically examining the political
processes in the SADC region, specifically elections, gender and women’s
role in a democracy, the article acknowledges progressive legislation and some
‘successes’ in a few countries in the region, but contends that the situation
of women in the politics of these countries remains unsatisfactory and that it
requires political will and collective action to ensure substantive participation
and representation in governance processes. Based on a literature review, data
analysis and theoretical postulations about women’s political participation
and representation, the article argues that much more needs to be done in
this regard. To understand the hurdles women face in politics in the SADC
region, especially political party rhetoric and patriarchy, the author explores
a few theories, including the Ubuntu philosophy, and revisits the debates
over women’s quotas in political parties to improve participation and
representation. The conclusion suggests measures for empowering women
candidates and political party members, while urging women to show more
interest in politics, particularly elections.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: African National Congress (ANC), angola, Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Female representation, lesotho, Mozambique, Rwanda, SADC countries, South Africa, women in politics