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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MALS: Leadership

Directing Professor

Andrew Matzner


Africa has had two female heads of state since winning independence from colonialism, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, and Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania. The female population of Africa is 50 percent (, and in most countries, the male to female ratio in leadership is disproportionate. The exception to this is Rwanda where women hold 61.25% of the seats in parliament. South Africa is second, with 46.1% representation. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, women have 3.6% of the parliamentary seats (Faria, 2021). The dearth of female leadership in Africa is however not unusual worldwide, in the United States Congress for example only 26.7% of the seats are held by women. There are varied theories why women are underrepresented in leadership of African society, this author intends to show that patriarchy is the biggest driver of this imbalance.

There are historical indications that African societies have not always been patriarchal and in present day, about a sixth of the ethnic groups in Africa have matrilineality as a cultural norm. There are also indications that these groups have a higher participation of women in government (Robinson & Gottlieb, 2019).