Mauritius: Gender and Elections

National election report 2010  |   Training reports

The Republic of Mauritius is doing very badly on women in politics. Women are under-represented in this highest sphere of decision making. The Republic of Mauritius witnessed four General Elections from 2000 to 2015 and the last one was held in December 2014. Percentage of women in the National Assembly increased from 3% in 1991 to 18.8% in the 2010 General Elections. According to the final Mauritius Report 2015 of the MDG, women in parliaments went down to 11.4%. Furthermore there has never been a woman as Leader of any political party in Mauritius. The number of women among parliamentarians was only eight out of a total of 70 (11.4%) in 2014 compared to 13 (18.8%) in 2010. There are only three female Ministers of a total of 23 Ministers.  There are only 26% women councilors.

Despite being one of the oldest democracies in Africa and women representing 52 per cent of the population, women do not have their fair share of the political voice or decision-making in Mauritius. Women hold only 11.4 per cent of seats in parliament and 10 per cent of seats in cabinet. Despite a high-profile campaign for improved women’s representation in parliament, the number of women in parliament decreased in the 2014 General Elections. Political parties ignored the lobby for a gender-neutral approach.

Mauritius uses the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system both at local and national level. Only Rodrigues use a mixed system in their regional assembly elections whereby they elect 12 members FPTP and six others by proportional representation (PR).

In the constituency, or “First Past the Post” (FPTP) system, citizens vote not just for the party, but also for the candidate who represents the party in a geographically defined constituency. Thus, a party can garner a significant percentage of the votes, but still have no representative in parliament, because in this system “the winner takes all.” Very often women are the losers as candidates are chosen on the basis of their ethnicity in Mauritius and men get the advantage over women.

While the percentage of women is at only 11.4% in the Mauritian National Assembly, in Rodrigues women are at 23.8% in the Regional Assembly and the Deputy Chief Commissioner of Rodrigues is a woman and Heads quite a few Commissions.

General elections were held in Mauritius on 10 December 2014. Women’s representation in local government 27% is higher than the parliament of 11% and cabinet of 13%. In the municipal and village elections where the 30% quota for women in local government held sway, women got voted in at the local level in December 2015 in Mauritius; and their representation increased from 12% prior to 27%. Women at the national levels are still at low levels of 12%. Making the point of the cushion provided by affirmative quota electoral systems.

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