Over the past several decades, women politicians have made strides in Africa. The share of parliamentary seats held by women increased from 7 percent in 1990 to 17 percent in 2007.
The Rwandan parliament is a world leader in terms of female political participation, with 56 percent of its seats held by women. Liberia now has Africa’s first elected woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Watch Worldfocus’ signature story and an extended interview with Sirleaf: Africa’s first elected female president lifts Liberia.
But this heightened gender equality in government has not necessarily translated into equality in everyday life for the majority of African women, who still face disproportionate poverty, violence and challenges in accessing education.
Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show explored the political, economic and social implications of the rise of women power players in Africa.
Thank you for your questions. Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests:
Micheline Ravololonarisoa is the chief of the Africa Section at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). She has more than 25 years of experience as a sociologist, feminist and activist specializing in African development and women’s issues. Micheline began her activist career with a student movement in her native Madagascar and was forced to leave the country in 1974 because of this work. She has served as program director at the Agency for Cooperation Research and Development (ACORD) and remains a member of several African and international women’s networks, including Akina Mama wa Afrika and ABANTU for Development.
Lynn Sherr is an award-winning journalist and author who has contributed to Worldfocus reports from Liberia, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. She is a former correspondent with ABC’s “20/20” and covered a wide range of stories, specializing in women’s issues and social changes, as well as investigative reports. Lynn is the author of “Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words” and “Tall Blondes.”
Aili Mari Tripp is a professor of political science and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the director of the Women’s Studies Research Center. Her research has focused on women and politics in Africa, women’s movements in Africa, transnational feminism, African politics (with particular reference to Uganda and Tanzania), and on the informal economy in Africa. She is co-author of “African Women’s Movements: Transforming Political Landscapes” and author of “Women and Politics in Uganda” and “Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania.”
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