Working Paper

IDS Working Paper 573

Women’s Leadership and Political Agency in Fragile Polities

Published on 28 June 2022

This paper draws on evidence from the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) research programme to show how women express their political agency and activism and seek accountability in repressive contexts.

A4EA research looked at cases of women-led protest in Egypt, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Pakistan, and explored women’s political participation in Nigeria and Pakistan. The research shows that despite some success in claim-making on specific issues, ‘sticky norms’ and male gatekeeping prevail and govern women’s access to public space and mediate their voice in these contexts. The paper concludes by calling on donors to go beyond blueprints in programming, and to work in agile and creative ways to support women’s rights organising.

Cite this publication

Nazneen, S. (2022) Women’s Leadership and Political Agency in Fragile Polities, IDS Working Paper 573, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2022.046

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Sohela Nazneen

Research Fellow

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Institute of Development Studies


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