Carole Ammann, MA
Carole Ammann is currently a PhD-Candidate at the University of Basel Institute of Anthropology. The working title of her PhD project is „Women and the Imaginary of the State in Guinea“. Ammann has a BA degree in History and Political Science from the University of Bern and graduated in 2010 with a Master in African Studies. From August 2010 to January 2011 she taught the tutorial on “History in Africa During the 20th Century” at the University of Basel Institute of History.
There Is a Lot of Work to Be Done. Women and Politics in Benin. A Case Study
Compared to other (West-)African countries, Benin is very stable. The path to democratisation has been followed since 1990. The country holds fair and free elections on national as well as on regional and local level. Nevertheless, there are different factors undermining the Beninese democracy. First, its population is divided among regional, religious and ethnic lines. Second, there is a lack of democratic processes within the parties. The latter don’t have political programs. Furthermore, women are strongly underrepresented at all political levels.
The paper examines the access, presence and accountability of women within civil society, political competition, state and administration. Results show that the number of women in decision-making positions has risen slowly but steadily since the 1990s. Regarding legislation, men and women have equal rights. Benin has signed various important treaties, which foster equality between the sexes on a social, political and economic level. All the same, many aspects of the legislation are – in every day life – barely implemented.
Within civil society, there exist numerous organisations that lobby for gender requests. On the one hand, these organisations have had remarkable success over the last twenty years. On the other hand the different women organisations all compete for financial resources and advertence – a fact that doesn’t promote coordination and collaboration among them. In terms of political parties the study shows that women play an important role regarding organisation and electorate recruitment. However, women very rarely occupy important decision-making positions within political parties. For parliamentary elections women are seldom put at promising positions on the electoral lists. Exceptions are made if women dispose of enough financial means, if they come from important families or if they are already well known within the community. The media also plays an important, yet ambivalent role. On the one hand they help discussing and promoting gender-equality requests, on the other hand, the media often drag female politicians through the mud. The thesis concludes that not only the organisation of the political system, but also socio-cultural constrains hinder women to play a more important role within politics in Benin today.