Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Women’s Studies International Forum 41:2 (November–December 2013), pp. 94–102; doi: 10.1016/j.wsif.2013.03.005 Special issue on “Democratization and gender quotas in Africa”


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Between 2000 and 2012, ten African countries adopted candidate gender quota laws to improve women’s descriptive representation in national legislatures. The effect of these laws on the election of women has varied widely. This article examines the effect of a gender quota law on the election of women as well as the appointment of women to the cabinet in the Republic of Niger to better understand the realities of applying legal gender quotas in Africa. It finds that the effect of the gender quota law on the election and appointment of women hinged on a combination of three factors: the design of the law, the institutional context, and the agency of women’s activists who monitored the quota’s implementation. In a democratizing context, women’s activists used the Constitutional Court and the media to ensure respect for the quota law.