Women majority parliaments: The case of Rwanda
Rwanda, which already enjoyed the highest level of women's representation in parliament in the world at 48.75 %, now has a women’s representation of 55%. In the recent second democratic election held in that country, women won 44 of the 80 parliamentary seats.
While some believe that numbers do count, others question the degree to which higher representation of women in parliament guarantees more gender-sensitive policy agendas. Personally, more than woman’s dominance of parliament, what I find worthier of celebration is the Rwandan society’s acceptance and welcoming of women’s increasing leadership. This is particularly so in contrast to my country, Yemen, where the mere proposal of introducing a 15% quota for women in parliament (in which women currently hold only 2 seats out of 301) has always been met with severe resistance, particularly from religious groups. I realize of course that a comparison of the two countries may be implausible given their different historical, political, and structural realities.
But looking at a case such as Rwanda, what becomes the most important question to address? Should we be discussing nominal versus actual representation of women as reflected in gender-sensitive policy agendas and outputs? Or the extent to which this representation truly reflects society’s perception of women, particularly as leaders? Or perhaps the extent to which this a step towards a very distant but vaguely conceivable matriarchy?