Abstract: Electoral authoritarian regimes have sought to use a variety of tactics to remain in power even as they have opened themselves up to competition through multiparty elections. These tactics have included an array of measures targeting opposition women. They became significant in Africa after the 1990s as most countries adopted multiparty systems and ruling parties needed to maintain vote share. Ruling parties in African authoritarian countries strengthened their patronage networks by promoting women as leaders. At the same time, women in opposition parties have fared poorly compared to women in ruling parties and male opposition candidates. This has been the case even where one finds the special dispensation of a gender quota in the form of reserved seats. This article looks at how Uganda’s ruling party has used various tactics to advance women leaders, responding to pressures from both the women’s movement and international actors while seeking to ensure its continued dominance. It reveals an essential feature of authoritarianism in Africa today, namely the instrumental use of women leaders to entrench the ruling party in power.
Keywords: authoritarianism; autocracy; parties; quotas; Uganda; women opposition leaders