Women’s quota system not necessary: Veritas

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THE proposed constitutional amendment to extend women’s parliamentary quota system is not necessary because it is not the right way to achieve gender equality, legal watchdog Veritas has said.

The government, through the recently-gazetted Constitutional Amendment Bill, has proposed to extend the women’s quota representation system, which was expected to expire in 2023, by an additional 10 years.
Veritas has, however, slated the proposal to extend the women’s quota representation system which it says has produced parliamentarians who are less effective.

“Most ‘quota’ women are selected through patronage — and are connected to or related to senior party members and tend to follow the interests of powerful men in their parties.

“They generally do not challenge patriarchal attitudes prevalent in their parties and in society at large,” said the legal watchdog.

To compound matters, Veritas added that most women legislators appointed through the quota representation system have generally failed to be effective champions of gender equality.

“Many do not have experience in gender issues or in working for gender justice, hence they may not be effective champions of gender equality.

“Having ‘quotas’ leads to fewer women being elected by direct vote to represent constituencies, reports, in particular from other African Parliaments, indicate that often “quota” women are not treated with respect by fellow parliamentarians.

“Because ‘quota’ women do not represent constituencies, they do not become well known to the electorate and are less effective in taking women constituents’ issues to Parliament. They do not have the same accountability to the electorate,” the watchdog said.

According to Veritas, since the quota system was introduced, the number of women who come to Parliament through elections has been reduced.

“… 2005, after a general election held under the Lancaster House constitution, women constituted 16 per cent of the members of the House of Assembly; in 2008 they constituted 17 percent.

“After the election in 2013, the first held under the present Constitution with its provision for the extra sixty non-constituency party-list women, the percentage jumped to 34 percent.

“On the other hand, the number of women elected in constituencies tells a different story: in 2005 there were 24 such women, in 2008 there were 34, while in 2013 they went down to 26.

“After the 2018 election there are again 26. Anecdotal evidence is that aspiring women candidates were told they would not be nominated for election in constituencies and instead should seek inclusion in their parties’ party lists.

“Hence reserved seats can create an easy avenue for women but may impact negatively on women’s chances of entering Parliament through normal constituency elections.
“Extending the special representation of women for a further 10 years is unlikely to change matters,” it added.

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