Africa: Women from P♂lls to P♀lls

ZAMBIA: Women Resume Struggle for Representation Ahead of Elections

Zambians head to the polls sometime before October and civil society groups are working hard to ensure their voices are heard. Groups which were excluded during the 2005 elections and the National Constitutional Conference that began in 2007 are mobilising to ensure they are not excluded.

Judith Mussacula (centre) with pupils from her school. Credit:  Courtesy Judith Mussacula

MOZAMBIQUE: Educator in the Foothills of Her Political Career

If women like Judith Mussacula realise their aspirations to become the next generation of Mozambican politicians, the country's future will be in safe hands.

POLITICS-ZAMBIA: Days of Male Domination Numbered

Elizabeth Phiri was so incensed when she was overlooked as a parliamentary candidate for the Patriotic Front in a 2008 by-election on the basis of her gender that she quit the party. Four years on, she has rejoined the party but remains pessimistic - but other women politicians see reasons to hope the 2011 elections will be different.

Botswana Parliament’s Speaker a Well-Loved Woman

It would have been hard for a teenaged Margaret Nnananyana Nasha to imagine that she would grow up to become one of the most powerful figures in Botswana's government.

Geejabai Teemulen is among the women being trained ahead of this year's local government elections. Credit:  Nasseem Ackburally/IPS

Mauritian Women Dreaming of Active Politics

"We have had enough of the training given to us in cooking, sewing and household works... We now have another dream: of participating actively in the development of our island at decision-making level," says Marie-Anne Laganne, a political trainer at Women In Politics.

KENYA: One Woman’s Turbulent Journey to Success

Mount Elgon in Western Kenya is one of the most marginalised regions in the country. It is so marginalised that it is the only area where not even an inch of tarmac road has been constructed.

SOUTH AFRICA: Rising Leader With Her Feet on the Ground

Zanele Magwaza-Msibi is a woman with a mission: to serve the people of South Africa. She is poised to become leader of South Africa's newest political party, the National Freedom Party (NFP), after breaking away from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), where she served as national chairperson.

Noncedo Pulana and her children in Khayelitsha Credit:  Erna Curry/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: New, Assertive Women’s Voices in Local Elections

Noncedo Pulana lacks many things, but she is certainly not short of confidence as she prepares to stand for election as Khayelitsha ward councillor. She feels her long years as an activist in the sprawling township have prepared her to do a better job.

Local govt previously provided space to advocate for the basic needs of women like these. Credit:  Claire Ngozo/IPS

Malawi Missing Its Local Government

An hour and fifteen minutes each day: Melina Kalunga has plenty of time to measure how long it takes to resolve a legal battle over Malawi's Electoral Commission.

South Sudanese ready for referendum. Credit:  USAID

ELECTION-WATCH: Stakes High in What Might be Africa’s 55th State

South Sudan is memorable for unbearably high heat, persistent noise from the generators that help cool the temperatures and glaring poor infrastructure.

Election poster in Juba, Southern Sudan Credit: Fatma Bilal/IPS

ELECTION-WATCH: Countdown Begins to Southern Sudan Referendum

"We want an independent country of our own that is Southern Sudan, and we want a new country". Calm and with a passion in his voice, the secondary school teacher, John Kiri, a native from Juba explained the excitement he is feeling for Sunday’ referendum.

Namibia Finance Minister, Saara Kuugong Credit: Brigitte Weidlich/IPS Credit: Brigitte Weidlich

POLITICS- NAMIBIA: Numbers of Women in Government Declining

Twenty years after independence, representation of women in senior government structures and in Parliament is declining in Namibia. According to the latest demographic survey results of August 2010, out of a population of around 2 million, women outnumber men 10:9. In 2001, the ratio was 94 males per 100 females.

District Councillor, Sandhya Boygah Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally

MAURITIUS: They Do Politics Differently

"I do politics every day, but partisan politics? No, thank you," says Jane Ragoo, long-time trade unionist and social worker. She believes in working to bring about change in society and improve people’s lives but has no interest in clambering onto a truck to campaign for office.

Displaced women and her baby, Rift Valley Region Credit: Miriam Gathigah

HUMAN RIGHTS: Festive season a nightmare for Kenya’s Displaced

The Christmas season comes with joy and merrymaking in Kenya, where preparations for the festivities are underway as people crowd the street to shop for clothes and gifts. But even as the cheer spreads all around, the situation is different for the thousands of internally displaced Kenyans (IDP's) still living in various camps.

Opposition Supporters in Abidjan Credit: Alexis Adele

POLITICS: Human Suffering Escalates in Cote d’Ivoire

For three days, 25-year-old Ousmane Traoré attended the private clinic in the populous district of Abobo, north of Abidjan. Suffering from gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen as a result of the Ivorian opposition demonstrations, he was forced to leave the main hospital in Treichville, south of Abidjan, due to a lack of assistance.

Albertine Yahwah and fellow refugees Credit: Tamasin Ford

REFUGEES: Liberians Struggle to Cope With Fleeing Ivorians

Albertine Yahwah sits on a hard wooden bench, cradling her little baby in her arms. The 20 year-old walked from the Ivory Coast with her two children and her husband to reach this small town across the border in Northern Liberia.

Malawi’s Women Pushing for a Place at the Table

No sooner had Mariness Luhanga announced her intention to contest local elections in Mzimba district in northern Malawi, than she was summoned to appear before a village court on allegations of insulting men.

Zimbabwe Women Make Themselves Heard on Draft Constitution

A parliamentary select committee has begun compiling comments on a new constitution, gathered at 4,000 meetings held across Zimbabwe over the past three months. Gender activists are confident that women's views have been expressed; it will be up to the eventual drafters of the new constitution to ensure they are reflected.

BOTSWANA: Not All Women in Local Government Making a Difference

Florence Shagwa, a female councillor at the Gaborone City Council, considers her three-year business qualification worthless.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Ignoring Patriarchy, Female Politicians Rise

In Malawi, if both a girl and boy are born into a poor family, it will naturally be the boy in whom all the financial resources are invested.

Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, the IFP mayor of Jozini, says gender is not a limiting factor when it comes to leadership. Credit: Marshall Patsanza/IPS

Q&A: “Gender Not a Limiting Factor in Politics”

In the rural KwaZulu Natal town of Jozini, Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa has been the town’s mayor for a decade. And in contrast to the rest of the country, which has experienced numerous civil strikes and service delivery complaints, Jozini has rarely had any such problems.

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