Women to get equal shot in Senegal elections

Senegal will vote for new lawmakers in an election Sunday set to put more women than ever in the national assembly thanks to a new law which requires an equal gender balance on party lists.

The polls come three months after Macky Sall won presidential elections, evicting ex-president Abdoulaye Wade after 12 years in office, and the new leader needs a majority to put his new policies into action.

In 2010 a law pushed by Wade was adopted requiring strict gender parity in all elected offices and this is the first legislative election in which it comes into play.

Women's organisations have praised the move as modern, while others in the majority Muslim, male-dominated nation have rejected it as unfair and undemocratic.

Parties and coalitions have submitted 24 lists for Sunday's election which will renew 150 seats in the assembly for five years. More than 7,000 candidates are in the running, half of whom should be women.

Gender parity "will bring our country in line with more modern nations and democratic governance," said Fatou Sow Sarr, director of a gender institute at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar.

"We cannot speak of democracy if the two essential components of a society, men and women, are not part of the process."

Only 33 of the outgoing lawmakers are women in a country whose population of 12 million is 52 percent female.

Since independence only one woman, Mame Madior Boye, served as prime minister, between March 2001 and November 2002.

The United Nations Development Programme in 2010 warned that women were falling behind as fewer and fewer were being elected to parliaments in Africa. The African Union target is 50 percent.

Rwanda is leading the continent in women's representation, with 56 percent female lawmakers, followed by South Africa at 46 percent.

While Senegal is hoping to advance into these ranks, some critics, such as religious leader and lawmaker Mbaye Niang, said the law is "unfair and undemocratic."

"Women are being chosen because they are women and not by merit. All the parties have had trouble drawing up their lists. There are not a lot of educated women on the ground."

In the national assembly, 60 members are elected through proportional representation and the other 90 from constituency lists by majority vote.

Some 5.3 million people have registered to vote in the election after a three-week campaign which went off without major incident, compared to the presidential election which was tarnished by deadly riots during campaigning.

The violence was sparked by 86-year-old Wade's insistence on seeking a third term in office. However, he was trounced at the ballot box as voters handed the much-younger Sall, 50, a resounding victory.

But now Sall needs seats in parliament to carry out his programmes.

"A president without a majority cannot govern and we would find ourselves at an impasse," he said recently, calling for voters to back the "Benno bokk Yaakkar" ('United for the same hope' in the Wolof language) coalition.

Among his main competitors are Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), which is back in the opposition, and a coalition formed by a group of PDS dissidents called "Bokk gis gis" (Common Vision).

The opposition have called for Sall to be "forced into cohabitation" in parliament.

"If the president does not have a parliamentary majority, the opposition will name a prime minister and form a government. For him to govern comfortably, he needs this majority," said lawyer Ismaila Madior Fall.

The last legislative polls were boycotted by the opposition who demanded electoral reforms, and is thus dominated by the PDS, despite many defections since Wade's loss.

The polls come as Sall's government has launched an audit into the management of the former regime which has seen top officials hauled in for questioning.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Thai, Philippine indexes weak after trade data

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose in line with the rest of Asia on Tuesday but the Thai index pared early gains after weak trade data in April, while the Philippine benchmark ... …

  • Is your home on top of a faultline?
    Is your home on top of a faultline?

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanoly and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently issued an updated and high-resolution "atlas" of the East Valley Fault and West Valley Fault, two major faultlines that run through sections of Metro Manila. Metro Manila may be due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake within this lifetime, say experts from the institute, among them PHIVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. According to records, the last major earthquake caused by the West Valley Fault took place 357 years …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options