Gender Equality in the Political Landscape of Southern African Countries: Progress and Problems of Evolvement

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Since the early 2000s, the expansion of women’s representation at all levels of government in South Africa and several Southern African states has become one of the main features of the formation of political leadership. There are both legal and institutional preconditions for this, such as the creation of quota systems for women’s representation in elective positions. The author notes the breakdown in the stereotype that women can be engaged exclusively in the social sphere (education, health care, problems of youth and children). African women successfully occupy the posts of ministers for foreign affairs, defense, security and finance. They make a significant contribution to the development of foreign and domestic policy, as well as to the solution of socio-economic problems. Based on the analysis made through functional, comparative and psycho-biographical methodological approaches, the author describes the main reasons for the insufficient level of political participation of women in some countries: the ongoing conflict between the principle of gender equality and the traditional order; the system of informal relations in politics; the low level of political literacy and the financial and economic status of women; as well as violence. Another important factor is the insufficient level of intra-party democracy. The author concludes that the representation of women in politics is only one (though very important) part of resolving the gender equality issue. The author argues that the further expansion of gender equality in Southern African politics will be facilitated by creating equal conditions for men and women to stand for election, implying real democratic principles within political parties, as well as developing a political culture that excludes the creation of preconditions for discrimination by gender.

About the authors

Liubov Ya. Prokopenko

Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1121-8828

PhD in History, Senior Research Fellow

Moscow, Russian Federation


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