Abdulgader Bashir

Women's participation and representation

Assisting Regional Universities in Sudan (ARUS)

Liv Tønnessen

Matthew K. Gichohi

This online resource, which focuses on gender equality and women's political representation, is developed for the Assisting Regional Universities in Sudan (ARUS) programme. More than providing an overview of the key terms and concepts , the resource looks at why women remain under-represented in politics and what can be done to remedy the situation. By drawing on recent cross national research, the resource provides valuable and relevant information for Sudan as it ramps up efforts to increase women's political participation and representation. 

Political Participation 

Political participation as a human right was enshrined in both the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Women's political participation was later integrated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1979. CEDAW called for states to take  steps to eliminate discrimination against women in both the political spheres by ensuring women and men have equal rights to vote and to be eligible to vote and to be eligible to held public office, to participate in the policy formulation and implementation, and to participate in non-governmental organizations. 

Women's political inclusion is a social, economic, and political good in itself. It matters for democracy and gender equality. Democratic processes require the participation of all citizens. Including women in politics increases the  consideration of their needs and their interest in policy-making. Increasing  the number of women in the parliament, curbs corruption, improves policy outcomes, and promotes the inclusiveness of minority groups in public spheres. 

Some of the key questions that the resource will address are: 

  1. Why are women underrepresented in politics?
  2. What are potential solutions to the problem of women's under-representation?


The online resource consists of four short modules that discuss women's representation in general and in the context of Sudan.

Part 1 discusses women's participation and representation in autocratic settings

Part 2 examines the reasons for women's underrepresentation in politics 

Part 3 provides an overview of the concept of representation 

Part 4 discusses how electoral rules affect women's representation

Part 5 offers a brief discussion of how quotas and gender targeted political financing can help increase women's representation