Women’s leadership and political agency in fragile polities

Think tank: Institute of Development Studies

Author(s): Sohela Nazneen

June 28, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Development Studies looks at how women express their political agency.

This paper draws on evidence from the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme to show how women express their political agency and activism and seek accountability in repressive contexts. A4EA research looked at cases of women-led protest in Egypt, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Pakistan, and explored women’s political participation in Nigeria and Pakistan. The research shows that despite some success in claim-making on specific issues, ‘sticky norms’ and male gatekeeping prevail and govern women’s access to public space and mediate their voice in these contexts. The paper concludes by calling on donors to go beyond blueprints in programming, and to work in agile and creative ways to support women’s rights organising.