Women’s Political Participation: Africa Barometer 2021

This publication is only available in electronic format
17 March 2021
978-91-7671-396-9 (Print)
978-91-7671-397-6 (PDF)

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. 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.

The Barometer is a key resource of the consortium Enhancing the Inclusion of Women in Political Participation in Africa (WPP) which aims to provide legislators and policymakers with data to assess progress in women’s political participation over time.


Résumé Exécutif


Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Electoral systems and affirmative action

3. Political parties

4. Electoral laws and management

5. Mainstream and social media

6. Civil society organisations

7. Effective participation

Annex 1. Mapping of gender organisations in Africa working on women's political participation

Annex 2. Interviews for the WPP Africa barometer

Annex 3. Latest elections in Africa by year

Annex 4. Women in parliament (LH) by rank 2021

Annex 5. Women in local government in Africa by rank 176

Annex 6. Women in parliament (LH) in Africa 2000, 2010, 2020

Annex 7. Women in parliament in Africa by region

Annex 8. Women in local government in Africa by region

Annex 9. National constitutional and legal instruments for women in decision-making in Africa

Annex 10. WPP in Africa by electoral system and quota. Lower house

Annex 11. WPP in Africa by electoral system and quota. Local government

Annex 12. Women in the top three political party leadership structures in Africa

Annex 13. Women in election management bodies in Africa

Annex 14. Women speakers of parliaments in Africa

Annex 15. Women mayors of capital cities in Africa

Annex 16. Women in top executive positions in Africa

Annex 17. Women and men in cabinet in Africa

Annex 18. Gender division of labour in cabinets of select African countries


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Image credit: International IDEA

Image credit: International IDEA 

Press Release

A collection of speakers from past events.

Top row from left to right: Patricia Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; Anne-Marie Goetz, Professor of Global Affair at the New York University; Maria Bassols, Deputy Permanent Representative for the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations; Malene Almeida, Coordinator at Praia City Group on Governance Statistics; Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor at International IDEA. 

Middle Row from left to right:  Annika Silva-Leander, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA; Keboitse Machangana, Former Director of Global Programme at International IDEA; Annika Savill, Executive Head for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); Njeri Kabeberi, Chair of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers; Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. 

Bottom row from left to right: Pippa Norris, Lecturer and Political Science at Harvard University; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Maria Leissner, Ambassador at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Riika Laatu, Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.