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Advocacy to strengthen women’s participation in Haitian political parties

From left to right: Alfonso Ferrufino, Principal Assessor of International IDEA office in Bolivia; Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue, Senior Programme Manager of IDEA Haiti office; Eunide Innocent, Minister of Women Affairs and Gender Issues of Haiti; Marie Doucey, Senior Programme Officer at International IDEA Haiti.

On 19-20 October 2017, International IDEA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Gender Issues in Haiti, held an important forum that gathered women´s organizations and political parties to discuss the strategies and possible interventions to promote and strengthen the role of women in politics in the country.

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Despite a gender quota of having at least 30 per cent women at all decision-making levels, Haiti continues to face a problem of under-representation of women in politics, especially in the Parliament. As a result of failure to implement the existing laws and lack of willingness from political parties, Haitian Parliament constitutes only 2.7 per cent women´s representation, including one senator and three deputies. The quota, has, however, been honoured at the local and municipal election, directing political parties to include at least one woman in any three-member cartel. As a result, there are now 12 female mayors and 130 female members of municipal cartel in Haiti.

Most political parties in the country do not have specific provisions to promote women’s participation within their structures. Some simply fail to identify female leaders willing to run for elections. However, there are many active women’s organizations which can identify numerous well-trained female leaders. However, many of them are not yet involved into politics.

International IDEA and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Gender Issues organized a forum that would allow political parties and women organizations to meet, network, share experiences and lessons learned in order to successfully promote women’s political participation and representation. This activity gathered several political personalities and women’s organization to discuss together important topics related to the role of women in politics.

The forum saw interesting debates and inspiring talks from proponents of the Haitian political scene. Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue, Senior Programme Manager at International IDEA in Haiti and former Minister of Women Affairs and Gender Issues of Haiti declared: “We have to work hands in hands, to reach a critical number of women in Parliament”. The only female senator Dieudonne Luma Étienne stressed that “the power is not given, we have to take it!” She strongly encouraged female leaders to engage into politics and fight for a seat in Parliament. The Minister of Women Affairs and Gender Issues, Eunide Innocent, emphasized the importance of dialogue for a fair and inclusive society. Many interventions followed, with each political party presenting their internal rules and policy to promote women’s participation.

Alfonso Ferrufino, Principal Assessor of International IDEA office in Bolivia, was the guest of honor of this activity. He made two presentations to share his experience working for the promotion of women’s representation in politics and on the political parties’ law in Bolivia. His participation was a substantive added value to the activity, and a key source of comparative knowledge for parties and women’s organizations.

The forum was a significant success, with an enthusiastic participation of up to one hundred people. In the final speech, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue underlined the importance of the much-needed alliance among women to empower each other.

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About the authors

Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue
Head of Programme, Haiti
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