1st Edition

Engendering Democracy in Africa Women, Politics and Development

By Niamh Gaynor Copyright 2022
    202 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book investigates women’s political participation in Africa. Going beyond the formal institutions of electoral politics, it explores a range of spaces where everyday politics take place, at national and at local levels.

    In recent years there have been significant improvements in the number of women elected to parliament in Africa. However, there is little indication that this is translating into better developmental outcomes, and indeed there is mounting evidence that it could in fact help to bolster some authoritarian regimes. Starting from the premise that politics is a far broader project than securing a seat in national or local legislatures alone, this book explores the opportunities for women’s political participation across a number of informal spaces where women and men gather, organise and interact in a more regular and systematic manner. Combining insights from political science, sociology and feminist theory and drawing on detailed cases from the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Rwanda, it examines how power in its multiple dimensions circulates across a range of everyday political spaces, while drawing attention to the links between domestic gender inequalities and the global political economy.

    Inviting scholars, practitioners and activists to broaden their focus beyond formal electoral institutions if they want to support women to become more politically active, this book provides fresh insights into major issues at the heart of African studies, development studies, gender and development, democratisation, and international relations.

    CHAPTER 1: Engendering democracy in Africa: Beyond numbers, CHAPTER 2: Why engender democracy: Gendered inequalities in development, CHAPTER 3: How to engender democracy: The 4W framework, CHAPTER 4: Looking East: Africa’s Lion economies and national development planning, CHAPTER 5: Seizing and transforming local spaces: The politics of decentralisation, CHAPTER 6: NGOs, the media and the public sphere: Evolving arenas for political participation, CHAPTER 7: Community associations, adaptive chieftaincies and the public sphere: Local politics of capture, compliance and contestation, CHAPTER 8: Conclusion: Lessons, tensions and reasons for hope


    Niamh Gaynor is an Associate Professor in International Development, Dublin City University, Ireland.

    "This book is a much needed antidote to the national level focus of most studies of democratisation and development. Drawing on a rich empirical base, it looks at the sites of everyday politics, showing how they are gendered. The chapters explore a wide range of spaces, ranging from the fast growing ‘Lion Economies’ in Africa to decentralisation practices, NGOs, the media, community associations and traditional authorities. This timely book uncovers new opportunities, challenges and lessons for women’s empowerment."

    Professor Aili Mari Tripp, Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science & Gender and Women’s Studies, Co-Editor, American Political Science Review, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

    "This book transcends the WID/GAD development literature to incorporate different bodies of theory, such as post-structuralism and discourse theory.  It connects theoretical premises with varied empirical research in Africa, weaving a rich tapestry of insights and novel understandings. It deftly navigates different aspects of gender politics such as substantive representation, informal networks, protest and institutional politics, looking to Asia for solutions.  I look forward to using it with my students."

    Professor Amanda Gouws, SARChI Chair in Gender Politics, Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa