From a WaPo column by Aili Mari Tripp:
Rwanda is the most-quoted example, but the phenomenon of women holding a significant proportion of official positions (in legislatures or in the bureaucracy) extends to several other African countries – notably those emerging from conflict.
Across Africa, countries emerging from major conflict were quicker to advance women’s rights and elect women to political office than countries that had remained less conflicted. What is more, post-conflict nations went further in changing their laws and constitutions, offering women more strong legal protections in the areas of land rights, family law, violence and political equality…
How does this happen?
…In Africa, for instance, women were among those most engaged in behind-the-scenes peacemaking, pressuring militia to lay down their arms, demonstrating for peaceful elections and negotiating the release of kidnapped civilians. Further, women gain credibility after these conflicts, since they have been political outsiders, uninvolved with leading the militias and paramilitaries and not responsible for the violence – making a vote for a woman seen as a break with the disastrously violent status quo.
The emergence of women to positions of power is a break away from the established norms. Tripp finds that a long spell of brutal conflict readies a society for radical changes.
And I was wondering about Somalia…
…women made more advances after major civil wars or wars of national liberation than after interstate or proxy wars, or after low-level conflict, local rebellions or coups d’état. For instance, consider the ongoing conflict in Somalia. There is not enough stability for leaders to worry about legislative reform – and so we should not expect much legal change with respect to women’s status during conflict.
Here is Tripp’s book – “Women and power in post-conflict Africa”