Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A world first

Rwanda went to the polls last week in Parliamentary elections, and in addition to re-electing their governing coalition, they also scored a world first by electing the first ever female-majority Parliament:

Rwanda will be the first country where women will outnumber men in parliament, preliminary election results show.

Women have taken 44 out of 80 seats so far and the number could rise if three seats reserved for the disabled and youth representatives go to females.

Partly, this result is due to a quota - 30% of all seats are reserved for women, with the MPs elected indirectly by provincial councils. But it is also due to progressive candidate selection (at least as progressive as we have in New Zealand), which saw women take 35% of the remaining seats as well. As a result, 55% of the new legislature are women (compared to a mere 49% of the old Parliament - for all its problems, Rwanda at least does female representation properly).

Meanwhile, with one of our major parties still barely managing to select a list which is one-quarter female, we clearly have a long way to go.

[Hat tip: Little Miss Brightside].