At the back of the pack

At the back of the pack


Date: January 1, 1970
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Mauritius has a flourishing economy, political stability and a high level of literacy. But when it comes to women in decision-making, the island has the distinction of being the worse performer among the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mauritius has a flourishing economy, political stability and a high level of literacy. But when it comes to women in decision-making, the island has the distinction of being the worse performer among the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Women comprise only 5.7 percent of the Parliamentarians. There are only two women sitting in a Cabinet of 25. And in the private sector, 98 percent of the 100 best performing companies are headed by men.

Although the government consistently reaffirms its commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), it has little progress to report to the Beijing +10 Review.

One of the major obstacles to women’s participation in governance structures is the electoral system, the First Past the Post (FPP). The government requested South Africa’s Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sach to propose an alternative system.

Sach has recommended a combination of the FPP and the proportional representation (PR) system, but his report on electoral reform is gathering dust in the government’s drawers.

Mauritius will hold general elections later this year, and the two political parties which form the governmental alliance have produced no formula to give more women access to decision-making positions. But ironically, the alliance tells the public that there will be more women standing in the upcoming polls.

The Gender, Media and Elections workshop, organised by Gender Links of South Africa and its Mauritian counterpart, Media Watch Organisation, in February, provided a golden opportunity for all political leaders to walk the talk. Government leaders, however, danced around the issue.

Loga Virahsawmy is the President of Media Watch Organisation in Mauritius.

This article is part of the GEM Opinion and Commentary Service that provides views and perspectives on current events.

janine@genderlinks.org.za for more information. 

 


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