News / Africa

Women on the Rise in African Politics

Women Rising in African Politicsi
X
February 08, 2014 11:57 PM
Africa now has three female heads of state, after Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic took office in January. Though women leaders remain the exception in African politics, activists say things are looking up. VOA's Anne Look has more.
VIDEO: Africa now has three formidable female presidents tackling everything from security to corruption.
Anne Look
Africa now has three female heads of state, after Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic took office in January. Though women leaders remain the exception in African politics, activists say things are looking up.

Women are breaking into the "boys club" of the African presidency.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, or "Ma Ellen," was the first in 2005 as the country emerged from 13 years of brutal civil war.
 
FILE - Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.FILE - Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.
x
FILE - Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.
FILE - Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.
​Joyce Banda stepped up in Malawi in 2012 after the sudden death of the president. She had been the vice president. 

And now there's President Catherine Samba-Panza in the Central African Republic, a country torn apart by rebellion and sectarian violence.

Each of these women has taken office amid crisis and transition. Countries like Mali have seen their first female presidential candidates. Bad times are finally prying the doors open.

"There's a joke I read the other day - when everything gets messed up, the women are asked to come in and clean up," says Executive Director for the NGO Women Africa Solidarity, Oley Dibba-Wadda,

She says girls and young women are getting much-needed role models.

"To say it is possible, I can actually be a president being a woman…These trailblazers have just opened the flood doors and it's just going to happen. There is no thinking of going back. We can't go back," she said.

As African women break political "glass ceilings" at all levels of government, some are criticized for not doing enough for other women.
 
FILE - Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech in Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.FILE - Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech in Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
x
FILE - Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech in Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
FILE - Interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech in Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
Samba-Panza made it clear from day one that she would be different. About a third of her Cabinet is female.

"I intend to respect parity because until now, the previous governments didn't give us a lot of seats," she said. "There were only two or three women. But I won't choose women no matter what. I need to have women of worth, who are able to accompany my actions."

Women hold just one-fifth of parliamentary seats and ministerial positions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Discrimination remains, but the pool of qualified women is growing as more girls get to stay in school.

At least 16 African countries have passed parity laws. Countries like Rwanda reserve a percentage of parliamentary seats for women, while others like Senegal have set quotas for women on candidate lists.

The percentage of women in Senegal's legislature doubled in 2012 thanks to the law.

But prominent Senegalese politician and presidential adviser Penda Mbow says true equality requires societal change.

"Parity laws may be one tool but they are not enough. We also need to fix what goes on inside political parties and let capable, promising women emerge naturally so that when they are promoted, no one can say they got special treatment," said Penda Mbow.

Africa now has three formidable female presidents tackling everything from security to corruption. Half a century after independence, women's time may have come.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rasheedat Sanni from: Nigeria
March 07, 2014 3:03 AM
There is actually nothing wrong with women leading,culturally though,in Africa,men are seen as leaders but unfurtunately,they have taken that position for granted and the care free ones have abused it to the detriment of those they are meant to lead whatever the case may be,so this challenging situation brings the women up to rule because naturally women are caring and loving,they tidy up!they are never comfortable with a disorganised system,as far as they are doing fine as leaders,giving every situation and people their due rights which I expect they will do because of their tending kind,then let's support them and believe in them.

by: Mamoeketsi Ntho from: Lesotho
February 24, 2014 9:34 AM
Qoutas go a long way to increase women's representation. But political party learders need to comply within their parties, more women need to occupy leadership positions within parties

by: Mwakhiwa from: Malawi
February 14, 2014 10:09 AM
Instead of tackling corruption Joice Banda of Malawi is the master mind behind all cashgate, the calamity currently rocking the nation!

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
February 10, 2014 12:16 AM
I support for women to take leading seats in politics because they are usually peace lovers and senseless battles would be more avoided.

by: JKF2 from: Great North (Canada)
February 09, 2014 9:39 PM
The fact that women are becoming heads of state, is the best and most hopeful sign that these African nations are transitioning to true democracies, and by so doing they will start the road to a better future. The most developed countries in the World, did so become only once their women were emancipated and allowed to fully contribute to the development of their nations. A strong participation of women in all aspects of their societies, not only needs to be encouraged, but it must be demanded from those that have obstructed the natural progession and advancement of women in society. One must take notice, that in most countries around the World in which women are denied their rights, those countries- contribute very little if anything to humanity, their economies are poor, in most cases they are tribal retrograde societies, they can't sustain themselves, and are involved in never ending internal conflicts. Bottom line, it is good to see that these African nations have taken one main step to real progress and a better life for all their citizens; all countries/societies, that are holding back women, by denying their full rights, need to emulate these few visionary countries, so that the emancipation of women is global/in every nation.

by: Vicky Sun from: SH China
February 09, 2014 7:41 AM
Great!

by: John marach from: South sudan
February 09, 2014 4:52 AM
But when women messed up who will come and clean them? Men will come and burry them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs