Date: 22 September 2008
Kigali — Women contesting in Rwanda’s second parliamentary elections since the 1994 Genocide, held on 15–18 September 2008, have secured 45 out of 80 seats, or 56.25 percent, making the incoming Parliament the first in the world to have women in the majority.
The Constitution of Rwanda provides for a 30-percent minimum quota for women in Parliament, or 24 seats. In the run-up to the election, gender advocates called on parties not only to have equal representation of women and men in their party lists, but also to position women close to the top to ensure the presence of women representatives. The ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front, placed a woman at the head of its list, and of the 42 seats it won, 17 went to women. Of the further 3 seats won by women in the general election, 2 went to the Social Democratic Party, and 1 to the Liberal Party.
An additional 24 women MPs were elected through the indirect electoral process managed by the National Women's Council (CNF) — an organ attached to the Ministry for Gender and Family Promotion. The 114 eligible candidates were fielded from Rwanda’s five provinces, and they were required to develop manifestoes and campaign in their respective provinces to win the allocated seats. In addition, one young woman was elected through the indirect election for youth representatives.
Ahead of the September elections, UNIFEM had partnered with CNF and PROFEMMES, under the One UN Fund framework, to conduct training for the women candidates to strengthen their campaigning skills.
In response to the election results, CNF President Oda Gasinzigwa said: “Our aim is not having 70 percent or 80 percent representation in Parliament, as people may think. ... What we care about is competent women with appropriate capacities — and those who were elected have that capacity.”
The preliminary report of the EU observer mission stated that the elections were generally well prepared and held in a peaceful and calm environment. Chief Observer Michael Cashman congratulated the Government of Rwanda on its achievement in women’s representation in Parliament.
The election results are expected to be announced formally by the National Electoral Commission on 25 September. Approximately 98.5 percent of the 4,769,228 registered voters participated in the elections.
For more information, please contact Ms. Irene Zirimwabagabo, irene.zirimwabagabo[at]unifem.org, +250 590468.