All the countries of the world still have a long way to go in achieving complete gender equality, but some African countries are taking steps to close the gender gap.
Rwanda is the first country in the world to have the highest female representation in the legislature. Currently, it ranks first in the world in women's participation in politics, 61% in lower/ single house and 38% in upper house/ senate. In the annual World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, countries are ranked based on four points: degree of women's participation in the economy, their political involvement, their health, and educational achievements. Rwanda has been doing well in these rankings; in 2021, Rwanda ranked number seven globally.
Rwanda has been the only African country to be consistently top 10 in the rankings. With Paul Kagame in power at the time, the constitution was revised to promote gender equality; this was after the genocide where about 800,000- A million lives were lost.
According to the Gender Gap Report 2021, Namibia ranked number 6 globally. The Namibian Constitution is one of the few in the world to use gender-neutral language, and it prevents discrimination based on gender. Furthermore, the constitution states that customary law has to be subjected to the same footing as any other law in the country, meaning that it has to comply with the constitution. Customary law shouldn't in any way conflict with the constitution, especially regarding human rights and freedom.
Namibia has some excellent policies supporting gender equality; however, Namibia has a lot to do to achieve gender equality. Namibia has at least closed 80% of its gap.
3. South Africa
According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2021 rankings, South Africa was number 18. Women in South Africa occupy 42.7% of parliamentary seats, making South Africa the top 10 countries where women make up a near majority in parliament (Katarzyna 2019). South Africa also has gender-sensitive statistics that give the country more information that can be useful in making the government and people more committed to gender equality.
38.2% of seats in parliament are held by women (UN WOMEN). In the Global Gender Gap Index 2021 rankings, Burundi was ranked 26( World Economic Forum 2021). However, there is still much to be done in Burundi to achieve gender equality. Access to ownership of property, especially land, is one of the challenges.
Although there is still some work to be done regarding gender equality in Mozambique, the country has taken great strides from being ranked number 139 out of 159 countries in the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (USAID) to being ranked number 32in the Global Gender Gap Index 2021 rankings. Mozambique has a long tradition of promoting gender equality dating back to the post-colonial era; however, patriarchal culture makes it hard for women to achieve economic independence.
1. Katarzyna Lorenc Women in South African Politics: Gender Equality in the Republic of South Africa. July 2019.
2. UN Women. Burundi. https://data.unwomen.org/country/burundi
3. USAID, Gender Equality & Female Empowerment.
4. World Economic Forum. Global Gender Gap Report 2021, Insight Report March 2021.