In This Review

Women and Power in Postconflict Africa
Women and Power in Postconflict Africa
By Aili Mari Tripp
Cambridge University Press, 2015, 300 pp

The country with the world’s largest proportion of female legislators is Rwanda, where, following national elections in 2013, 64 percent of the seats in Parliament were held by women. In this regard, Rwanda—which barely more than two decades ago was mired in a genocidal civil war—is exceptional but not quite an exception in sub-Saharan Africa. As Tripp’s book convincingly demonstrates, countries in the region that have suffered civil wars have empowered women to a significantly greater extent than countries that have not. Based on data-rich case studies of Angola, Liberia, and Uganda, Tripp argues that since the 1990s, protracted periods of civil conflict have led to changes in the nature of gender relations. Peace agreements have contained measures, including constitutional reforms, that have mandated greater gender equality. Tripp argues that the main factors behind such steps are domestic in nature but also acknowledges the influence of the international institutions and foreign donors that have more systematically supported gender equality in the last quarter century. This is an optimistic but not misty-eyed book, and Tripp concedes that much work remains to be done in securing rights and opportunities for African women.