Africa: Less than a quarter of legislators are women

Africa: Less than a quarter of legislators are women

Date: March 18, 2021
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Press release:

 Less than a quarter of legislators in Africa are women, new report says.

Addis Ababa, 18 March: African countries are still far from achieving women’s equal and effective participation in political decision-making. Women constitute only 24 per cent of the 12,113 parliamentarians in Africa, 25 per cent in the lower houses, and 20 per cent in the upper houses of parliament, according to the first Women’s Political Participation: Africa Barometer 2021.

While local government is often hailed as a training ground for women in politics, women constitute a mere 21 per cent of councillors in the 19 countries for which complete data could be obtained.

These are some of the main findings from the Africa Barometer 2021 researched , written, edited and published by Gender Links with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA). The Barometer is a key resource of the International IDEA-led consortium: Enhancing the Inclusion of Women in Political Participation in Africa (WPP).

The Barometer aims to imbue the African continent, especially legislators and policy makers, with a resource through which they can assess progress over time in WPP; the underlying reasons, and evidence-based arguments to enhance advocacy campaigns. The report comes as the clock ticks down to 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Africa Barometer 2021 is a wakeup call that there is a huge amount of work to be done to achieve gender equality in African political institutions,” says H.E. Dr Joyce Banda, Former President, Republic of Malawi. “This report is a mirror that allows Africa to identify ways to progress on policies and monitor governments’ progress.”

In the Barometer, we are presented with a snapshot of the status of women’s political participation across all the countries of Africa. The Barometer also explores the long-term structural causes of women’s exclusion from political decision-making as well as more immediate barriers. Patriarchy, social, cultural and religious influences have led to many African women being rendered second-class citizens. The lack of economic resources is one of the biggest obstacles to women’s participation in politics.

The full report is available here: Women’s Political Participation: Africa Barometer 2021

Media queries:

Adebayo Olukoshi, Regional Director – Africa and West Asia,, is available for interviews in English and French.

Pinkie Mekgwe, Senior Regional Adviser,, is available for interviews in English.

Colleen Lowe Morna, Editor-in-chief – , is available for interviews in English.

Media contacts:

Alistair Scrutton, Head of Communications,, +46 707 211098

Lynn Simmonds, Communications Manager,

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