Photo: DFID

Our academic interest in symbolic representation follows the global attention towards achieving gender parity in elected offices the last two decades. Since the United Nation Millennium Campaign was launched in 2002, with a specific goal on gender equality and political empowerment of women, the world average of women in National Assemblies has increased from 14.3 per cent to 22.1 per cent in 2015. A special focus is given Africa as the number of female parliamentarians in African legislative assemblies has more than doubled since the Beijing Platform for Action from 1995 which called upon governments to "take positive action to build a critical mass of women leaders, executives and managers in strategic decision-making positions". The central question in this project is whether an increase in women parliamentarians (descriptive representation) change patriarchal attitudes and make public perceptions more favourable towards women in politics (symbolic representation).