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African First Ladies, Politics and the State

Jo-Ansie van Wyk, Chidochashe Nyere, Arina Muresan


Whereas first ladies (i.e. the wives of presidents or prime ministers) of various countries have been studied, first ladies of African states remain under-researched. Due to their proximity to the executive and other decision-makers, first ladies have considerable political influence. In some cases on the African continent, former and incumbent first ladies have expressed political ambitions and involved themselves in the official affairs of the state. A number of first ladies have also been instrumental in entrenching undemocratic rule in African states, thus affecting the fundamentals of state-society relations. The authors, therefore, aim to add to the limited scholarship on first ladies in Africa and their influence on gender and power relations in African states. For this reason, the authors present a first analysis of the data of the African First Ladies Database (AFLD) compiled by the authors. The purpose is to determine and analyse the political role and influence of the wives (and thus first ladies) of some of Africa’s 10 longest-ever serving leaders on the gender, politics, policy and the state in their respective countries.


Africa; Chad; Eritrea; First Lady; Uganda; Zimbabwe

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