Mauritius: GL and the Alliance call for urgent action on 50/50 ahead of elections

Date: November 13, 2014
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Port Louis, 13 November: With less than a month to go before Mauritius goes to the polls, Gender Links and the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance are calling on all political parties to field an equal number of women and men on party lists. “Democracy means government by the people, for the people – women and men; not government by men, for men,” said CEO Chief Executive Officer Colleen Lowe Morna. “With the spectre of Mauritius performing even worse with regard to women’s representation in parliament than in the past, we call for urgent action to be taken on all fronts.”

The two major political parties – the Labour Party (LP) and the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM)- recently formed an alliance. Each party agreed to field 30 candidates (60) in all constituencies of Mauritius. Women constitute a mere 11 out of the 60 (18%) of candidates on the alliance electoral list: the LP fielded seven women out of their 30 candidates and MMM put forward only four women out of 30 candidates. The other main party- Alliance Lepep is due to release their list this Saturday. Short of a concerted effort to increase the proportion of women candidates and ensure that they win, it appears likely that Mauritius will slide backwards in the 10 December polls.

Women make up 52% of the population in the Republic of Mauritius, yet there are only 19% women in parliament, 24% in local government, and a mere 8% women in cabinet. The upcoming General Elections set for 10 December present a crucial opportunity to reverse this gender gap in government.

The lack of political party participation at the recent Gender Links Symposium on women and governance; the absence of gender mainstreaming in party manifestos; as well as the negligible number of women on the main political alliance list, demonstrates parties’ tenuous commitment to justice, equality and democracy. If the run-up to this election is anything to go by, women’s representation is likely to decrease even further. Shocking, since Mauritian women bear the brunt of all political and socio-economic decisions made at national level, yet they are systematically side-lined from political and developmental decisions.

Mauritius has ratified several important international human rights instruments. It acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in July 1984. Mauritius is a party to the 1995 Platform of Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The SADC Declaration on Gender and Development was signed in 1997, followed by the signing in 1998 of the Addendum to the Declaration on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women. Mauritius has also committed to the decision taken by SADC to increase women’s participation in politics and decision-making by 30%.

Although Mauritius has not signed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the country has never disagreed with the 50% principle and has made very progressive moves toward equal representation in political decision-making. Following the implementation of Local Government Act adopted in 2012, Mauritius saw a fourfold increase of women councillors at the local level from 6.4% to 26% in the December 2012 local elections. White Paper on Electoral Reform borrows from this Act in order to increase the ratio in the gender neutral quota from one third of either sex to half of either sex (50/50).

In their submission, Modernising the Electoral System from a gender perspective, sent to the Prime Minister, Gender Links and the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance argued that Mauritius needs to seize this historic opportunity by 1) opting for the highest proportion of PR seats in any new mixed electoral system and 2) increase the ratio in the gender neutral quota to 50%.

However, since the White Paper only goes to parliament after these elections, Mauritians cannot rely on legislation- they can only rely on parties’ political will and commitment to gender equality. This is the last chance for political parties to set a precedent in Mauritius and in the Southern African region. If parties are to ensure that the existing gender gap does not widen any further, it is imperative that they all revise their list of candidates. “For a country that has led the way on good governance, democracy and accountability, we expect better than what we are seeing,” said Lowe-Morna. “Its time to give real meaning to the slongan:50/50 yes we must. The time is now!”

For more information contact Anushka Virahsawmy– GL Mauritius Country Manager –; or GL Communications Manager Katherine Robinson on



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