Women In Politics (WIP) is the proud winner of the 2015 SADC Gender Protocol Summit and awards in the 50/50 Governance category. This category recognises the special measures taken at local or national level to ensure women’s equal representation and participation in decision-making in all areas, especially in elections in the SADC region. The summit was organised by Gender Links, an NGO renowned for its large footprint in campaigning for the promotion of gender equality through the 28 targets set by the SADC protocol on Gender and Development. Article 13 of the SADC protocol requires member states to adopt specific legislative measures and others strategies to enable women to have equal opportunities with men to participate in all electoral processes. Although Mauritius did not sign the SADC protocol, WIP has made it its mission to encourage more women to participate in all levels of government.

To recall, WIP launched the “WE campaign” in August 2014 to advance the proposition of a minimum of 33% of women candidates for the 2014 general elections. Unlike the village and the municipal council elections where 33% of women candidates are guaranteed through the gender neutral quota, the general election still remains a field for male power. In fact, the outcome of the 2014 general election was alarming for women representation – we have seen a decrease in the representation of women in parliament from 18% to a mere 11%. Conversely, for the 2015 municipal council election, WIP focused mostly in encouraging the population especially the younger generation to accomplish the civic duty of voting to counteract the high level of absenteeism and to persuade the voters not to discriminate against women candidates.

The 50/50 governance award is a recognition that the mission of WIP is a just and valid cause. It is an applause that the cause of gender equality is legitimate and gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessity for the foundation of a sustainable and equitable society. Gender equality starts at home, extends to the workplace and to every interaction we have with another human being. If every person makes gender equality a personal goal, the cause would not seem so unreachable.

By Nushrat Gunnoo
WIP Champion
24 June 2015