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Togo’s long delayed legislative elections, finally took place on 25th July 2013 when the Togolese people went to the polls. Early this year, the opposition threatened to boycott the elections, which had been rescheduled for March 2013 but later pushed again to July.[i]

This rescheduling is part of a negotiated political agreement between the government of President Faure Gnassingbe and a number of opposition groups. Though not a cure for long-standing political friction in Togo, this recent agreement certainly improves the electoral environment and hopefully reduced the risk of electoral violence during the just concluded  July 25 elections.[ii]

These elections will be a test of whether recent signs of discontent might legitimately threaten Gnassingbe's hold on power. Some experts say there may be, for the first time, vulnerabilities in a country that has seen an increasingly daring public outcry against entrenched poverty, high youth unemployment and controversial crackdowns by the security forces.

"The regime is still strong but the president is not as strong as his father," said Lydie Boka, a Togo expert and manager of the France-based risk analysis firm Strategico. "The population is younger, they are interested in information technology and they are following what's going on in the world. It's going to be harder for the regime to win outright."[iii]

[iv] Therefore, it is recommended that regional and international actors closely monitor and keep up the pressure on the government to produce credible results. Besides, meaningful and lasting institutional reforms are not possible in the absence of continued pressure on the government to participate in inclusive dialogue, even after the legislative elections.[v]

The last elections were held in 2007 in which the Rally for the Togolese People won 24 seats, the Union of Forces for Change 27 and the Action Committee for Renewal 4 out of thee 81 seats. President Gnassingbe disbanded and replaced the Rally for the Togolese people with a new party, the Union for the Republic.

 

 Electoral System

Togo has a proportional, closed party-list system for Legislative elections. Each political party submits a list comprising twice as many candidates as there are seats to be filled in the constituency concerned. Seats are allocated according to the quotient obtained by the Highest Average System. There is no threshold to win a seat.  Substitutes elected at the same time as titular members fill any vacancies that arise between general elections.[vi]

The legislature is a one cameral National Assembly consisting before of 81 members. The National Assembly in the 6th plenary session on Wednesday 20 March 2013 adopted two bills one modifying the electoral code and the other fixing the number of members of the assembly as well as the conditions of eligibility. The number has been raised from 81 to 91.[vii] Members of the National Assemble are elected  for 5 year terms from 35 multi-constituencies.   

 

History of Women in Politics in Togo

Women, though having attained legal equality, remain unequal in all walks of life. Women and men are kept apart in most social gatherings. Women usually eat after men but before children. Discrimination against women in employment is common practice and widespread. Women have little place in political life and less in government programs, though there is a ministry allocated to women's and family affairs. Only women descended from ruling tribal families, successful businesswomen, or women politicians enjoy privileges equal to that of men, more won than granted.  
 

While democracy is slowly beginning to take root in the face of Togo’s authoritarian past, women have yet to be meaningfully included in the process. The 2010 presidential election marked a major turn in Togolese women's political participation. For the first time in the country's history a woman was among the seven presidential candidates. Although she didn't win, Brigitte Kafui Adjamagho-Johnson sent a strong signal and sets an example for women and girls throughout Togo.[viii]

 

Number of Women in Parliament

Togo occupies the 106th position in the IPU world classification of the women in Parliament with 9 out of 81 being female parliamentarians.[ix]

 

Female Ministers 

The government of 31 July 2012 contains 32 ministerial positions, six occupied by women. This is less than the one of 28 May 2010 and which resigned on July 11 2012 which contained 32 ministers, seven of whom were women.[x]

 

Number of females vying for parliamentary seats if any!

Women represented just 10 per cent of candidates as of October 2012 despite the wish by several women’s organizations that it should be at least 30 per cent. The position of women on the list is even marginal.

“We’re disappointed due to the number of female candidates in Togo’s Legislative Elections because…we find that women represent 10 per cent on the lists whereas we thought women had a 30 per cent representation. We find then at the bottom of the lists, what will not make the task easier, that is they have a low change of being elected,” Kafui Kowonou, the leader of the Groupe de réflexion et d'action Femmes, démocratie et développement, a women’s association based in Lome-Togo, said to IPS. She accused the party headquarters to have given preference to men.

 For the 2,150 candidates, only 142 were women. The independent electoral commission registered more thatn 395 lists of candidates of which were more than 100 independent lists. The party in power, the RPt, had 22 women out of 162 candidates, the Comité d'Action pour le Renouveau (CAR) had 17 women out of 162, the main opposition party Union des forces de changement (UFC) had 12 women, the Alliance party had 8 women out of 104 candidates, the Pacte Socialiste had 7 out of 130. Visibly, political parties do not place much confidence in women. Since independence, Togo has had 693 parliamentarians with only 29 being women.[xi]
 

Existence of Quota System

According to the Article 23 of the Electoral Law voted on 18/06/2012, the political party lists for the elections of the national assembly, must include at least one-third women candidates.

The issue of a quota for female candidates in the legislative elections had been discussed during the inter-Togolese dialogue in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. It was declared in the accord as a result in August 2006 with the politicians and the civil society that all the parties in the dialogue would work to ensure equitable representation of women in the electoral process and in national political life. Political parties were encouraged to impose a minimum of female candidates during elections. Despite this, the National Assembly has not held debates on the issue of a quota representation for women in elections.[xii]

During his speech to the nation on December 31st 2012 the President of the Republic insisted on gender parity for the Legislative elections.

 

Conclusion

It has been noted that women’s participation and inclusion in politics in Togo still lags behind due to socio-cultural, economic, political and legal factors. Much needs to be done by all the stakeholders to ameliorate this situation. The government needs to put more efforts in the implementation of laws on the protection and promotion of women. Furthermore, parliament needs to put on the table debates on the institution of the quota system for women, not just the inclusion of women at the bottom of lists. Furthermore, the socio-cultural and economic obstacles should be combated through various means such as education, training, information, provision of credit facilities, increase of access to land and the inclusion of women in decision-making positions and bodies. The putting in place of a new parliament following the Legislative elections will be an opportunity not only to reinforce Togo’s democracy but also to increase the active participation of women in the country’s political process.

 

Women Political Participation Statistics[xiii]

Women’s Political Representation

As of 2007

As of 2013

Female Members of Parliament

9(9.89%)

Not yet available

 

 

 

 

 



 

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