Side Event

CSW65 Side Event: Women’s Political Participation in Africa: Old Barriers, New Frontiers

The sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will take place from 15 to 26 March 2021. The priority theme of the session is 'Women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls'.

International IDEA will be hosting a side event under the ambit of the CSW gathering entitled Women’s Political Participation in Africa: Old Barriers, New Frontiers. This global event will mark the launch of the inaugural Women's Political Participation (WPP) Africa Barometer by Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of Malawi, one of  only two female presidents to be elected to office in Africa, on behalf of the Sida-International IDEA WPP Africa Consortium.

The Barometer resonates with the CSW priority theme focussing on women’s effective participation and decision making. The side event will provide a platform for sharing key findings of the Barometer, perspectives of various democracy stakeholders, including civil society, young women, and female politicians under political persecution. The Barometer uses a number of yard sticks to measure the progress of women in political participation including the proportion of women in political decision making at all levels of governance. This research product highlights the intricate barriers for women in political participation in institutions, systems and norms across Africa. Finally, the research provides pointers to strategies that contribute to an increase to and meaningful participation of women in political decision-making.



The side event to launch the WPP Africa Barometer aims to:

  • Present the key findings of the progress and gaps in women’s political participation at all levels of governance and in institutions related to political decision making;
  • Provide a platform to share experiences of women in politics including young women with a focus on challenges and opportunities they face;
  • Discuss the strategies and status quo of institutions related to political participation including documentation practices and policies;
  • Explore new frontiers for improving women’s political participation in Africa; and
  • To share experiences from other regions outside Africa on women’s political participation.



The side event is expected to raise awareness of the status quo of women in political participation in Africa including the gains made and the existing gaps. The event will prompt advocacy efforts on WPP across the continent with the aim of contributing towards a paradigm shift to dismantle structural, institutional and social barriers for women in political participation. The discussion will enrich the publication, linking it with other regional and global gender-equality processes. The side event will inform the future of WPP projects' interventions.



15:00 – 15:05
Introductions and Welcome
  • Dr Pinkie Mekgwe – Regional Advisor, Africa and West Asia – International IDEA
  • Frew Demeke- Sida, Embassy of Sweden in Ethiopia
15:05 – 15:10
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
  • Professor Adebayo Olukoshi – Regional Director, Africa and West Asia – International IDEA
15:0 – 15:25
Keynote Address
The Importance of Measuring the Progress of Women in Political Participation in Africa
  • HE President Joyce Hilda Banda – Former President of Malawi
15:25 – 15:30
Introduction of Panelists
  • Dr Pinkie Mekgwe
15:30 – 15:50
Presentation of the WPP Africa Barometer Findings
  • Colleen Lowe Morna – Special Advisor, Sustainability Hub, Gender Links 
15.50 – 16.00
At the Coalface of Women in Political Participation: Strife and Opportunities
  • Dr Stella Nyanzi  - Politician, gender activist and scholar, Uganda
16:00 – 16:10
New Frontiers of Engagement for Young Women in Politics
  • Bogolo Joy Kenewendo - African Economist and Managing Director of Kenewendo Advisory, former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana
16:10 – 16:20
Global Lessons and Strategies on Women in Political Participation
  • Anne Githuku-Shongwe – Representative, South Africa Multi Country Office, UN Women
16:20 – 16:45
Open Discussion and Response
16:45 – 16:55
Closing Remarks
  • Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora  - Secretary General, International IDEA
16:55 – 16:00
Vote of Thanks
  • Fadzai Traquino – Director, Women in Law Southern Africa (Zimbabwe chapter), Member of the WPP Consortium Steering Committee



Partner Organizations/collaborators: 
FAWE, FEMNET, Gender Links, IFAN Gender lab, Padare, SIDA, WLSA