By:  Grace Marwa - Pattison and Vivian Nilsson - van Iperen

In 2022, nine African States held and concluded elections (presidential and/or parliamentary): Angola, Congo Rep., Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal and Somalia. Tunisia held the first round of the parliamentary elections in December 2022, and the second in January 2023. As the Tunisian elections concluded in 2023, they will not be included in this analysis. The elections in Chad, Guinea and Libya were also scheduled to be held in 2022 but were postponed.

In many of the nine countries, the 2022 elections resulted in positive gains concerning women’s representation and participation as the share of women elected to national parliaments increased, and there were notable gains in women’s political leadership.  

Elections 2022


Women’s representation and participation in elections, national parliaments and political leadership

The 2022 elections saw some trends with respect to women’s political participation and leadership.

The percentage of women elected:

  • Increased in five countries: Congo Rep. (lower house), Equatorial Guinea (lower house), Kenya (lower house), Lesotho (lower house), and Senegal (single house) in 2022 compared to previous elections.
  • Reached or exceeded 30% in three countries: Senegal (single house), Equatorial Guinea (lower house) and Kenya (upper house).
  • Dropped in 2022 compared to the previous election in two countries: The Gambia (single house) and Somalia (lower house).
  • Remained the same as previous election in two countries: In São Tomé and Príncipe (single house) and Lesotho (upper house).

The sharpest increase in women elected occurred in Equatorial Guinea, where women’s representation in the lower house rose by 55%, from 20% in the previous election to 31% in 2022. In contrast, The Gambia saw the most dramatic decrease (by 50%) in the proportion of female representatives, from 11.32% to 5.66%.

Following the 2022 elections, the share of women in national parliaments increased in six countries (Angola, Congo Rep., Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, and Senegal. While in The Gambia, Somalia and São Tomé and Príncipe, their representation declined. Equatorial Guinea’s Chamber of Deputies (lower house) saw the sharpest increase (41%) in the proportion of women’s representatives from 22% to 31%.

Few women were in leadership positions and as presidential candidates during the 2022 elections. There was a female presidential candidate in Angola and Somalia elections, respectively, while there was none in Equatorial Guinea and Kenya. While there were no female presidential candidates in the Kenyan election, three of the four candidates chose women as running mates; notably, Martha Karua was the first woman to runon a major political party's presidential ticket.

In the parliamentary elections, two women stood out. In Senegal, Aminata Touré was the only female head of a party list. In São Tomé and Príncipe, Elsa Garrido Graça do Espírito Santo, the Social Democratic Movement/ Green Party STP.

The Role of Quotas in women’s political participation and representation

All of the nine countries, except for The Gambia, use a form of quota or a combination of quotas.

In the majority of countries under review, it does not appear that the quotas have a significant effect on increasing women’s representation in the electoral process and national parliaments. After the 2022 election, Kenyan women represent 23.40% of the seats in the National Assembly and 31.80% in the Senate and have yet toimplement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.” ((Article 27(8), Constitution of Kenya.) In both houses of parliament, Kenyan women comprise less than one-third of the members. In Somalia, the Garowe Principles I (2011) and Garowe Principles II (2012) provide for 30% reserved seats for women in the lower house of parliament, the House of the People. Following the 2022 elections, Somali women make up 19.70% of the House of the People, thus falling short of the quota set.

The Collectif des féministes du Sénégal noted continuing challenges in both the 2014 and 2022 elections in ensuring the full realisation of the Senegalese Law on Gender Parity; it was found that not all ballots complied with the Law.

There is a notable exception – Angola. After the 2022 elections, women represent 33.60% of the seats in the National Assembly, thus surpassing the minimum of 30% gender representation in all directive bodies as established in Law 20/10. The increase in women’s representation in the parliament of Angola is credited to the feminisation of the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the introduction of a legislated quota by the MPLA in 2010. In addition, the MPLA also uses a voluntary party quota of 40% women in organisation and management positions.

MEWC has yet to verify if the legislated candidate and voluntary party quotas were fulfilled in the countries using these mechanisms.

Gains in Women’s Political Leadership and political representation in 2022

In many of the nine countries, notable firsts and advances regarding women’s leadership and political representation are worth highlighting and celebrating.


  • Professor Esperança Maria Eduardo Francisco da Costa became the country’s first female Vice President.
  • Carolina Cerqueira was elected President of the National Assembly, the first woman to hold this position in the country’s history.

Equatorial Guinea:

  • After her appointment, Manuela Roka Botey became the country’s first female Prime Minister.

The Gambia:

  • The Honourable Fatou Cham became a National Assembly member for the Sanimentereng Constituency. She advocates for gender equality in the nomination and selection of members of parliament, increased leadership opportunities for female MPs in National Assembly committees and women’s representation in parliament. 


  • The country set a new record in the number of women elected into various seats and observed the highest level of women’s representation in the National Assembly’s history.


  • Nthomeng Majara became the country’s first female Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
  • Tsepang Tsita-Mosena was appointed as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
  • Momonaheng Mokitimi, President of the Senate, was re-elected for a second term.


  • Sadia Yasin Haji Samatar became the country’s first female Deputy Speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Proportion of women in national parliaments in Africa

Conclusion and looking a head

The review of the nine elections completed in 2022 shows some positive trends regarding women’s political participation and representation. In more than half of the countries, the share of women elected to national parliaments increased, particularly the percentage of female representatives elected to the lower or single house. In Senegal (single house), Equatorial Guinea (lower house) and Kenya (upper house) reached or surpassed 30%. In contrast, the number of women elected declined in Somalia (lower house), The Gambia (single house) and Angola (single house).

As of January 1 2023, of the nine countries where elections were held and concluded in 2022, women’s representation in national parliaments increased in six. Of those, Senegal places the highest on the Inter- Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) ranking of women in national parliaments. Senegal ranks 14th and 3rd in Africa (after Rwanda (1st) and South Africa (11th).) In contrast, as women’s representation declined in The Gambia, São Tomé and Príncipe and Somalia, the countries dropped in the global ranking of women in national parliaments.

The 2022 elections saw some gains for women in terms of political leadership. For the first time in the respective country's history, women now hold positions such as Vice President (Angola), Prime Minister (Equatorial Guinea) and Deputy Prime Minister (Lesotho). While there were only two female candidates out of the four presidential elections, their candidacies are significant in breaking down barriers and paving the way for future women candidates.

Due to challenges in obtaining data, it was not possible to fully assess the impact of quota in all of the elections held in 2022. However, in Angola, the MPLA’s commitment to adopting the party’s voluntary quota and introducing a legislated quota appears to have positively impacted women’s representation in the National Assembly. In contrastin Senegal, the strong representation of women in parliament is credited with adopting laws strengthening women’s rights, as the Gender Parity Law reportedly is not well enforced.

Three of the elections scheduled to be held in 2022 were postponed. At the time of writing, the next polls in Chad are planned  for 2024. In Guinea, ECOWAS and the current Guinean government led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya agreed to hold elections in early 2025. No date has yet been confirmed for Libya's presidential and parliamentary elections. 

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