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Democracy and the Rise of Women's Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa

, 184 pages

1 map

July 2008



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Democracy and the Rise of Women's Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa

Despite a late and fitful start, democracy in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe has recently shown promising growth. Kathleen M. Fallon discusses the role of women and women's advocacy groups in furthering the democratic transformation of formerly autocratic states.

Using Ghana as a case study, Fallon examines the specific processes women are using to bring about political change. She assesses information gathered from interviews and surveys conducted in Ghana and assays the existing literature to provide a focused look at how women have become involved in the democratization of sub-Saharan nations. The narrative traces the history of democratic institutions in the region—from the imposition of male-dominated mechanisms by western states to latter-day reforms that reflect the active resurgence of women’s political power within many African cultures—to show how women have made significant recent political gains in Ghana and other emerging democracies.

Fallon attributes these advances to a combination of forces, including the decline of the authoritarian state and its attendant state-run women's organizations, newly formed constitutions, and newfound access to good-governance funding. She draws the study into the larger debate over gendered networks and democratic reform by exploring how gender roles affect and are affected by the state in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

In demonstrating how women’s activism is evolving with and shaping democratization across the region, Democracy and the Rise of Women’s Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa reveals how women’s social movements are challenging the barriers created by colonization and dictatorships in Africa and beyond.

Kathleen M. Fallon is an associate professor of sociology at McGill University.

"A groundbreaking chronicle... Highly recommended for both public and college library collections."

"Fallon’s work presents an insightful distillation of a large and important set of events and issues. I am impressed with the stages she proposes as critical turning points in the evolution of the women’s movement in Sub-Saharan Africa and specific evidence she provides to describe those periods and their transitions."

"All scholars of social movements and comparative politics, and in particular by specialists in African studies and gender and politics, should read Fallon’s book. It is a model of the power of a well-grounded case study that pushes scholarship toward broader implications."

"Fallon makes an important contribution to understanding democratization and the experiences of sub-Saharan African women’s movements. This work will undoubtedly spur discussion among scholars of women and democratization, and future comparative studies of women’s mobilization in sub-Saharan Africa will build on this solid foundation."

" Democracy and the Rise of Women’s Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa deepens our understanding of the African women’s activism that coincided with democratization across the continent in the 1990s and 2000s."

"An important contribution to the literature [that] should be included in college and university libraries."

"A well written, important contribution to the growing literature on women, gender, and democracy, as well as to African studies."

"An engaging and thought-provoking read and a welcome contribution to our thinking about women's emerging political roles and opportunities."

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