Drawing on examples from long and stable democracies (Botswana and Mauritius) and relatively newly established democracies (Malawi, South Africa, Zambia) in southern Africa, this chapter focuses on four areas. First, it discusses the (legal) instruments and provisions that advance the cause of women in politics and the progress made in meeting the targets set to bring more women into politics and decision-making positions. Second is an evaluation of women’s achievements in politics relative to men in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) since the 1990s, when the third wave of democracy spread through the subregion, advancing the practice of multiparty elections and opening up more space for lobbying by women’s associations. In particular, the aim is to gauge whether long and stable democracies fare any better than new democracies and vice versa, examine whether the 50% requirement by the African Union (AU) and SADC has been met, and assess the impact of women’s marginalization on the nature of democratic governance. Third, the chapter also interrogates major factors that hinder the realization of gender balance in politics and account for varying rates of women’s participation and representation in the SADC region. Fourth and lastly, it examines strategies and alternatives
that could propel large numbers of women into politics on par with their male counterparts.