Masculinity still grips power in Africa – Business Daily
The August 9 General Election in Kenya typifies a paradox of domineering female powerlessness in Africa. If the election results as declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stand the legal tests, it will prove that women who constituted 49.12 percent of all voters could not propel the majority of their own to local and national positions. They formed a paltry 12.18 percent of all candidates.
In the Kenyan context, seven female governors got into county leadership — a step-up from the last cycle. However, it appears the citizens still consider women not good enough for the presidency. Many gubernatorial and three presidential candidates paired themselves with female running mates.
The much talked about ticket of Raila Odinga and Martha Karua as presidential candidate and running mate, respectively might go down as one that did not arouse the gender vote as anticipated. It was fundamentally believed that, after a long wait, women would finally make a successful entry into the presidency and demasculinise it.
Across Africa, the situation seems to be the same with most countries having either one or two elections to go before the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) timeline. Elections in other countries like Mali, Libya, Somali, Guinea and Chad have been previously disrupted by coups and conflicts.
Legal, institutional, financial and societal challenges have kept many women off elective contests and subsequent presence at both local and national levels. Enviably, the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, stands out in East Africa among the 10 women who have demystified presidency gender norms in Africa either in acting or full time capacity.
Women’s Political Participation (WPP) Africa Barometer, 2021 notes that African countries are still far from achieving equal and effective participation of women in politics. In 19 countries with complete data, they constitute 24 percent of the 12,113 parliamentarians.
The continent seems anxious about this scenario and Africa’s Agenda 2063 commits to improving women’s political participation. Gender equality, as captured in SDG Five, provides for the increased and meaningful participation of women in political decision-making at all levels.
Different countries have diverse social landscapes but seem uniquely unified in patriarchy.
Women have tussled for political space in the presidency over the years but continue to play catch-up in their bid to achieve and sustain evenness with men. Gender ballot choices and the masculine lenses with which we look at the presidency hamstring gender equality and women representation.
Also, womenfolk have ironically entrenched male hegemony and perpetuated a self-induced political masculinity that works against them. Often, they are consciously influenced to withdraw political support to their own and paradoxically end up being their own enemies.
The solution lies in women nurturing others, embracing informed mutuality and placing political value on themselves to ride the complex waves of politics. It is through these steps that more women will have legitimate, hard-won public spaces in academics, work and politics without legislative affirmative actions.