Numerous declarations have addressed the need to advance women’s rights and status in Africa. In August 2007, for example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development reaffirmed a minimum goal of 50 percent women’s representation in parliament. Despite ongoing public support for these sorts of measures, however, the status of women, particularly in areas of politics and governance, has seen only nominal improvement. In Botswana and Lesotho, women represent only 11.1 and 25 percent of parliamentarians, respectively, which places them toward the bottom rankings for SADC countries. This problem exists primarily because political parties, which play a central role in identifying and training political leaders, do not see the value in women assuming party leadership positions or running for elected office.
To address these challenges, NDI is working with Gender Links, a South Africa-based organization with significant experience in promoting gender equality in SADC, to help conduct political party assessments and support the training of women political activists. NDI and Gender Links (GL) have adapted NDI’s “Win With Women Political Parties Assessment Tool” to fit the SADC context, and will party leaders and activists in Botswana and Lesotho to implement the assessment tool. The results of this process will inform NDI and the political parties as they work to develop action plans to rectify the identified obstacles to the equal participation of women. Finally, NDI and GL will conduct a multi-party skills-building workshop in each country to introduce aspiring women leaders to the tools necessary for full engagement in the political process as civic activists, voters, candidates, political party representatives and elected leaders.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form.