Looking to Rwanda for Lessons on Gender Equality
The 2003 Rwandan Constitution included a quota providing for 30% reserved seats for women in all decision making bodies. In 2008 women filled the 30% quota and then gained another 26% of the seats in the legislature via the political party ballot, for a total of 56%. The process and quota system is discussed in detail in a 2004 paper for International IDEA by Elizabeth Powley, who was in Rwanda tracking these advances for the Initiative for Inclusive Security. According to Powley, of the 24 women who held the reserved quota seats from 2003 to 2008, only a small number ran for those seats again. Some choose not to continue in politics. Most chose to run on political party ballots in the 2008 election, competing with the men—and many were successful, which is what catapulted the percentage of women to 56%. The reserved seats had served as an incubator for women who might otherwise have been excluded from the process, giving them the experience and confidence to run in the general election.
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