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Rwanda headed to the polls to vote in parliamentary elections on 16th September 2013. 5,953,531 Rwandans are said to have registered to take part in voting for Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies, the Lower House of Parliament.[i] Rwanda has a Bicameral Parliament.[ii]

Of the 80 seats up for grabs, 53 are directly elected and 24 are reserved for women, the youth and handicapped-who are indirectly appointed by the local and national councils.[iii] The elections of women members of parliament and those representing youth and the disabled are scheduled for September 17 and 18 respectively.[iv]

 

The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), President Kagame’s party is expected to return the majority of its members to the Lower House of Parliament. The party currently holds 42 of the 53 directly elected seats in the outgoing parliament from the last elections of 2008.[v] The parties vying in the elections include the Liberty Party, Social Democratic Party, Party for Progress and Accord, the Centrist Democratic Party and the RPF. In the ongoing elections the RPF is heading a coalition of four small parties.[vi]

Voting is reported to have been calm with the exception of the explosions of 2 grenades in the Capital Kigali[vii].

Rwanda has recovered tremendously since the 1994 genocide. It has enjoyed robust economic growth and this is partly due to the zero tolerance for corruption under President Kagame and the RPF government. It is considered as one of the least corrupt countries in Africa and according to the World Bank Index for doing business in 2013 it was ranked as 52nd out of 185 countries and 3rd best in sub-saharan Africa after Mauritius and South Africa. Despite all this growth, critics say that economic growth and security have come at the expense of freedom of expression and political repression, sentiments vehemently denied by President Kagame.[viii]

 

Women’s Political Participation

Rwanda is seen as model when it comes to women political participation. Currently, Rwanda has the most women in parliament in the world at more than 56.3%.[ix] This has been achieved with the help of quotas and government will to achieve gender parity at all levels and promote women empowerment.

Of the current parliament women number 45/80 (56.25%) and both the President-Rose Mukantabana and the Secretary General-Immaculee Mukarurangwa of the Chamber of Deputies are women.[x] The members are elected every 5 years.

Also, female representation stands at 37.36% in the Cabinet and at 41.1% in the Judiciary.[xi]

 

Women Political Representation Statistics[xii]

Women Political Representation

As of 2008

As of 2011

As of 2013

Female Members of Parliament( Chamber of Deputies)

45/80 (56.25%)

N/A

N/A

Female Members of Parliament( Senate)

N/A

10/26 (38.46%)[xiii]

N/A

 

Conclusion:

Rwanda’s political will to invest in women political participation has ensured that not only is it a model for other countries in the world with the highest female members of parliament at 56.3%, but as one of Africa’s growing economy. In that regard the government is keen to show off the elections as a badge of national unity and democratic health.[xiv]

The RPF party is expected to win a landslide in these elections and the National Election Commission( NEC) says that so far the RPF has 76% of the vote with only three quarters of the ballots counted.[xv]



[xi] Journey to Equality:10 Years of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2013, p.103

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