Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2014

Women's Political Participation In Sub-Saharan Africa

Aili Mari Tripp

May 2014

Social Science Research Council


One of the most interesting developments in African politics since the mid-1990s has been the increase in women’s political participation. Women are becoming more politically engaged and seeking representation at all levels, from local government to legislatures and even executive office. To state the obvious, access to political power is important to groups that have historically been excluded from formal and informal politics because it means being able to have control over basic decisions affecting one’s life in areas including health, education, and access to land and resources, among many others. Many women seek power to affect how justly resources are divided in society and how equitably policy decisions are made. This study looks at explanations for changing patterns in women’s political engagement in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on legislatures (largely based on data considerations).