By: Josephus Moses Gray/ Email: email@example.com/
The international system in recent years has experienced a new phenomenon and fascinating developments in contemporary global politics regarding the increase in women’s political participation, from Africa to Asia, South America to Western Europe, except for the Middle East. The world, most recently, the international system has witnessed women’s ascendancy to state leadership positions across the globe.
This new phenomenon did not come easily, unfortunately, women paid the heaviest price based on situation from region to another, using Africa as a case study situation.
Although women, to a greater extent occupying lucrative public positions on the continent, their ascendency goes with pains and sacrifices, paying the price. At once a conflict region like Liberia and Sierra Leone, women were violated, harassed, beaten, raped, abused and stripped of their goods. Others were obliged to give themselves to the fighters to survive.
The women determination which started over centuries, almost achieved the mush anticipated ultimate objective for a woman to rewrite the political history of the United States of America and the United Nations, which would definite signal to the Arab World of women’s phenomenon.
But the crushing defeat of Democrats Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to the Republicans’ Donald Trump, U.S. President-Elect and the election of Portugal’s former premier Antonio Guterres, ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, who will succeed Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2017, have dealt a devastating blow to women’s dream.
Had the Republicans’ New York Billionaire, President-elect Trump not ruined the Clintons’ dream, women were to be in the middle of leadership of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) countries since one is currently headed by Theresa May of the United Kingdom of Grant Britain and Northern Ireland. These unforgotten political devastations took place in less than a month, all on the soil of the United States. A win for both women for the White House and UN Secretary post could complete history of women’s phenomenon in the men subjugated world.
While the Hillary enthusiasms were cutting across the world pessimistically, the Americans made their decisions for USA and not what the world wanted; they went for Trump, and not Hillary who the world wanted, this means America is not quite ready to have a woman for a president.
Similar situation occurred in New York at the UN where 194 UN Member States, not just America, decided to elect a male instead a female for the ninth Secretary General lucrative post. My disappointment is that women leaderships across the world failed to speak out on the defeat of all the six women candidates for the Secretary-General post but angrily have spoken out against Hillary’s defeat; or were they not interested in heading the global body.
According to statistical data obtained, currently there are about 18 female world leaders, including 12 female heads of government and 11 elected female heads of state (some leaders are both, and figurehead monarchs are not included), according to United Nations data. These women account for about one-in-ten of today’s leaders of United Nations member states. Half of them are the first women to hold their country’s highest office.
UN report (2015) indicates that while the number of female leaders has more than doubled since 2005, a woman in power is hardly the norm around the world. Sixty-three of the 142 nations studied by the World Economic Forum have had a female head of government or state at some point in the 50 years up to 2014, but in nearly two-thirds of those nations a woman was in power for less than four of the 50 years – including 11 countries (17%) where a woman led for less than a year.
But exceptionally, Africa leads in Women presidency and parliamentarians. This new phenomenon did not come easily, unfortunately, women paid the heaviest price based on situation. Although women, to a greater extent occupying lucrative public position on the continent, their ascendency goes with pains and sacrifices, paying the price.
At once a conflict region like Liberia and Sierra Leone, women were violated, harassed, beaten, raped, abused and stripped of their goods. Others were obliged to give themselves to the fighters to survive. The new political phenomenon across the world of women’s leadership can be described as a breakthrough of the female to the highest echelons of power. In several continents, including Africa and South America women are holding key positions they took the power in their hands.
In general, the proportion of women in decision-making in most countries is low and far below their proportion in the population and labor force. The participation of women deputies in parliament and other representative bodies is extremely important not only for women, but for society as a whole.
Practice shows that for women, such issues as the environment, child protection, health care, social security and so on, and the issues standing at the periphery of the interests of men. Among other things, the lack of representation of women in government provides a basis for the question of how legitimate the relevant political structure, whether the democratic political system of the state.
There are at least two theories about women in politics. According to one, in the policy there is a special women’s style, which is characterized by great attention to human, social issues. It is believed that a woman’s style is more peaceful, because women do not tend to solve problems by force, launch wars and conflicts.
The second view is that the style of the policy does not depend on the individual’s gender, but on the psychological characteristics of the policy, because there are men who are peaceful and attentive to the individual’s personality, and there are women who are warlike and are not careful people.
The process of flowing women into politics thoroughly shakes the stereotype politics – for men, family, and children – for women. But this categorize is not broken. In general, the proportion of women in decision-making in most countries is low and far below their proportion in the population and labor force.
The gradual changes of roles of the modern state not least formed a hard request for recovery of gender balance in the leadership of the state and create a more efficient mechanism of governance at all levels. That is why the promotion of women in power considered now as a tool of a stable, humane, and sustainable development of society as truly equal status between men and women change the priorities of the state policy, the life of the country.
Women are becoming more engaged in a variety of governmental to multilateral institutions of a local government, legislators, and even the executive. Africa is a leader in women’s parliamentary representation and presidency globally (BBC reports). In the decades leading up to 1990s, only six countries in sub-Saharan Africa had adopted quotas, while today more than half (25 out of 53) of all sub-Saharan African countries have adopted gender quotas which are measures that increase the chances of women being elected to office.
Liberia is working to follow same for greater representation in the Legislature. The 1995 UN Conference on Women held in Beijing helped to spur these trends by adopting a Platform of Action that encouraged countries to advance women’s political leadership.
The Prospects of Women Leaderships in Africa have gained momentum but much needed in this direction. The effect on societies and gender relations was much more profound in these post-conflict countries in South Sahara Africa, including Liberia, where the incumbent is a female and also Chair of Economics community of West African States (ECOWAS) while in Chad the current Interim president is a female and a former president of Malawi a female. Overall, there have been nine female prime ministers in Africa since 1993 and 12 female vice presidents 12 female vice presidents.
The African experiences are also challenging conventional understandings of the impact of religion on women’s rights. Religiosity and, in particular Islam, has been seen by comparative scholars like Pippa Norris and Ron Inglehart as constraints on women’s political representation. However, many of the countries that have adopted quotas in Africa have significant Muslim populations, including Tanzania, Mauritania, Senegal, Eritrea, Sudan, Niger, and most recently Somalia.
This trend has now continued in all the countries in the Maghreb, including Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco. Muslim-majority countries have been motivated to adopt quotas for a variety of reasons: as a result of pressures from women’s movements and from female elites; in an effort to comply with changing international norms and donor pressures; and in an attempt to win women’s votes.
Acceding to several publications, these patterns are primarily evident after in civil conflicts, which, unlike interstate wars required a renegotiation of the polity. The decline of conflict, one publication indicates often created opportunity structures like peace negotiations and constitution-making exercises that allowed women activists to press for a women’s right’s agenda and increased representation. The absence of such opportunity structures denied women and other civil society actors the ability to assert their interests and the lack of national reconciliation made it even harder to articulate a crosscutting set of interests among women.
According to Dele Meiji Fatunla, African affairs Editor, for record sake, there has been a list of 13 female leaders in Africa both Head of State and government, amongst them are former leaders and others are currently warming highest chairs of their countries. The continued dominance of political life in Africa by men is not good for men, it’s not good for women and it’s not good for the continent. At continental level, Beny Gideon Mabor discloses that it is evident that African women have made remarkable progress in democratic intercourse and become part of governance.
Today, women will cling to the political leadership and occupied the presidency in Liberia headed by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawi which was formally headed by a Joyce. There are number of Vice Presidents and Deputy Prime Ministers in Africa such as Joyce Majuru of Zimbabwe; Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-saidy of Gambia; Fernando da Piedade Dias of Angola and Dr.Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is heading the African Union for the time since its establishment in 1963.
At key institutional level, women are now the leaders of key ministries such as Hon. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala former Minister of Finance of Nigeria; Linah Moholo is the central governor of the Bank of Botswana as well as Parliamentary Speakers for Ghana and Uganda are women.
Generally, the African female leaders, both current and former must be thanked for their valuable role in shaping the position of women in Africa as integral stakeholders in governance equally with men. A topical example is late Agathe Uwilingiyimana, former Prime Minister of Rwanda who allowed herself to be brutally murdered in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in order to save her children after her 15 guards were slaughtered during the genocide. May God rest her soul in peace!
In other jurisdictions, despite challenges facing women in transitional democracies, nevertheless, the government of the day in some African countries managed the issue of gender sensitive a priority. Countries such Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya and Rwanda all rank highly for their level of women’s representation in parliament. The only country in the world with the highest number of women in parliament is Rwanda.
African countries have some of the world’s highest rates of representation: Rwanda claimed the world’s highest ratio of women in parliament in 2003 and today Rwandan women hold 64% of the country’s legislative seats. In Senegal, Seychelles and South Africa, more than 40% of parliamentary seats are held by women, while in Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Uganda over 35% of seats are occupied by women. By contrast, women in the US women hold 18% of the seats in the House and 20% in the Senate.
The parliamentary patterns are evident in other areas as well. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first elected woman president in Africa in 2005, and more recently, Joyce Banda took over as but later lost her bid for reelection in Malawi.
Also the current interim president of Chad is a female while there have been 12 female vice presidents like Wandira Speciosa Kazibwe in Uganda and nine female prime ministers in Africa since 1993, including Luisa Diongo in Mozambique, who served for six years. Since 1975 Presently there are female vice presidents in Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Gambia and Djibouti and there have been others in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Burundi.
Of particular, Josephus Moses Gray’s new book titled The Paradigm of Oil Diplomacy chapter Six covering 35 pages detailed women leadership world particularly Africa. It is an fascinated subject to read. Going further, Gray’s book narrates the contributions of women activists such as Madame Mary Brownell, a respectable woman of society by all accounts, a classroom teacher and peace campaigner. Her search for peace he said has gone beyond national borders, and have greatly impacted humanity.
Also highlighted in the book are African women in top leadership such as the Presidency, Vice Presidency and Prime Ministers, respectively. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s First female democratically elected president is lauded for her hard works and contributions in restoring her nation’s image abroad and for the maintains of peace and stability. While Angie Brooks Randall, is also mentioned; the first female president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and Senator Ruth Sando Perry, former Chair of the Six-man Council of State.
The book, also, revealed how Sando Perry is credited for her efforts in helping to restore law and order and improving the overall conditions in the country during the transitional period. Also singled out is Roberta Leymah Gbowee, peace campaigner and joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize who led the women’s movement to help end the war in Liberia. The book further detailed Mother Suakoko of Bong County; her role in the fight against injustices for her country.
Women leadership also cut across the globe, India has had the longest stretches with a woman in power, with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and later President Pratibha Patil serve a combined 21 of the past 50 years. Ireland and Bangladesh ranked close behind, also with 21 years of female leadership apiece. Austria, Ecuador and Madagascar had the shortest durations of female leadership. In those countries, a woman led for just two days. Austria’s two-day female leader served in an interim period, but in Ecuador and Madagascar, women leaders were forced out and replaced by male politicians.