Share of 36 percent in power does justice to Guinea-Bissau women

On 2 August, the Parliament of Guinea-Bissau unanimously adopted a law that aims at ensuring the minimum 36 percent representation of women to be respected in elections or appointments to the National People's Congress and equality between men and women.

4 Sep 2018

Share of 36 percent in power does justice to Guinea-Bissau women

With the approval of this law, Guinea-Bissau became part of the group of more than 80 countries that adopted corrective and temporary measures to advance women's participation in politics and decision-making.

Until moment of writing, the referred Parity Law is being reviewed by Specialized Committees of the Parliament and is expected to be revalidated by the plenary this September. It shall enter into force 60 days after its promulgation by the President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

According to United Nations reports, in countries where quota laws exist, the average representation of women is 25 percent, and in countries where they do not exist, the average is only 19 percent.

Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), quota laws and other corrective measures are temporary and may be discontinued when equal participation of women and men is achieved and maintained.

The Women's Political Platform (PPM), which subscribed to the preliminary draft approved by Parliament, required a quota of at least 40 per cent. But after five days of debate, MEPs chose 36 percent of seats for women on the lists of candidates for public office; which women feel is not enough, although it is already a good start.

The vice president of this platform, Aissatu Camará Ndjai, said: "The passing of this law is a historic victory, because it is the first time we have a law that targets women's inclusion in the sphere of decision-making. And we believe that the law, which is approved, is an added value in the lives of all women, because it will allow women to contribute side by side to the development of the country, "said the activist.

For PRS MP and chairwoman of the Specialized Commission for Women and Children, Martina Moniz, the law now approved does the justice that has long been demanded by Guinean women. "We women in political parties have to do our work within our own party. We must publicize this law until we convince them to accept the 36 percent. It is true that every party has its quota established; but now we have a law of the nation, which automatically surpasses the law we have in the party, "said Ms. Martina Moniz.

Also, PAIGC MP and chairwoman of the Network of Women Parliamentarians, Suzi Barbosa, said that MPs approved 36 percent when the initial requirement was 40 percent. "But I can say that I am satisfied, even though we did not get 40 percent, that would be the historical quota. We have achieved 36 that are above the average in Africa, because the average quota in Africa is 30 percent. It is a step, we can improve later. But the goal is to reach parity, and this opens the way to gradually improving the living conditions of women, "said Suzi Barbosa.

According to UNIOGBIS Gender official, Caterina Viegas, "the United Nations is running a project funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), that aims to work with women and young people: UNIOGBIS, in particular, intends to work with different political parties and with women candidates, in order to enable them in the area of ​​communication and public speaking, so that they can participate in the next legislative elections, "said Caterina Vieigas.

At the same time, Jorge Sambú, from the Quínara region of southern Guinea, opines that "if there is a balance between men and women in the National Assembly, this may contribute, and in what way, to the development of the country. Because only together can we change the fate of this country. We are on the verge of elections and I think that this law should be taken into account at all levels of civil society organizations and political parties, so that women are placed in eligible places, "said Jorge Sambú.