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Female Leadership and Effects from African Droughts

Project description

How droughts impact women’s political leadership

Climate change and its associated weather-related disasters have a profound impact on vulnerable communities across the globe. In African countries, there is a pressing concern that droughts may inadvertently jeopardise the progress of women in political leadership roles. In this context, the ERC-funded Fem-LEAD project aims to unravel the intricate connection between droughts, public opinion and the representation of women in politics. With a unique approach and access to unexplored high-quality data, this project aspires to provide fresh insights, ultimately contributing to the discourse on gender, climate change and the electoral effects of disasters. The findings will shed light on how weather-related disasters are shaping the future of gender and governance on the African continent.


Fem-LEAD challenges present scholarship by proposing a new link between climate change and gender: What if weather-related disasters, such as droughts, risk hurting recent advances of women as political leaders in African countries? Focusing on droughts, public opinion and political representation, its objective is to gain theoretical and empirical insights of links between weather-related disasters and women’s political standing. I pose two major questions; Q1. How and why do droughts affect the citizen demand for female politicians? Q2. How and why do droughts affect the supply of female candidates and the presence of elected women?
I develop and test theoretical expectations in two directions; First, on citizens’ demand for female leaders (Q1). This vein is investigated through three rigorous methods: I analyze observational data where geocoded information on droughts is connected to survey respondents across Africa and over time. Exploring mechanisms, I focus on South African drought-affected communities, using in-depth interviews. To test causal mechanisms, I implement creative survey experiments with information treatments on droughts and candidate preferences. Second, I study the electoral arena (Q2). I focus on droughts and local elections across African countries and especially on South Africa, with a unique complete register of candidates and representatives across wards for two decades. I also interview party gatekeepers and, finally, look at aggregated trends across countries.
I build on my long publication record and local network in the field. Having conducted pilot-studies, the inquiry of Q1 is feasible yet novel. Having access to high-quality data – that no one has analyzed – the study of Q2 promises groundbreaking findings. Fem-LEAD will result in a new theoretical framework and rich empirical insights. By investigating this link, I contribute with a new perspective to the literatures on gender, climate changes and electoral effects of disasters.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 568,00
405 30 Goeteborg

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Södra Sverige Västsverige Västra Götalands län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 568,00

Beneficiaries (1)