Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-2-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Lisa Leitz


After two major continental conflicts, many African countries were forced to re-evaluate their constitutions and inherent political structures. This left a window of opportunity for greater female political participation as political leaders and members of the peacemaking process. This project will focus on selected African post-conflict states during the 1970’s to 2000’s that have re-written their constitutions. The general query asks whether those rewritten constitutions have contributed to greater gender equality in the legislature of those states and which constitutional provisions work best at promoting and maintaining gender equality. By studying Geisler’s book Women and the remaking of politics in Southern Africa and Schnabel and Tabyshalieva’s book Defying Victimhood to understand legitimacy of gender as a characteristic in constitutional drafting and how gender permeates in nations’ customary law prior to constitutional change. Through this, it can be pinpointed how the new constitutions and provisions for gender have impacted gender equality in the legislature. The research will be conducted using mixed-methodology. The quantitative aspect of the analysis will relate to gender equality using percentages before and after constitutional changes and test the effectiveness of certain constitutional ‘safeguards’ to improve equality. Qualitative research will be conducted about a multitude of factors relevant to constitutional ratification. They include cultural factors, legislative history, and the history of gender equality of a nation both prior to and after conflict outside official bodies or institutions. The expected results are that constitutional safeguards especially quotas are effective in maintaining gender equality in legislature. Active civil women’s organizations and the continual dedication of political parties and figures also aid in ensuring gender equality by acting as a safeguard mechanism.


Presented at the virtual Fall 2020 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.