AFRICA: Rise in public support for women doesn't match on-the-ground wins

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Woman farmer Mount Kenya
As part of a 2010 climate change study in Mount Kenya a woman farmer works in her field and gives feedback with her findings. Today women throughout Africa contribute to their local and regional society; but are they actually being supported with increased education, progress and inclusion on all levels? A new study by Afrobarometer says no. Image: Neil Palmer/CIAT

(WNN) Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA: A new comprehensive study report by research associates Afrobarometer, working with on-the-ground surveys through Ghana’s CDD – Center for Democratic Development along with the IREEP – Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy and IJR – Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa is bringing new insights into the reasons on just why women in the African region are not as engaged as their male counterparts when it comes to political engagement. The new report also is highlighting some of the reasons why women prefer not to speak out or become local activists.

“Data for Afrobarometer Round 5 was collected across the [African] continent from 2011 to 2013. The survey asks questions on a wide range of issues including democracy and governance, economy, approval ratings of leaders and institutions, decentralization and local government, living conditions, perceptions of corruption, security, national and ethnic identity, as well as media and election preferences,” shares Afrobarometer.

Data in the study, after partners of Afrobarometer surveyed over 50,000 people in 34 countries, shows that intimidation is one of the major reasons women are not participating privately or publicly in their government system. While public support for women has been present, numerous women are privately not feeling they are being included in important platforms like education. This is an important contributing factor as women opt-out in letting their voices be heard.

A surprising number of women are also staying ‘disengaged’ as many are not currently registered to vote in their home regions, reveals the study.

Some of the countries where women, as well as men, suffer from the highest level of intimidation, with the worst countries listed first, include Zimbabwe, Guinea, Kenya and Cote d’lvoire. But these nations are not the only regions where women are suffering from exclusion. North Africa, including the nations of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, are showing that women continue to receive the lowest amount of public and private support for leadership positions.

“Across the globe, women and girls lack access to the levels of education, economic power and political leadership enjoyed by men. Women account for 64% of the 774 million illiterate adults in the world,” outlines the study. “Among employed women, wages are from 70% to 90% those of men, and women are less likely to be hired for leadership positions. Globally, and in Africa, just 21% of parliamentary members are women,” the study continued.

Support for the equality of women has shown a steady gain with a 10 percentage rise in positive growth throughout Africa from 2002 to 2013, but the gender gap for education shows that the problems facing women who hope ‘to get ahead’ remains a real and steady challenge.

Issues revealed by the study point to underlying issues of marginalization versus public support for women that are now calling on all governments to work harder to train and engage women as leaders and to push much more toward on-the-ground literacy training as well as higher educational and technical training opportunities for women and girls to meet the stated goals for government and NGOs – Nongovernmental organizations throughout Africa.

For more information on the current state of affairs for women’s engagement, equality and leadership possibilities throughout Africa see the Afrobarometer study HERE


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