Gender Quotas and Representation
On 30 July 2014, the Malian government passed a bill instituting new measures aiming at promoting equal access of women and men to elective and nominative offices. Until that date, there were no legally established electoral quotas for any social group in Mali. In 2006, the National Assembly rejected a draft law granting 30 percent of seats to women on the grounds that this law would violate the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees “the equality of all citizens regardless of origin, race or religion.” This provision was used by members of the National Assembly to reject the proposed law. However, some civil society organizations and advocates opposed this argument citing that Mali, as well as many other African countries, has ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). They argue that by ratifying CEDAW it establishes a basis on which the principle of positive discrimination can be institutionalized.
Others have argued that the above-mentioned provision of the Constitution allows the executive branch to implement regulations aimed at closing the gap between men and women in the distribution of elected or appointed positions. Yet to accomplish this goal, it would require strong political will from the Government and political parties.
Mali adopted a National Gender Policy (PNG) on November 24, 2010. The PNG seeks to more firmly establish Mali’s efforts to respect its national, international and African commitments which seek to establish rule of law and a democratic society where the equality of men and women is a core value as prescribed within the February 25, 1992 Constitution. The PNG is an opportunity to transform domestic law such that all the regional and international conventions to end all forms of discrimination against women and which have been signed and ratified by Mali are upheld.
Finally, the Political Parties Charter includes a provision that encourages women’s candidacy. Indeed, the Charter states that public funding of political parties shall be funded by the State for an amount equivalent to 0.25% of the country’s fiscal revenues. The annual amount allocated to political parties covers four line items, the fourth represents 10% of the amount allocated which is earmarked for the funding of political parties on the basis of the proportion of elected women in the party. 5% of the amount is for female members of the National Assembly and the other 5% for female municipal counselors. For each party, the number of elected female members in the National Assembly and on municipal councils is determined by the most recent general election. When an early election occurs the results are taken into account and the numbers are adjusted appropriately.
Despite this provision of the Charter, women who represent 50.4% of the population find it extremely difficult to placed high enough on party lists to be elected to office. According to the “2009 Statistical Bulletin” of the National Center for Information and Documentation of Women and Child Affairs (CNDIFE), there were only 15 women out of the 147 members of the National Assembly. There were only 8 women out of the 703 mayors, and only 927 women out of the 10,774 elected municipal counselors. Finally, only two out of the fourteen counselors which make up the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali are women. These observations make it abundantly clear that women are underrepresented in political positions.
In this context, a bill to be examined by the National Assembly was proposed, aiming at promoting gender equality through access to elective and nominative positions. This bill seeks to take into account the aspirations of women’s associations and NGOs who fight for gender parity in access to public offices and elected positions. The bill contains articles that represent a significant advance in the defense and promotion of women’s rights. Article 1 of the bill states that “on the occasion of appointments to the institutions of the Republic or in the various categories of public services in Mali by decree, order or decision, the proportion of people of one or the other sex should not be less than 30%”. Article 2 goes further to state that “on the occasion of the election of deputies to the National Assembly, members of the High council of territorial authorities or local authorities counselors, no list of at least three people presented by a political party, a group of political parties or group of independent candidates, shall be admissible if it has more than 60% of women or men.”
Useful links and documentary resources
- Official website of the Coordination des associations et ONG féminines du Mali (CAFO) : http://www.renapessmali.org/content/coordination-des-associations-et-ong-f%C3%A9minines-du-mali
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