Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development

Legal Provisions for Gender-Based Special Measures in Africa

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and a necessary requirement for the development of any society. Women and girls constitute half of the world’s population; however, the issue of gender inequality continues to persist everywhere in the world.

Despite several efforts to promote the rights of the female gender, women and girls around the world do not yet fully enjoy equal rights as their male counterparts. In public life, women have become increasingly engaged in voting, joining political parties, and contesting primary and main elections. However, women rarely win elections, which has resulted in only a small number of women holding elective positions around the world. This is as a result of persisting structural constraints and barriers that reinforce discriminatory norms, practices and policies.


According to a report by UN Women, globally, women constitute only 24.3% of all national parliamentarians, which is a slow increase from 11.3% in 1995 with only four countries having 50 per cent or more women in parliament. The low representation of women in the political sphere led to the adoption of gender special measures (GSMs) also known as quota systems to increase women representation in politics. Studies show that gender equality in politics increases women’s engagement and participation and leads to a gender balance at all levels of government.

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