April 21, 2022

Congratulations to Saaka Sulemana Saaka

Winner of the 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)-Doctoral!
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Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)-Doctoral recognizes outstanding academic achievement in graduate studies 


Saaka Sulemana Saaka is working under the supervision of Dr. Susan Franceschet. Tell us what makes Saaka’s work stand out? 

Saaka’ work stands out for several reasons. He’s developed a really ambitious data-collection project that will be enormously useful. He’s collecting information about every cabinet formed in Africa for the last 30 years and the profiles of the ministers appointed. With that in hand, he’ll be able to determine which countries are doing better at integrating women into the political elite and what those countries share in common. Finally, his study will go beyond revealing gendered patterns in government. He'll also be able to speak to patterns of coalition-building across region and ethnic groups while also showing how gender fits into those patterns.    


Saaka Headshot

Saaka, your own broad research interests include comparative public policy, social policy, gender policy, and gender and politics, specifically female representation. What inspired you to do your research?  

In hindsight, I will partly attribute it to my upbringing. I grew up in a small traditional town. However, my parents are the type who ensured that our family socialization process eliminated, as many as possible, prejudices about the roles of the boy-child and the girl-child. This translated into a research interest in grad school. Let me add a bit of context here. Before grad school, I did not know about the Gender and Politics subfield mainly because Political Science courses in this area were nearly non-existent during my undergraduate studies at the time. But when I specialized in Public Policy at Brock University I was exposed to discussions about different policy-issues each week in relation to the theory and practice of policymaking. Through those seminars it started occurring to me that the politics surrounding policymaking processes has always produced varied and sometimes “easily ignored” outcomes for men and women, especially in Ghana. That was how my interests in the research areas listed above emerged.

Can you tell us a bit about your specific proposed thesis research?  

In the last 30 years or so the number of women accessing cabinets positions in Africa has increased. However, such gains are not uniform across the region. While similar changes in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia have been studied, we do not know much when it comes to Africa. Therefore, in the context of this ongoing discourse, my project seeks to explore the gendered patterns of cabinet appointments in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main goal is to explain the over-time and cross-national variations in ministerial appointments starting from when several countries in the region transitioned to democratic governance in the early 1990s. The other part of the project is to identify the sorts of impact associated with the gains that women are making in the executives. 

It’s still early days for your thesis research, but what are your next steps in your program? 

Currently, I am a putting together a data set of cabinet appointments from 1990 to the most recent post-election governments, covering individual and country-level variables like credentials, political experience, portfolio type, identity-based factors, size of cabinet, term limit, ideology, and transition condition (i.e., post-authoritarian or post-conflict democracy). Next, I intend to conduct interviews with former ministers, experts, party officials, and advocacy groups in Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, and Liberia. I am hoping that these actors have insider knowledge about how individuals get selected for cabinet positions, and what goes in and out of setting the policy agenda of government. 


Congratulations to Saaka Sulemana Saaka on your 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)-Doctoral! 


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