Prokopenko L. Ya. Presidents’ wives: an African way pp.109-123

The development of the institution of the First Ladies in Africa in the 65 years’ period of independence is considered. Among the wives of African heads of State there are many bright individuals, some of them have left a noticeable mark in the history of the continent, not only as the First Ladies but also as prominent political figures. The scope of their social and political activism covers a wide range: from a passive position in the husband’s shadow up to becoming the co-ruler of her State.
The evolution of the First Ladies institution in Africa continued with the beginning of the second wave of democratization in the 1990s. In the context of political liberalization, their role has increased significantly. Within the framework of regional organizations the First Ladies have influenced the settlement of some important issues of the continent, for example, the fight against hunger and AIDS, the development of gender equality in society. Their work is largely determined by the scope of the traditional society in which there is a stable system of kinship, of ethnic and clan ties. In some countries, the First Ladies’ institution is gradually becoming part of the local political culture.
The First Lady function belongs to the informal institutions of the countries of the African continent. Over the years there have been disputes in African society about the formalization of the First Lady’s status, primarily because of its inevitable costs for state budgets.
Today effective activity of a head of State’s wife (participation in election campaign, charity work in various funds, etc.) influences positively the formation of a favorable political image and contributes to its legitimacy. read in PDF>>>