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African Women's Movements
Transforming Political Landscapes

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  • Date Published: November 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521704908

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About the Authors
  • Women burst onto the political scene in Africa after the 1990s, claiming more than one third of the parliamentary seats in countries like Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi. Women in Rwanda hold the highest percentage of legislative seats in the world. Women’s movements lobbied for constitutional reforms and new legislation to expand women’s rights. This book examines the convergence of factors behind these dramatic developments, including the emergence of autonomous women’s movements, changes in international and regional norms regarding women’s rights and representation, the availability of new resources to advance women’s status, and the end of civil conflict. The book focuses on the cases of Cameroon, Uganda, and Mozambique, situating these countries in the broader African context. The authors provide a fascinating analysis of the way in which women are transforming the political landscape in Africa, by bringing to bear their unique perspectives as scholars who have also been parliamentarians, transnational activists, and leaders in these movements.

    • The authors have been at forefront of African politics and women's movements at the local, national, regional and international levels
    • Situates African developments in global trends using a good mix of theory and empirical grounding
    • A realistic take on a continent that is often portrayed in very bleak terms
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    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

    Reviews & endorsements

    “This book counters the mainstream media image of Africa as a continent mired in the legacies of colonialism. The activist scholars writing here inspire us to recognize the impact of women’s transformative leadership in policy making and bring a message of women’s political activism as the urgent agency of social change.”
    -Peggy Antrobus, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)

    “Written by a distinguished team of African and American academics and practitioners, this outstanding book analyzes the ways in which women activists and politicians have been transforming politics in Africa since the early 1990s. With a particular focus on Uganda, Mozambique and Cameroon, the book nonetheless draws illuminating comparisons across countries and subregions. Finding that the most important single determinant of new policies has been autonomous women’s movements, the book addresses several paradoxes such as differences in legislative outcomes and the variable role of democratization. African Women’s Movements makes a significant contribution to our understanding of emerging African politics, women in politics and the role of social movements in Africa and will be essential reading for scholars and activists alike.”
    -Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware

    “An indispensable analysis of gender politics in Africa. This pathbreaking comparative analysis of African women’s movements focuses attention on the importance of associational autonomy and heterogeneity for the project of realizing gender rights. Theoretically smart yet engagingly written, this book is sure to become a standard text in a wide range of courses.”
    -Shireen Hassim, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg

    “This sweeping book investigates the explosion of women’s participation and activism in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s and 2000s. It analyzes how strong and independent women’s movements promoted policy changes toward gender equality in one-party states and in the aftermath of civil wars; why unprecedented numbers of women entered political office; and how state institutions were reformed to address women’s concerns. Explaining why some policy changes (such as quotas in parliament) are less controversial than others (such as family law and land rights), it shows that women’s equality is easier to achieve in state and market relations than in the domain of family, clan, and community. By unraveling puzzles of African gender politics, the authors advance theories of comparative politics and our understanding of state-society interactions under the influence of international norms.”
    -Mala Htun, New School for Social Research

    “This path-breaking book draws on a wide range of gender and politics scholarship as well as careful empirical research to explore important questions about the role of women’s movements in politics and policymaking in Africa. In a sophisticated comparative analysis, the authors, who are all experts in their field, show us how women’s movements and new international norms interacted with the changing political landscape in Africa to produce a number of women-friendly reforms. By significantly advancing our understanding of these complex phenomena, this book will make an important contribution to the study of gender and politics in Africa as well as to comparative politics, gender studies and African studies more generally.”
    -Georgina Waylen, The University of Sheffield

    "What the book does very cleverly is to bring together a lot of literature that has its origins in gender research that encompasses more than women's movements. To explain the role of women's movements, the authors provide analysis of women's representation as well as gender machineries, state bureaucracies, peace negotiations and the role of gender studies on the continent. This organization of the book shows that in order to understand women's movements, we have to use a wide-angle lens, an important focus...I recommend this book to a wider audience than African scholars and nonscholars; for gender researchers in the West, it will counter what the authors called the "safari stance."
    -Amanda Gouws, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, Perspectives on Politics

    "African Women's Movements: Changing Political Landscapes is [an] ambitious book.... The authors, a mix of African and American, activist and scholar, practitioner and politician, also bring to bear their own experience and expertise, with a focus on Cameroon, Mozambique, and Uganda. In huge brush strokes, the book tackles the rise of new women's movements across the continent, constitutional and legislative battles fought by women's movements, the struggle for greater political representation, engendering the state bureaucracy, and negotiating peace."
    -Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware, African Studies Review

    "Because African Women’s Movements examines, the intersection between policy, gender, advocacy, and electronic communication, the work encourages future discussion on women’s mobilization not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world."
    -Dawne Curry, University of Nebraska-LincolnH-Women Reviews

    "The book makes a significant and illuminating contribution to our understanding of gender and politics in Africa, and it will be essential reading for scholars and practitioners interested in the political role and influence of civil society organizations in general, and women’s movements in Africa in particular."
    -Åshild Falch, Journal of Peace Research

    "This book is a refreshing examination of women in politics and public organizations in many countries on the African continent. The book is a truly original and long-overdue transcontinental comparative study.... Recommended."
    -K. Staudt, University of Texas at El Paso, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521704908
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 1 map 10 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Historic influences on contemporary women's movements
    3. The rise of the new women's movements
    4. The challenge of new women's movements
    5. Women's movements and constitutional and legislative challenges
    6. In pursuit of equal political representation
    7. Engendering the state bureaucracy
    8. Women's movements negotiating peace
    9. Conclusions.

  • Authors

    Aili Mari Tripp
    Isabel Casimiro is the coordinator of the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique. She also coordinates the Woman's Program at the university's Center of African Studies and was formerly a member of parliament in Mozambique. She is author of Paz na Terra, Guerra em Casa: Feminismo e Organizações de Mulheres em Moçambique (2004) and other works related to the women's movement in Mozambique.

    Isabel Casimiro
    Joy Kwesiga is Vice Chancellor of Kabale University and former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere University. She is the author of Women's Access to Higher Education in Africa: Uganda's Experience (2002) and co-edited The Women's Movement in Uganda (2002) with Aili Tripp. Kwesiga was also a founding member of one of the leading women's rights organizations in Uganda, Action for Development (ACFODE).

    Joy Kwesiga
    Alice Mungwa is Senior Political Affairs Officer of the African Union Observer Mission to the United Nations. Prior to that she served as Senior Political Officer of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Previously, Mungwa worked as a program officer for gender and development with the Africa Leadership Forum in Nigeria and with a Cameroonian women's NGO.

    Alice Mungwa
    Aili Mari Tripp is Professor of Political Science and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her publications include Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania (1997), Women and Politics in Uganda (2000), several co-edited volumes, and numerous scholarly articles. Women and Politics in Uganda won the 2001 Victoria Schuck Award of the American Political Science Association for best book on women and politics in 2000 and a 2001 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award.


    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

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