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Factors Affecting Womens Participation in Politics: A Comparative Study of Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda

6 pages
1508 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Factors Affecting Womens Participation in Politics: A Comparative Study of Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda

AbstractThis paper is a comparative study of factors that affect womens representation in politics at national level and also covers four countries: Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. The main purpose of the study was to examine and to facilitate a deeper understanding of the factors within each case that affect womens political participation at national level based on, why in some countries womens political participation is seen as the leader in advocating for gender equality while others continue to lag behind, despite the adoption of some measures for women's greater participation in politics.

In all four countries, the study found that gender equality is guaranteed in their constitutions and those cases have many pieces of legislation and policies adopted to improve gender equality at the national level. However, challenges remain in the implementation coupled with the influence of socio- cultural, political, economic factors and existing of customary laws in general. Admittedly, those cases have played active roles in fostering women's involvement in politics, but there are still many challenges to be overcome in order to achieve the quality of womens participation in Parliament. Even where the number of women in Parliament has reached, it doesnt mean that all women in a country have reached equality. Therefore, there is a need to focus on womens effectiveness in political positions and promoting women's influence over decision-making processes at all levels, especially in investing and fixing transformational change in the system of governance in relation to institutional norms and values.

The purpose of the central focus was to identify the factors and strategies that have been successful in some countries in enhancing womens political participation at national level and evaluate whether or not these policy changes and achievements could be replicated in others. Using the case studies, the overall objective was to examine how some countries have achieved higher rates of female representation in parliaments than others, while all case studies have the same constitutional commitments to gender equality, and further have ratified the same instruments relevant to womens empowerment. In order to assess and analyze the cases, the Structured, Focused Comparison and Process Tracing approaches have been selected and used. The use of Process Tracing helped to test and refines the hypothesized causal mechanisms. Whilst the Structured, Focused Comparison was utilized in order to properly provide explanations and perform the comparative case studies. This study has used a deductive orientation in order to reach a logical conclusion. Therefore, in order to apply stated choice methods, five different variables and hypotheses were formulated based on the literature review. Furthermore, the analysis of this work was based on the results of tested hypotheses against empirical cases in order to better understand the meaning of the results, especially by identifying the similarities and differences among cases. In one words, the analysis was made mostly due to the interpretation and understanding of the hypothesis test outcomes.

At the end, data triangulation was also used in order to increase the validity of the research. The research shows that where joint efforts from these bodies were made, huge strides were made and womens representation in higher political offices increased. At the end of the day, this may encourage young womens zeal to pursue political careers and more active political participation, because of seeing their fellow big sisters' efforts that play in politics and public office.

Keywords: Constitution, Quotas, Factors, Womens political participation.

List of Abbreviations ACHPR African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights

ANC African National Congress

AU African Union

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

EC European Commission

EGM/EPDM Report of the Expert Group Meeting/ Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making

FIDA-K Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya

FIDA-U Federation of Women Lawyers-Uganda

FPTP First Past The Post

GMO Gender Monitoring Office

ICASO International Council of AIDS Service Organizations

ICESCR International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

ICRW International Center for Research on Women

ICRW International Center for Research on Women

INTERNATIONAL IDEA International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

IPU Inter-Parliamentary Union

MDGs Millennium Development Goals

MPs Members of Parliament

NGOs Non-Governmental Organisations

NRM National Resistance Movement

PR Proportional Representation

RPF Rwandese Patriotic Front

SDGEA Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa

ULA Uganda Land Alliance

UN United Nations

UNDP United Nations Development Program

UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women

UWONET Uganda Womens Network

Dedication / AcknowledgementsDedication

I dedicate my thesis work to my deceased family members whose lives would have undoubtedly made a contribution to this world. A special feeling of gratitude to my late father and mother whose motto work hard first and play later still inspires my work ethic today. After all this hard work, I intend to rest as I contemplate on your love and determination. You have never left my side and you will always be missed.


First and foremost, praises to God for giving me life, protection and blessings throughout my thesis work to complete research successfully. I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to my research supervisor Anders Nilsson, for his most encouragement and support in every step of the way. His invaluable feedback, detailed advice and motivation were deeply inspiring and helped me throughout this research.

My special thanks are given to the teaching staff in the Department of Peace and Development Studies for their support and guidance. I am extremely grateful to my best sister in law Alice who always believes in me and never stops encouraging me every step of the way to finish this project. I am very thankful also to my entire family for their continuous emotional support and unconditional love. To my brother, Joe Jakes, for proof- reading my thesis and thereby significantly improving my academic English.

Finally, I express my gratitude to all my friends. A special and heartfelt mention goes to my honored friend Lars Svensson who has never stopped to give me moral support and guided me in different matters regarding the intellectual growth. Thank you for encouraging me in all of my pursuits and inspiring me to follow my dreams. I thank again my friend Calle Lof and his family. You have my deepest gratitude. This research would not have been completed without their love and care. They have never stopped amazing me and thanks for enriching the quality of my life during the most difficult time here. God bless you all.

1.0 IntroductionThe introduction chapter is divided into different sections: research problem, research objectives, research questions and importance of the study. Firstly, it provides a broad picture of the problem in reality. Furthermore, it provides also a short description of the problem that this study will look into including the research questions that one intends to follow. Second, it portrays the significance of this research and at the same time the research methods. Finally, both delimitation and limitation of the study has been taken into account.

Womens rights around the world can be seemed as one of the key barometers against which to measure the well-being of the global community. Womens political under-representation and exclusion from important decision making positions is a failure of todays democracies. Globally, women make up just 17% of parliamentarians (UNICEF, 2007). In the African context, women are often reluctant to run for public positions, and this is partly attributed to cultural prohibitions on women to actively engage in community activism or simply hold public offices.

Therefore, those practices and beliefs are still generally hostile to womens involvement in politics (Kamlongera, 2008, p.474). For instance, Africa had the lowest female participation in politics in the 1960s (Tripp, 2001, p. 142) but today it is seeing the fastest rates of growth of women in politics. When examining the factors of mandated political representation for women, it is of higher interest to look at representation in constitutional bodies than in other political bodies since the Constitution is supreme law, which provides all people equal treatment under its amendments. Despite some significant progress Africa has made in terms of development, still many challenges remain in relation to gender equality.

All voted for the Constitutions, but implementation is a problem. In spite of efforts provided by the governments of case studies in adopting their Constitutions and ratified international/regional instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1979, Beijing Declaration in 1995, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) , Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa 2004 (SDGEA), MDGs ( Millennium Development Goals) in 2000, (African Protocol) Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women (2004), women's rights are still denied specially in having a political role in the public sphere. In a way some countries are promoting a positive international image than others in related to womens political representation. Fact about women in politics is that they are still under-represented in governments, which means that their governments do not yet fully implement their Constit...

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