The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), and the Solemn Declaration of the Heads of State of the African Union on Gender Equality in West Africa (2004) enshrine the equal participation of men and women in public and political decision-making.
However, women in West Africa still face multiple obstacles to their political participation. Structural and political barriers such as discriminatory laws, inequitable electoral arrangements, socially ascribed roles for women and men, religious and traditional systems and structures, inadequate financial resources, political violence and conflict are among the factors that limit women’s opportunities to run for public office or to exercise their right to vote in some cases. In many countries in this region of Africa, women are less likely than men to have access to higher education, political and business networks, and the resources needed to compete on an equal footing with men in the political arena. Men’s general monopolization of the political arena, particularly within political parties and state institutions, and the patriarchal and sometimes violent nature of electoral processes, hinder or even discourage women from participating as key political actors.
This situation is reflected in the figures on the number of women Representatives in the sub-region. According to statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as of January 2019, only three (03) of the 15 countries in West Africa had more than 17% women in parliament, with Senegal leading the way with 42% and ranking fourth in Africa. It is followed by Cape Verde with 23.61% and Guinea with 21.93%. The last on the list are Benin with 8.43% and Nigeria with 5.6% where no country has achieved parity. The rate varies, in fact, between 41% in Senegal and 3% in Nigeria.
- Our work
The attachment of the network to the participation of women in decision making led it to fight for the consecration by the African Union both in the Charter of the Institution and in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa, the principle of equal participation of men and women.
WiLDAF-AO and the national networks have fully invested in this field through projects and actions initiated to ensure a better representation of women in decision-making positions.
- Project : “Good governance and women’s participation in seven West African countries
Financial partner : European Union
Total cost : 1 019 608 € or 668 819 005 F CFA
Duration : 2 years
Countries : Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo
Objectives : Contribute to the effective participation of women in governance at local and national levels.
- 455 people trained
- 14 training manuals at national and decentralised levels,
- 1 manual at sub-regional level Ang/Fr
- Adoption of priorities and official recognition of the 23 coalitions formed and named “women and good governance coalitions” constituting pressure and advocacy groups strong enough to obtain legislative reforms.
- Awareness and influence actions in the field of women’s participation in decision making; on electoral processes, health, education; gender mainstreaming in policies, plans, programmes and budgets.
Some examples :
-In Nigeria COPAWIG and WiLDAF Nigeria, have integrated a network of civil society organisations in Lagos State that has mobilised to increase women’s participation in the electoral process, especially as candidates for elective positions in Lagos State.
-In Benin, 1435 women stood for local government elections in 2008, up from 1199 in 2002.
–In Togo, out of 2122 candidates positioned for the October 2007 legislative elections, 205 are women.
–In Mali, 47 women ran against 238 candidates in Sikasso for the legislative elections, while 18 ran in Kati, which was a first in these two localities targeted by the project.
–With regard to the results of the legislative elections, the number of women elected rose from 13 to 17 in Burkina Faso, from 23 to 33 in Senegal, from 5 to 9 in Togo, and from 6 to 9 in Benin.
-In Benin, the number of women elected at the local level increased from 44 to 60.
–In Ghana, the NDC which won the elections promised 40% representation of women in government at national and local levels
-In Togo, a law and a decree have been taken by the Togolese government:
Law n°2007-018 on the public financing of political parties. Article 9 of the law provides that the State shall allocate to political parties a bonus for the promotion of women. Each political party will benefit from a financial bonus proportional to the total number of women elected in legislative or local elections.
Decree No. 2007-073 fixing the amount of the deposit to be paid for the early legislative elections. Article 2 of this decree grants a 25% reduction per female candidate to any list of candidates…
- Projet: « Putting equality and women’s rights at the heart of public policies ralating to COVID in 4 West African countries : Benin, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, Togo »
Financial partner : Crossroad International and African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF)
Countries : Benin- Cote d’Ivoire- Ghana -Togo
Objective : To contribute to reducing the risks of women’s rights violations linked to the coronavirus situation in 4 countries
- four (4) studies on the impact of Covid19 on women and girls available in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo ;
- four (4) “Covid19 Response Coalition” set up in the four countries covered by the project ;
- four (4) policy briefs available for advocacy ;
- mass sensitisation and radio and TV broadcasts on different media including social networks ;
- the CAJUD (Digital Legal Aid Centres) Tool available and 10 Legal Aid Centres or listening centres equipped with the CAJUD Tool ;
- legal reforms following advocacy actions with targeted decision makers
In 2016, in Mali, capacity building for 150 women on the leadership and content of the National Accord for Peace and Reconciliation improved women’s political participation at the local level and their involvement in the national reconciliation process.
There was an increase in female candidates and an increase in the number of female councillors. Thus, four hundred and forty-six (446) female candidates ran in Bamako in commune IV for the communal election of 20 November 2016, compared to two hundred and seventy-six (276) in 2009; five hundred and ninety-seven (597) female candidates in commune VI compared to three hundred and thirty-six (336) in 2009. There has also been an increase in the number of women elected at the local level as evidenced by the following findings :
– In Timbuktu, eight (08) women councillors out of twenty-nine (29) were elected at the end of the communal elections of 20 November 2016, compared to two (02) women councillors out of twenty-three (23) in 2009.
– In Goundam town, six (06) women were elected out of seventeen (17) councillors against two (02) women out of seventeen (17) councillors in 2009; in Tonka seven (07) women were elected out of twenty-three (23) councillors against one (01) woman out of seventeen (17) councillors in 2009.
– In the district of Bamako, thirteen (13) women are elected in commune VI against seven (07) women in 2009 ; in commune IV fourteen (14) women against four (04) women in 2009.
In 2019, in Senegal, with the support of the Ford Foundation, a study was conducted and recommendations were made to improve the participation of women in management bodies at all levels. The report of the study is still used to this day as an advocacy tool for the effective application at all levels of the principle of parity enshrined in the Senegalese constitution under pressure from the feminist movement.