Australia's worst Ex-Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (photo), urges us to learn from more inspiring countries, telling ABC AM today:
There are some really interesting examples out there. Rwanda has more than 50 per cent of women in its Parliament.
So how did that happen?:
In fact, there is a kind of fascism there, where special interests are granted special seats:
The lower chamber of parliament is made up of 80 members, 53 of whom are drawn from political organisations, 24 representing women (elected through the National Women Council structures), two youth representatives, and one representative of people living with disabilities.
So inherently less democratic. And it's a kind of tribalism that weakens Parliament, not strengthens it, by making politicians representatives of their special interest and not the broader nation. It also makes them easier to control from the top:
Independent candidates submit their own bids while political parties are required to submit lists of their aspirants for vetting.
So how does that work? No strong women allowed:
Diane Shima Rwigara, 35, was the first Rwandan woman to run for president as an independent – and the only woman in the August race – before she was disqualified. The fact that Rwanda has the world’s highest proportion of women in Parliament does not mean the country is comfortable with women in power, she says.
Rwigara warns that the president’s increasingly authoritarian stance could further oppress women, rather than empower them.“I don’t believe in the lie being sold to the world that Rwandan women have a voice – we don’t,” she says. “We’re only allowed to do or say certain things as dictated by the ruling party. If you don’t, you pay a high price.”
For Rwigara, that price was her bid for the presidency. Her nomination was excluded when the electoral commission said she didn’t have enough names to endorse her candidacy, a charge she rejects. “When I finally submitted my papers, the number of signatures were almost double the required number of 650 – I had over 1,100 signatures,” she says.
The harassment didn’t end there. Rwigara says the ruling party tried to discredit her by releasing fake nude pictures online, but Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) denied any involvement. Some of her family’s businesses have been shut down and bank accounts frozen without justification, she says, while members of her movement have been temporarily jailed and threatened by the police.
Research by University of Oxford affiliates Pamela Abbott (photo) and Dixon Malunda suggests the gendered change in leadership has not always translated to concrete gains for women and notes that Rwanda still has some way to go in changing discriminatory attitudes toward women in politics.
And Rwanda ends up with a Parliament that is toothless. From last year:
Next month one of the world’s most remarkable leaders, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, will be overwhelmingly re-elected to a third seven-year term. Kagame runs an authoritarian state and does not tolerate serious opposition.
The Way I See It....his election to a third term last week with a ludicrous 99 percent of the vote, against two opponents, is further evidence that despite Mr. Kagame’s achievements, he has all the makings of yet another strongman going through the motions of democracy.
But never mind the reality, look at the symbolism! This disastrous identity politics so excites Julia Gillard, who cares more about jobs for the girls than for true democracy and equality.