About this Research Topic
A fair and successful government policy on women’s issues requires women’s equal representation in decision making. This equal representation is essential for the smooth running of democratic systems of government, especially in the developing world. Therefore, to achieve the best results in this kind of system of government, women’s representation should not be in numerical (descriptive representation) form alone, but also in substantive representation (effectiveness of this representation) in decision making. For this to be attained, women’s organizations over time have been involved in affirmative action, activism, and so on, to lobby governments’ decisions on issues pertaining to women, but they have achieved little so far through this means. Recently, there is a new push for the appearance of women’s organizations at decision-making tables to pave the way further for more women in the governmental and policy decision-making arenas and to represent women’s voices substantially at both local and national levels.
According to Marc Howard R. and Assefa H. (in Fidzduff M.and Church C., 2004), there are schools of thought that believe that these organizations are third parties and they cause confusion at the decision-making tables and it is better not to involve them. Other schools of thought, however, believe that these organizations represent the interests of the society and should therefore be involved in decision making processes where they can negotiate policies in the interest of women and the society at large. In support of the latter school, according to Ghaus-Pasha 2004 and Chitiga Mabugu et al, 2014, the United Nations Millennium Development goals are said to be impossible without the governments’ partnership with Non- Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, and other private sectors in developing countries. Hence, there is a need to study decision making processes in Africa and how well women’s organizations, under the umbrella of civil society organizations, are been involved, especially in relation to policies that deal with women’s issues. In cases where they are not involved, what are the implications of their absence in the decision-making processes of the state?
Key research questions that we would like to see addressed include, but are not limited to:
• What roles do women’s organizations play in governance in Africa?
• Can women’s organizations in Africa influence policies on women’s rights without being present in the decision-making arena?
• Are women’s organization meeting the expectations of those they are professing to represent?
• What are the different approaches used by these organizations to bring about women’s descriptive and substantive representation in democratic governance?
• What is the relationship between women’s organization and government in Africa?
• Are the perceptions of these organizations positive in African society?
• What are the strategies put in place in women’s organizing in Africa?
• What are the giant strides taken by women’s organizations to successfully bring about fair and equal representation of women in decision making in Africa?
Keywords: Women’s organizations, Decision making, democracy, descriptive and substantive representation
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