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Governance in Heels

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As the clock ticks towards the 2020 US Election six women amongst others, have declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination in 2020. It’s the most women who’ve ever run for a major-party nomination in history.

Until this cycle, there had been, at most, two women who had ever competed in a major party primary, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Now, that number has already been far surpassed, as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Oprah’s spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, have all announced presidential runs.

Political science tells us that the surge of women this cycle is in large part due to the inroads Hillary Clinton made in 2016, along with the outrage women across the country have experienced since Donald Trump, an alleged sexual harasser, has taken office. The historic 2018 midterms, which saw the election of more than 100 women Congress members, also demonstrated that women could, overwhelmingly, win.

“Did Hillary inspire many women to run? Absolutely,” says political strategist Maria Cardona, though she adds that the visceral response to Trump’s presidency is likely an even more powerful motivating factor. “I think the anger and fear of what we’re becoming after Trump really lit a fire in women’s bellies.”

But there could be another explanation — one that many women running for office themselves have cited: If Donald Trump can be president, why can’t I run for office? Whether it’s a Clinton effect or a Trump effect is a matter of debate, but it has opened the floodgates for women, especially Democratic women, around the country.

What it takes to get women to run for office

A record number of women ran — and won — in the 2018 midterms, and the same dynamics that led to this boost could be contributing to the increase in women presidential candidates as well.

Clinton, the first woman to secure a major-party nomination for the presidency, carved out a path that other women could follow. Research has found that women in leadership positions can serve as key role models for younger women in their field, and help improve their performance. Additionally, one person’s efforts to break a barrier can make a position seem more accessible to others in the future.

“I think that Hillary did help, but also I think the victories in 2018 helped. It proved that women can mobilize women voters,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who runs Lake Research Partners.

Thus far, however, Democratic women candidates are still polling far behind other men expected in the field including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, though much of their leads could be driven by name recognition.

According to a Monday poll from Monmouth University, Biden is leading the Democratic field with 28 percent of voter support, and Sanders is coming in at 25 percent. Harris currently has 10 percent of voter support.

As much as Clinton can claim credit here, outrage directed at Trump has also been a major mobilization factor for women. Trump is unpopular with women — historically so. Sixty-five percent of women disapprove of his handling of the presidency, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, compared to 45 percent of men.

Trump also completely shifted the expectation on a candidate’s qualifications, Lake notes.

“Trump definitely mobilized women. Women used to ask, ‘Am I qualified enough?’ Donald Trump is such an unusual candidate and also, from a Democratic perspective, such a flawed candidate, it was liberating,” she says.

It’s also worth noting that women, historically, have been more likely to lean to the left than the right, with a higher proportion of women voting Democratic and running for political seats as Democrats. Fifty-six percent of women lean Democratic, compared to 44 percent of men, according to a Pew Research Center study.

The surge in Democratic women candidates can also be attributed, in part, to longtime investments the party has made in building a bench.

“The filling of the pipeline was a 35-year project or longer,” says Lake, who adds that Barbara Mikulski, one of the first women to join the Senate, used to joke that she was a 30-year overnight success. Emily’s List, one of the organizations that have led recruitment for women and training for women candidates, most recently heard from more than 42,000 women interested in running during the 2018 midterms.

As the New York Times’s Susan Chira noted in a story following the 2018 elections, the degree of funding Emily’s List has brought to the table for Democratic women far outpaces that of some of its Republican counterparts — a dynamic that illustrates just how much Democrats have committed to this effort compared to the GOP:

Emily’s List, which endorses and finances Democratic women who support abortion rights, said it raised $110 million this election cycle and has raised more than $600 million since it was founded in 1985. Value in Electing Women, one of the analogues for Republican women, has raised $4.5 million since it was founded in 1997, according to its website.

More women running is normalizing the presence of female presidential candidates

There are many positive effects of more women running for the presidential nomination, including the fact that gender is no longer solely being used as the differentiating factor among candidates.

“I think that any time we have more women running, and greater diversity among those women, it just challenges those monolithic conceptions of what it means to be a woman candidate,” Kelly Dittmar, an assistant political science professor and CAWP scholar, told CBS News.

Unlike 2016, when Clinton was notably the only woman in the race, this cycle’s Democratic primary and the diverse slate of women candidates competing in it makes it much tougher for voters to simply say they can’t find a woman whose policies appeal to them.

The women candidates this cycle also span the Democratic ideological spectrum, so there are fewer generalizations that can be made about their policy positions and strategies. Warren specializes in regulation of the financial sector, and Harris brings an expansive background as a California prosecutor, for example.

“In order to distinguish between them, voters would have to evaluate them on their policies beyond their gender,” says Mirya Holman, a political science professor at Tulane who studies the intersection of gender and elections.

All these female candidates could normalize even more women running in the future.

Source: Vox

In this moment, millions of lives are threatened by poverty, food insecurity, and climate change, sounding an urgent call to action to global leaders. But this year has the potential to be a turning point, as more than 150 world leaders are gathered at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York to launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit agenda will serve as a plan of action by the international community and by national governments to improve human lives and promote well-being for all over the next 15 years.

Each of the 17 SDGs focuses on a different aspect of development, including goals to address eliminating poverty, promoting good health, ensuring peace and justice, guaranteeing the access to clean water, and more. While the goals touch these specific areas, their success is contingent on a comprehensive integration reflecting the way they are experienced in an individual’s life.

Women, especially those who live in the developing world, are disproportionately affected by development challenges. For example, climate change has serious ramifications for agriculture, and women farmers currently account for 45 to 80 percent of all food production in developing countries. In the developing world, about 60 percent of the women’s labor force is engaged in agricultural work. This proportion can be up to 90 percent in African countries. In the context of climate change, traditional food sources become scarce and unpredictable, meaning women, and the households that depend on them, must cope with a lack of both food and income.

As leaders around the globe set the path to transform our world through sustainable development, they must not miss the opportunity to put women at the center of their efforts. One major aspect of that is to include women in political participation.

There are already a number of internationally agreed norms and standards that reinforce the need for women’s leadership and political participation, such as the 1990 Beijing Platform for Action, the 2003 and 2011 UN General Assembly resolutions on women’s political participation,  and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

These norms and standards stress the critical importance of women’s political participation in all contexts, and call on UN Member States to take actions that promote women’s participation in governance and remove barriers that marginalize women. However, according to UN Women, as of this year, only 11 women have served as head of state, only 22 percent of all national parliamentarians are female, and there are still 37 countries in which women account for less than 10 percent of parliamentarians.

The need to increase the participation of women in governance remains a priority. This is evident in the Sustainable Development Goals, in which goal 5.5 is to “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

Not only is this a goal in and of itself, but also women’s participation in governance is central to achieving other global development priorities. For example, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Research on local councils in India showed that in areas with female-led councils, there were 62 percent more drinking water projects than in those with male-led councils. This causal relationship is likely due to the fact that around the world, women are more likely than men to be responsible for tasks such as providing water for the family, and using the water to cook and clean and for agricultural work. Women therefore often have the greatest understanding of the deficiencies that exist, and can offer essential knowledge of how to advance their own rights by driving progress in development.

As the programs, policies, and funding take shape to achieve the momentous Sustainable Development Goals, it is critical for global leaders to encourage women’s participation in governance, amend policies that discriminate against women’s participation, and involve women’s groups in policymaking. Sustainable development will be reached if women are included as full partners in the effort.

Source; https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/heres-why-women-are-key-solving-global-development-issues/

In November 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formed the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history. In announcing his cabinet, he ensured that half of his closest advisers (15 out of a total of 30) were women. Canada’s gender-equal cabinet vaulted the country from 20th to fifth place in the world in terms of percentage of women in ministerial positions.

When reporters asked Trudeau about why gender parity was important to him, he retorted: “Because it’s 2015.” His simple yet momentous response resonated with those committed to equity, diversity and inclusion.

As public health researchers, this got us thinking — if increasing the number of women in positions of power promotes gender equity, could it also promote population health and well-being?

Our findings, published recently in the journal SSM – Population Health, support the argument that yes, women in government do in fact advance population health.

More Women in Power, Fewer Deaths

We first dug into the research literature to see how male and female politicians might differ from each other. Compared to their male counterparts, female politicians are more likely to hold left-wing attitudes (with regard to issues such as civil rights, social equality and egalitarianism) and substantively advance women’s rights in areas such as pay equity, violence against women, health care and family policy.

Also, research has shown that women in government tend to work in more collaborative and bipartisan ways and employ a more democratic leadership style compared to men’s more autocratic style. Women are also more effective at building coalitions and reaching consensus.

Next, we examined whether there’s a historical association between women in government and population health among Canada’s 10 provinces. Between 1976 and 2009, the percentage of women in provincial government increased six-fold from 4.2 per cent to 25.9 per cent, while mortality from all causes declined by 37.5 per cent (from 8.85 to 5.53 deaths per 1000 people).

Using data from provincial election offices and Statistics Canada, we found that as the average percentage of women in government has historically risen, total mortality rates have declined.

Women Spend More on Health and Education

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses Parliament in Wellington, N.Z., in May 2018 while pregnant with her first child. Many hope the 37-year-old will become a role model for combining motherhood with political leadership. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

This link does not of course mean that the increase of women in government has directly caused the decline in mortality.

To assess this, we regressed mortality rates on women in government while controlling for several potential confounders. Our findings support the hypothesis that women in government do in fact advance population health.

Interestingly, women in government in Canada have had a bigger effect on male mortality rates than on female rates (1.00 vs 0.44 deaths per 1,000 people).

We also found a pathway that connects women in government, population health and the potential role of partisan politics. In an earlier study, we found that four types of provincial government spending are predictive of lower mortality rates: medical care, preventive care, other social services and post-secondary education.

When we tested government spending as a mediating factor, we found that women in government in Canada have reduced mortality rates by triggering these specific types of health-promoting expenditures.

Women work in more collaborative ways

Image source: AP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand, Pool Photo via AP

We also found that there was no relationship between the political leanings of women in government — whether they belonged to left-wing, centrist or right-wing parties — and mortality rates.

Ideological differences among social democratic (e.g., NDP), centrist (e.g., Liberal), and fiscal conservative (e.g., Conservative) political parties seem to be less important to mortality rates than increasing the actual number of women elected to government. This finding supports the idea that women in government tend to work in more collaborative and bipartisan ways than their male counterparts.

It’s now 2019 and leading public health scholars still tend to downplay the potential effects of political determinants such as gender politics on population health. Instead, they opt to focus almost exclusively on individual and social determinants of health.

We believe gender politics matters in public health because it helps to determine “who gets what, when and how.” We believe that electing more women in government not only promotes gender equality and strengthens democratic institutions but also makes real and substantive contributions to government spending and population health. Given that women in government can bring about desirable changes in population health, let’s figure out how we can genuinely level the political playing field for women.

 

Source; https://theconversation.com/the-more-women-in-government-the-healthier-a-population-107075

In a more than half-hour address to the Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet highlighted concerns around the world, while also welcoming several firsts, such as the record number of women now serving in the United States Congress, where they make up nearly a quarter of the representation.

The new wave of women representatives taking up their seats in January indicated several “important steps for diversity,” she said. “They included the first Muslim American Congresswoman, the first Native American Congresswoman, and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. I hail all powerful women around the world and the model they present to the next generation.”

UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Moving on to the wider state of social justice around the world, the rights chief said that overcoming “gross inequalities” was key to achieving the 2030 Agenda, referring to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which Member States signed up to in 2015.

Hailing reforms in Ethiopia – where gender parity has been achieved in government; and Tunisia – where a woman was elected Mayor of the capital Tunis last year, the High Commissioner nonetheless warned that women human rights defenders globally faced a rising number of attacks. These include “physical and sexual violence, public shaming – including on the internet – and attacks on their families and children”, she said.

‘Precarious’ migration proves development gains aren’t universal

Turning to the issue of “involuntary and precarious” migration that affected young people in particular, Ms. Bachelet explained that it too was driven by inequality in the form of poverty, discrimination, oppression, violence, poor governance, climate change – and violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

“The continuing movement of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to the United States is a result of failure to ensure that development reaches everyone, with persistent violations of rights leading to profound inequalities,” she said.

The High Commissioner also welcomed efforts in Mexico to move from detaining and deporting migrants to a new rights-based approach that focused on “opportunities for regularization and alternatives to detention”.

‘Thousands’ more migrant children separated from families in US

Staying with US-bound migration, Ms. Bachelet cautioned against new restrictions that simply “push migrants back across the border”, while also expressing concern that “thousands more migrant children have been separated from their families than had been previously reported”.

In Europe, the issue of migration was no less dramatic, Ms. Bachelet explained, before welcoming efforts by Germany, Finland, Portugal and Spain to help those fleeing war and persecution.

Continuing reports of migrants leaving the North African coast on unsuitable vessels – and regularly drowning in the Mediterranean Sea – were evidence of the need to extend the scope of regular migration channels, as the European Union had indicated, the High Commissioner said.

“Another 226 deaths were recorded in the first two months of this year,” she said. “With several NGO vessels forced to suspend operations by measures that essentially criminalize solidarity, the ancient responsibility of rescue at sea is increasingly falling on merchant vessels – which are often ill-suited to such a task.”

Philippines war on drugs ‘no model’ for other States

Turning to the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on narcotics, Ms. Bachelet insisted that State policy “should not be more of a threat to their lives than the drugs they are abusing”.

Up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016, the High Commissioner said. Despite “serious allegations of extra-judicial killings, only one case – the widely reported killing of a teenage boy – has been subject to investigation and prosecution,” she added.

The country’s drug policies were not a model for any country, the High Commissioner maintained, before adding that she was also extremely concerned that Philippino lawmakers were considering “measures to reintroduce the death penalty for drug related crimes and reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 – or even nine-years old.”

Saudi Arabian female activists ‘must be freed’

In a speech covering more than 30 countries, the High Commissioner also appealed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to set free “several” female activists allegedly subject to ill-treatment or torture in jail. “The persecution of peaceful activists would clearly contradict the spirit of the country’s proclaimed new reforms,” she said. “So, we urge that these women be released.”

Yemen conflict will ‘scar’ generations to come

On the huge scale of suffering in Yemen, where fighting between forces loyal to the Government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi militia has claimed thousands of lives since 2015, Ms. Bachelet said that it would “scar the country’s future for generations”.

The conflict has not killed and injured thousands of civilians, bringing famine, “debilitating” airstrikes, shelling, landmines and acute malnutrition – especially for children.

Syrians fleeing ISIL must be given assistance

On Syria, the High Commissioner called on all warring parties to provide information about all those who have gone missing during the conflict, which began in 2011.

“I remain particularly concerned about the rising toll of civilian deaths in Idlib Governorate,” Ms. Bachelet said. “All parties must ensure that the thousands of civilians fleeing formerly ISIL-held territory receive adequate protection and assistance. And I join the Special Envoy’s call for a comprehensive political solution.”

Returning to the need to tackle “gross inequalities”, the High Commissioner insisted that it was possible for all countries – “not always the richest, in income or resources” – to adopt principled and more effective policies, grounded in the full range of human rights.

“By taking steps to advance civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as mutually reinforcing, they can count on building a strong basis for sustainable development and social harmony,” she said.

Source: UN News

Women spend 90 percent of their income on their families, economy and education, hence the increase in the number of women entrepreneurs contributing to the social development of the country, according to Turkey’s Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

“We need to produce more technology and innovative projects,” Pekcan said on March 9 at an event in the southern province of Antalya.

“We have young women working as engineers, software designers, and graphic designers. We need to direct them, use our resources correctly. We need more female entrepreneurs both for Turkey and to give the women their desired place in society.”

The minister pointed out that female entrepreneurship in Turkey has increased to 34 percent from 23 percent over the last 10 years.

“Indeed, the momentum has been growing rapidly in the last 10 years, but still the OECD average is 51.3 percent. It’s far behind,” said Pekcan.

“I see this as a chance to say that we have a potential of 15-20 percent. Men’s participation in business life is 72 percent. However, there are 130,000 women entrepreneurs and around 820,000 women who have their own businesses. We have 953,000 women managers. In companies where women work in decision-making positions, companies have higher profitability and efficiency. When you look at the rich north European countries, you see that women’s participation in business life reaches 60 and 70 percent. In other words, as the number of women in business life increases, the rate of national income increases in direct proportion.”

Women and young entrepreneurs will be informed on exports incentives, she added.

“We will inform women and young entrepreneurs about how they can benefit from export support. We will try to direct them to the sectors where our women will be successful,” the minister said.

Pekcan said her ministry is open to any kind of demand and suggestions from women, adding: “In addition, in cooperation with women’s NGOs, we have initiated a project to open up to the international market and compete in the market. In this direction, we are ready to provide all kinds of support as our ministry. We will provide export financing support to our companies, which are 51 percent owned by women. For this project, Turk Eximbank has already allocated $200 million dollars and 100 million Turkish Liras. We’re ready, are you?”

Source: Hurriyet Daily news

By Silvana Koch-Mehrin

99 years ago, the World War I ended and the League of Nations was founded. The first Oreo cookie was designed and the pop-up toaster patented. It’s stuff for the history books.

The latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report shows that it will take another 99 years for the world to achieve gender-equal political representation if we continue at our current pace.

Having only one woman for every four men in parliaments around the world is a clear indication of how ineffective societies are at tapping into the potential talent of more than 50% of the population. There are, of course, important variations: Nordic countries are the most gender equal, and Rwanda is the world champion for female participation in politics. Arab and Gulf countries, stand at the other end of the spectrum.

UN Women estimates that globally, men represent 77% of parliamentarians, 82% of government ministers, 93% of heads of government and 94% of heads of state. And every time a woman reaches the top of an organization or political party, it makes global headlines. Today, one can name all of the current female country leaders in less than 30 seconds. This trend extends across the private sector and in academia – the greater the seniority, the fewer women.

 

There are many reasons to care about this imbalance – Achieving gender equality in political participation has both intrinsic and instrumental value. Women in political office prioritize efforts to advance rights, promote equality, and leverage opportunity for women and girls. It’s a matter of human rights and it’s a matter of good governance.  The composition of executives and legislatures also affects the quality of laws and influences the extent of their application. Evidence demonstrates that women leaders are more likely to respond to public needs and tend to cooperate across party lines. Historically, this is not the case for men in power.

Unfortunately, a range of barriers – official and unofficial, formal and informal – limit women’s political participation. The Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) conducted a study on ‘The Female Political Career’. Analysing survey responses from 617 politicians – female and male –from 84 countries, the study was designed to understand the non-legal barriers women face in different phases of the political lifecycle.

The findings tell the same old story – one that applies globally. Women politicians tend to start their careers later, have fewer children, spend more time caring for their families, and arrange their lives to have shorter commutes than their male counterparts. Family commitments continue to constitute a major source of concern among women. “Gender equality begins in our homes,” says Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union (2010-2016) and a member of the WPL advisory board. Another said “three Ms stand in the way of women: money, media and men”.

Women and men also have different levels and types of political support networks. On average, female politicians receive fewer private donations than their male counterparts and rely more heavily on party sponsorship. Media portrayal and voter perceptions of ‘a woman’s place’ cast a longer shadow over women’s decision to run for office and to pursue higher positions.  While both men and women express concern about the many pitfalls of political campaigning, females often experience additional worry around stereotypical discrimination, the difficulty of fundraising, negative advertising, the loss of privacy and not being taken as a serious candidate. This can only change when more women are represented in politics and are seen as equal representatives to their male counterparts.

So what can be done to address these problems? In politics, networks are key. To accelerate their political careers, women need communication, connection and community. WPL aims to increase both the number and the influence of women in political leadership positions, optimising the power of communication and connection to build new communities of knowledge for women political leaders everywhere. Progress happens by convening women political leaders who have the drive and the influence to create positive change.

And this is not just about women. In a flagship campaign, WPL asked male presidents and prime ministers to complete the sentence “We need more women as political leaders because …”. Among the more than 70 respondents, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau explained: “When women engage in the political process, societies thrive and prosper.”

Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile (2014-2018), rightly puts it: “When one woman is a leader, it changes her. When more women are leaders, it changes politics and policies.”

So much has been accomplished in the last 99 years and so much more can be accomplished in the years ahead. But if we are to achieve our ambitious goals and see truly transformative change, we must make a more concerted effort to strengthen women’s political participation at all levels because a woman’s place is in politics.

Silvana Koch-Mehrin, is the President of the Women Political Leaders Global Forum, and had this published at the Political Leaders Global Forum, 2018.

In October 25, 2018, the Ethiopian parliament elected its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde. Though the role is largely ceremonial, it holds symbolic importance for women across the country and the continent, as Zewde will be the only female head of state in Africa. In her opening speech, she emphasized the importance of equality, telling MPs that if they thought she was talking too much about women,  she had only just begun.

Her election comes on the heels of another important step forward for Ethiopia, and neighboring Rwanda, who joined the meager ranks of countries with ministerial gender parity. In a cabinet reshuffle last week, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed ten female ministers, comprising half of the all cabinet posts. Days later, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame announced that Rwanda’s new cabinet would also be gender-balanced.

According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, fewer than ten countries have reached parity at the cabinet level. The global average for female government ministers is 18.3 percent, and more than a dozen countries have no women cabinet members at all. Ethiopia and Rwanda are part of a small club, and further unique for granting women substantial portfolios. Both named women to key ministerial posts; Ethiopia’s new minsters of defense and peace, and Rwanda’s ministers of trade and economic planning, are women. Of the female ministers in office worldwide, the vast majority hold posts that oversee social issues. In 2017, women were most likely to be ministers of environment (108), social affairs (102), family/children/youth (98), women’s affairs (68), education (67), and culture (65). Far fewer women served as ministers for justice (38), finance (19), and a mere fifteen countries—including Ethiopia—have a woman at the helm of the defense ministry.

In their announcements of the new appointments, both Prime Minister Abiy and President Kagame remarked that they believed women would improve the effectiveness of the cabinet. Abiy told lawmakers that women would help battle corruption and bring accountability to the government. Kagame noted to judicial officials that “a higher number of women in decision-making roles have led to a decrease in gender discrimination and gender-based crimes.”

To a certain extent, research bears this out. Women’s political participation is correlated with a number of gains that are particularly important for post-conflict countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda. A report from CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy program finds that, over a number of metrics, greater women’s participation in peace and security processes leads to more stability. Further studies find higher levels of women’s representation in government leads to a longer duration of peace, and lower likelihood of civil war relapse. Greater numbers of women in cabinet level posts correlates with friendlier working environments for women, and women’s political participation encourages confidence in democratic institutions and is linked with lower levels of extralegal killing, torture, disappearances and other forms of state abuse.

There are important caveats to these findings. Historically, the appointment of women to high-ranking posts has sometimes been instrumentalized for political ends, and several studies acknowledge that the transformative potential of women’s political representation is hindered when grassroots women’s activism is smothered. The Rwandan case in particular is evidence that even when women have high levels of descriptive representation, without an autonomous civil society, gains do not necessarily trickle down.

Nevertheless, this recent news represents a welcome step forward. In addition to Ethiopia and Rwanda’s history-making cabinet line-ups, Mali’s president announced last month a new cabinet that is 30 percent female, including in key posts like the minister of foreign affairs. Women in ministerial roles are slowly changing the face of African politics. Their presence is a necessary—if not sufficient—element to achieving long-lasting equality and stability.

Rebecca Turkington is the assistant director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations.