Monday, October 6, 2008



Voters queue to cast their ballots for the second parliamentary vote in Rwanda's capital Kigali September 15, 2008. PHOTO/ FILE


Posted Monday, October 6 2008 at 18:29

The country now is the global record setter with majority
MPs being women

KIGALI, Monday

Rwanda’s newly elected Members of Parliament voted in the first ever woman Speaker today, setting a record as the first female-majority parliament in the whole world.

Ms Mukantabama Rose, representative of Kigali city beat Mr Mukama Abbas the only male contesting for the same post with 70 votes to become the leader of Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies.

The ceremony was presided over by President Paul Kagame.

Monday’s swearing in ceremony in Kigali saw 45 women taking oath in the country’s bicameral parliament of 80 Deputies.

After last month’s parliamentary elections, the tiny East African country will after the swearing in ceremony, officially become the first nation in the world to elect a majority of women to its legislative assembly.

Fourteen years after the genocide, Rwanda’s established constitution adopted after a referendum held in 2003 guarantees 30 per cent quota of the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, for women.

In last month’s elections, an unprecedented 20 of the 53 seats went to women after the ruling RPF party headed by President Kagame, endorsed 35 female candidates in an inter-party coalition.

The official opposition parties including the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Liberal Party (PL) also fielded women for the polls.

One of two seats reserved for youth also went to a woman.

This was interpreted by Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to mean that 98 per cent of Rwandan voters opted for a 56 per cent representation of women in parliament making it the largest number of female MPs in a single legislative assembly.

Though on average women constitute only 17.0 per cent of representatives in parliaments across the world, the Rwandan situation was last week hailed by both the African Union (AU) and United Nation (UN) as a milestone in the world of female politics.

Met the quota

The AU secretariat said that Rwanda’s elections made the tiny East African country the first in Africa to meet the 50 per quota as stipulated in the AU’s Protocol to the African Charter on Rights of Women in Africa.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union, which advised Rwandans on how to write a ‘gender-sensitive’ constitution, also reportedly said that, “No other country is doing what Rwanda is doing to bring women into the political process.”

Today, women in Rwanda also account for 36 per cent of President Paul Kagame’s Cabinet, holding the top jobs in the ministries of commerce, agriculture, infrastructure, foreign affairs and information.

This is something that won Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame accolade of the African Gender Award in Dakar, Senegal in 2007.

NEC’s Chairman Prof Chrysologue Karangwa says: “Since 1994 our country is really focusing on gender promotion. So in terms of gender promotion, when you have an increasing number of women, of course you are in a positive way implementing that policy.

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