Rwandan elections are the next test for Rwandan women

Rwanda is gearing up for its parliamentary elections, scheduled for the 16th September. Rwanda shot to the top of the gender representation leader board at its last election when 56% of seats went to female candidates, far outstripping it’s African contemporaries and most European nations.

Now Rwanda’s population will decide how that percentage will change. These elections will determine the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies for the next five years.

In line with Rwanda’s constitution, 24 of the seats must go to women who stand independently from a party, directly representing women’s interests. These representatives are chosen by women committee members at all levels and district and sector council members.

At the previous election these seats were not the only seats to go to women as female candidates flourished in the political parties as well, gaining 20 seats on top of the allocation ‘women’ seats.

Election observers have begun arriving in the country, and will stay until the 19th when all voting is over to ensure the elections are free and fair.

On the 16th September 5,953,531 eligible Rwandans will vote for the 53 seats that have no specific qualifications. On the 17th women will vote to fulfil their 24 specifically female seats, followed by voting on the 18th by young people and disabled people to fill their respective seats.

Polling stations are expected to be open from 7am to 3pm to allow people to vote and provisional results are expected for the 20th with final results on the 25th.

There are currently 410 candidates standing for the 80 available seats, meaning competition is fierce. This election will be a test as to how committed Rwanda is to raising the status of women in its society and ensuring women get a fair say in their democracy.

I’ll keep you posted when the results are in.

Claire Smith

Claire is a supporter of Women for Rwanda currently staying in Kigali, Rwanda working at a women’s centre.