Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics released Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 December 2012 00:00

Deborah Backer, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Guyana speaking at launch. At the head table (r-l )Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director of the National Women’s Commisison; Deborah Lewis, Consultant; Ester Ayuso, Chair of the National Women’s Commisison. Under the Millennium Development Goals to promote gender equality and empowerment of women, Belize should have at least 30 percent women representation in the National Assembly. Sadly, that is a far cry from where Belize currently stands and the Women’s Commission, which has been a lead advocate for the empowerment of women launched a study on Monday, December 10th seeking the answers as to the disparity.

According to Deborah Lewis, who is the lead consultant to a Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize, there must be action taken to increase the percentage of women that are represented at all government bodies in Belize. The comprehensive survey looks at the situation of women participation in electoral politics and ends with recommendations to  Government, political parties and civil society on what needs to be done to reach gender equity.

Lewis says that key to reaching that goal is the implementation of a quota system, which should see more women participation through almost a forced mechanism. Lewis said that worldwide there are 32 countries with more that 30 percent of women in their legislatures; 28 have used some form of quota system to get there. She added that the quota system is the single most effective mechanism to really make a difference in terms of the percentage of women in our governing bodies particularly at the national level.

She added that the majority of persons whom she interviewed in her report suggested that a quota system is that the only way to reach some level of parity is through the quota system. Asked if that system is tantamount to forcing women on an electorate, she replied that the argument can be made that men are forced on the electorate but the reality is that having women more involved in the political process really makes democracy better.

As for how to design the quota system, Lewis stressed that there are many models that exists and experts need to be called in to design which will actually work in this country. In the end, she notes that there is a great need for gender balance and women participation in the political system really makes a great difference.

Guest speaker at the launch on Monday was Deborah Backer, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Guyana. She pointed out that in 2000, Guyana introduced a quota system that now sees 30 percent of the National Parliament represented by women. The process has been implemented in that country since there is not direct election of representatives, rather they use  a system where a list of names are submitted to the electorate and the people vote on an entire block representing a particular political party. Depending on votes attained representatives are then extracted to form the Government and opposition representatives.