Rwanda: Women Represent 60% of Parliamentary Candidates

Photo: New Times
National Electoral Commission officials conduct voter registration.

Women are, again, likely to occupy the majority of seats in Parliament, based on the number of candidates who have expressed interest in competing in next month's elections.

According to figures from the National Electoral Commission (NEC), women represent 61 per cent of the total number of candidates on the electoral body's provisional list. Of the 537 aspiring candidates 326 are women.

This, according to Prof Kalisa Mbanda, NEC chairperson, shows that Rwandans have embraced gender balance and that women are as able as their male counterparts.

"It is good news that more women are vying for such high positions," he said yesterday.

Women account for 64 seats in the current Lower House. It is a constitutional requirement to have at least 30 per cent of women in administrative positions.

However, among the five independent candidates, none of them is a female.

Besides general seats in parliament that women compete with their male counterparts, there are 24 exclusive women seats which are decided in indirect election.

A total of 179 women have submitted their candidature to compete for the 24 seats they are reserved for to represent women.

Three provinces, Eastern, Sothern and Western, have six women representatives while the Northern Province has four women representatives followed by the City of Kigali with two women, according to NEC.

According to Jeanne d'Arc Kanakuze, the Chairperson of Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for women's seats, there is hope that more women today understand that they can compete for various leadership positions.

She said her organisation has embarked on various projects to encourage more women to take up interest in leadership positions, including positions that are voted for and hopes that more women will now vie for seats in parliament.

"We have programmes to encourage women to participate as candidates and we encourage them to do so, besides we train them, we have projects that aim at encouraging women to get involved in the electoral process," she said in a recent interview with The New Times

Currently they are working on the project dubbed 'Women Can Do' through which they have been encouraging women to get involved in elections not only as voters but also as candidates.

Parliamentary polls are slated for September 2 and 3.

The Lower House has 80 seats and all are up for grabs.

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