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Women in policy-making in Africa

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submitted on 2023-09-11, 11:41 and posted on 2023-09-13, 11:28 authored by Emmanuel Botlhale

One of the fundamental precepts of democracy is equality and, in this regard, ‘democracy intrinsically requires that persons be treated equally as self-determining agents’ (Post 2005, p. 142). However, according to Post, treating persons in a democracy does not entail the substantive equality often associated with distributive justice and fairness theories. Notably, this chapter takes issue with this sentiment because there is no way governments can treat population sub-groups equally without emphasising distributive justice and fairness because the two lie at the heart of democracy. Thus, this discussion is wedded to the ideal of political equality. Amongst others, political equality ‘holds that political institutions ought to be arranged so that they distribute political standing equally to all citizens’ (Wall 2007, p. 416). Democratic equality is the idea that one requirement of treating persons as equals is that all citizens ought to be treated as equal citizens (Navin 2011). The origins of democratic equality are traced to the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762), the most notable and famous one being On the Social Contract or, Principles of Political Rights, even though the coinage ‘democratic equality’ came at a later stage. Rousseau argued that humans were moral equals – hence advocating for establishing a democratic political order characterised by, amongst others, fairness and equality. Democratic equality leads to notions such as equal citizenship. Equal citizenship is premised on the assumption that all human beings are essentially inherently equal and emerges beyond mere abstraction by reference to what it originally stood against (Rosenfeld 2012, p. 340). Vital to note, equal citizenship was in reaction to feudal hierarchy in the days of yore when the monarch (especially the King) was placed above his subjects. Accordingly, equal citizenship was designed to promote above all two kinds of equality: equality as opposed to (feudal) status and equality in terms of the citizen’s right to self-government (as opposed to the subject’s duty to submit to the will of the monarch) (Rosenfeld 2012, p. 340). Recently, Rawls’ (1971) question of equality (including equal citizenship) was given impetus.

Other Information

Published in: Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa
See chapter on publisher's website:



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This chapter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

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