Africa’s parliaments are increasingly gender equal, but there is a curious heterogeneity (Figures 1 and 2). Southern and Eastern African legislatures have near parity, while West Africans are ruled by men. Nigeria’s parliament is 94 percent male. Common explanations—tradition, colonizers’ male bias, contemporary sexism, and civil war—all fail to explain why West Africa is such an outlier. Women’s movements face insurmountable obstacles in West Africa owing to ethno–religious fragmentation, which was exacerbated by the transatlantic slave trade.