Historically, customs and traditional laws in Africa hindered women's access to education and development, while promoting, to a varying degree, a culture of male dominance across the continent. However, there is now growing recognition of the crucial role women play in overcoming the social, economic and political challenges faced by the continent. Policy changes for this purpose are now being widely advocated, although there is significant scope to progress women's rights and participation. The democratization process has brought a timid but significant increase in the participation of women in politics across Africa. Women make up an average of 21.5% of representatives in national parliaments.