Elections 2015: can we speak of a race already lost?

By Eliane POLEPOLE, journalist of Femme au Fone

October 16, 2015 21:20

Out of the 1.141 candidates included in the course of the provincial elections in South Kivu, we only counted 133 women, 11, 65 % of the total. The Independent National Election Commission (CENI) has made this figure public after the end of the candidates' selection process for the provincial elections. As a consequence, the question of compromise with gender representation assumed by Congolese leaders arises.

Claimed for long and never carried out

After the approval and promulgation of the 2006 Constitution, which advocates for women's participation in article 14, the parity respect envisaged in this article remains a challenge for the Congolese leaders. The fact that the Electoral Bill passed in February 2014 does not require the implementation of parity is a proof of this! "Each list is supposed to be set up considering the equitable representation of men and women and the promotion of people living with disabilities. However, not achieving the gender parity and the lack of representation of people with disabilities does not constitute a basis to reject the list concerned", states article 13 of this Electoral law in the third paragraph.

An opportunity to dismiss women

The electoral law has not favoured the gender parity at elections; in fact, political parties have made use of it to discard women. In an analysis undertaken by the Observatory on Gender Parity (l'Observatoire de la Parité) in July 2015, out of 147 political parties of the South Kivu province, only 56 have submitted electoral lists. There is an average of two women in each list.

The [February 2014] electoral law is a real distraction on the way to achieving parity. For instance, if we said that "not achieving the gender parity and the lack of representation of people with disabilities, is basis to reject the list concerned", the political parties' leaders would be committed to include women in the electoral lists. However, since this is not the case, the parties have still ruled out female names, and yet they are actively involved in the political parties", explains, apparently upset, Aimé Jules Murhula, secretary of the Congolese Party for the Progress (Parti Congolais pour le Progrès, PCP). This party has included two women in its electoral lists.

According to CENI, throughout the country, 23.518 candidates have submitted their candidatures, 1.988 of them are women, totalling 11, 4 %. "What are the Congolese leaders waiting for to implement the gender parity and to boost women's access to political positions?" Query women rights campaigners.

Mobilised: women ready to undertake those candidatures that have been accepted

In spite of the scarce number of women finally incorporated in the electoral lists, international and national women's rights are mobilising support to encourage men, women and young to vote for those female candidates that remain at the electoral lists. The campaign called «Nothing without women» (Rien sans les Femmes) has supported the vote of the gender parity law. It is time to support those women that remain at the electoral lists.