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Togo is holding Presidential Elections on April 25, 2015 after a brief delay due to concerns over the voter list.

The five candidates for the Presidential Elections of 2015 are; Faure Gnassingbé (ruling president), Jean-Pierre Fabre (opposition leader), Kofi Yamgane, Gerry Taama, and Alberto Olympio. Once again, however, Brigitte Adjamagb-Johnson is an active member in Togolese politics. Adjamagb-Johnson is the head of the CAP 2015 alliance of parties who are backing opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre. Adjamagho-Johnson is a founding member of Groupe de réflexion et d’action, Femme, Démocratie et Développement (GF2D). There are no female presidential candidates in these elections.

                    

                   The  last presidential elections were in 2010 and resulted in the reelection of the incumbent, Faure Gnassingbé, with more than 60 percent of the vote amid numerous irregularities, including vote buying and partisanship within the electoral commission, according to Freedom House. While opposition parties are free to operate, the structure of the electoral system, including districting as well as the single round of elections, help ensure that President Gnassingbé and his party remain in power. President Gnassingbé’s family has ruled the country for nearly 50 years, and the likelihood that the opposition will gain power remains slim. Notwithstanding the negotiations that enabled the legislative elections to take place, a number of controversial electoral reforms—including electoral district allocations and presidential term limits—remain unresolved in Togo.

Electoral System

Togo is a Presidential Republic under transition to multiparty democratic rule. In this political system, the President is both head of state and head of the government. Executive power is held by the government, while legislative power is held in both the government and parliament. After independence in 1960 and when organized political activity resumed in 1969, the country had been ruled by one party; the Togolese People's Rally (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais—RPT). The legalization of opposition parties in 1991 brought dozens of political parties out of exile and into the spotlight.

                            

The electoral law in Togo was amended in 2013, requiring that candidate lists include equal numbers of men and women. The lists of candidates must contain equal numbers of men and women (Article 220 (5) of the Electoral Code as amended by Law 2013-004). This provision will be applied from the next legislative election onwards. The 2013 Law on Political Party and Electoral Campaign Funding provides that 20 percent of the public funding allocated to political parties be distributed in proportion to the number of women elected in the previous legislative elections, and that 10 percent of the public funding be distributed in proportion to the number of women elected from each political party in the previous local elections.

Women’s Political Participation

While there are women within the political parties of Togo, and the amended Electoral law of 2013 requires for candidate lists with equal numbers of women and men, there are no female candidates in the Togo Presidential Elections of 2015. Currently, women hold 14/91 seats in the house of Parliament. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Togo is number 78 in World Classification with 17.6% of women represented in their parliament’s single house. Women, though having attained legal equality, remain unequal in the political sphere, according to Crossroads International. Though there is a ministry allocated to women's and family affairs, called the Ministry of Feminine Promotion and Social Protection, the gender budgeting does not allow for progressive capacity building and training to empower the female Togolese demographic. As is often encountered, participation in the political sphere is limited to the elite. Independent women's groups and related NGOs campaign actively to inform women of their rights. Women’s groups have become stronger and more organized over the last few years in Togo. Several feminist non-governmental organizations are now working for the promotion of gender equality.

                       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. Sadly, this hs not been reflected in the current elections due to take place since there is no female presidential candidate. However, the last months of president's Faure Gnassingbe's second mandate were marked by several encouraging events by which the Togolese government strengthened support for human rights: one being the appointment of a female Constitutional Court judge and the development of a gender equality policy.

Conclusion

Much needs to be done at all levels to improve the low levels of women’s participation and inclusion in politics in Togo. The government of Togo should emphasize the role of women as decision-makers and as heads of the parties in order for them to hold the Presidency in the short future. In addition, the government of Togo needs to put more efforts in the implementation of laws on the protection and promotion of women. Togo remains behind largely due to socio-cultural, economic, political and legal factors. Furthermore, the socio-cultural and economic obstacles should be combated through various means such as education, capacity-building and strengthening, training, information, provision of financial support, increased access to land and to achieve full inclusion of women in decision-making positions and bodies. The establishment of capacity building programs will be an opportunity to strengthen Togo’s pluralistic democracy and increase the active participation of women in the country’s political process.

Women Political Representation Statistics

Women’s Political Representation

As of 2010

As of 2015

Female candidates for Presidency

1 (14%)

0 (0%)

Female Members of Parliament

9 (9.89%)

16 (17.6%)

 

 

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