Gender Links Mauritius and the Gender Equality Foundation launched the “Fam dan Politik- Plis ki enn Kota” campaign on social media, as well as a petition for greater representation of women in politics. Update with Anushka Virahsawmy, director of Gender Links Mauritius.

18.This is the number of female ministers the country has had since the first national elections in 1967 to date. Furthermore, underlines Anushka Virahsawmy, while they represent more than half of the population, the presence of women and their influence in political decision-making remain disproportionately low. This disparity, explains the director of Gender Links Mauritius, not only undermines the principles of equality and justice, but it also deprives our societies of diverse perspectives, innovative solutions and inclusive governance.

Mauritius has certainly made progress in terms of women's emancipation, recognizes Anushka Virahsawmy. However, this is not enough. “We still have several challenges to overcome and perhaps the most important remains the persistent underrepresentation of women in politics and decision-making spheres. »

Although Mauritius has signed and ratified a number of international conventions relating to the importance of women's political rights and their participation in decision-making, “our country fails to implement some of the commitments made”, regrets- She. This has repercussions on women's rights in general, continues the director of Gender Links Mauritius.

This is how Gender Links Mauritius and the Gender Equality Foundation, in collaboration with Mauritian citizens, launched the “Fam dan Politik- Plis ki enn Kota” campaign on social networks. A petition is currently online for greater representation of women in politics. “We are calling for increased participation and representation of women in the political arena, with at least one candidate presented in each constituency in the next legislative elections,” she said.

The solution would be to have more women in politics, then? “We are not suggesting that simply increasing the number of women in legislative elections will automatically solve the multifaceted problems we face. But, we believe that the presence of a minimum critical mass of women can make a huge difference,” she replies.

Gender Links invites those who have not yet signed the petition to do so. “Only if we stand together can we change mentalities and contribute to greater inclusion and diversity, thus consolidating our democracy,” says Anushka Virahsawmy.

She also mentions the “EU/GL Rezone Campaign”, launched a few years ago, for parity. Research is also underway, commissioned by Gender Links in collaboration with the European Union, on improving women's participation in politics. This study, led by Professor Sheila Bunwaree, will be completed in July 2024.

She concedes, however, that transforming the space shaped by patriarchy requires much more than a simple campaign initiated by one or two organizations or individuals. “This explains the petition, the study and our modest request to civil society for synergy to demand the political rights of women. »

How, according to her, can we achieve parity in politics? “I believe that an enabling environment that promotes equality, inclusion and zero tolerance towards discrimination and violence against women in politics is crucial. » She also talks about the implementation of legal frameworks ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women to participate in politics without fear or prejudice.

Anushka Virahsawmy recalls that the theme of International Women’s Day this year was “Investing in Women, Accelerating Progress”. “What better way to invest in women than to create more policy and decision-making space to leverage the talent and skills pool that the country possesses and thus achieve a win-win situation for all. More women legislators will mean more gender-sensitive policies, thus undoubtedly being a tool to accelerate progress,” she believes.

The Rodriguan example

The Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) has 5 women among its 17 deputies. “One of these women is a commissioner and the other is leader of the opposition, which is equivalent to the leader of the opposition in Mauritius. » For the first time, in its 22 years of existence, a woman is leader of the opposition and vice-leader of her political party. “The 2016 amendment to the RRA Act introduced a 30% gender quota. Since then, all parties competing in the elections have registered at least 30% women as candidates,” emphasizes Anushka Virahsawmy.

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