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Help advance the political rights of women in Ecuador


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Opinion

This article is part of the special IPS coverage of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020

UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) *

Orange the World walk in Ecuador. November 2019. Credit: UN Women / Johis Alarcón

QUITO, Ecuador, March 2, 2020 (IPS) – The inclusion of women in political processes is one of the key ingredients for lasting peace.

Although the number of women in political office has increased around the world during the last 25 years, progress has been slow.

From January 1, 2020, only four countries had at least 50 percent women parliamentarians (Rwanda, Cuba, Bolivia and United Arab Emirates).

In the Americas region, an average of 30.6% of parliamentarians were women in October 2019. In December 2019, the National Assembly of Ecuador approved a package of reforms aimed at advancing gender parity and remove barriers that prevent women from running for office. .

United Nations data, analysis and recommendations have contributed to what is considered a milestone in the country.

The United Nations and other international organizations will devote significant time and attention in 2020 to assessing progress (or lack thereof) in increasing the participation of women in political and peace processes.

Twenty years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325, the consensus, supported by evidence, is that the participation of women in peacemaking and peacebuilding contributes to the quality and sustainability of peace after a conflict.

It is also increasingly evident that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves these processes. To this body of evidence is added a recent to study (in Spanish) by UN Women, conducted in cooperation with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), on the situation in Ecuador.

The South American country ranks sixth in Latin America, out of 33 countries, in terms of the number of women legislators in the National Assembly. However, the number of women elected at the local level is very low.

The UN study aimed to determine, among other things, why this was so and what could be done about it. The research identifies discrimination, but also political violence against women, as reasons for the small number of female civil servants in the country.

The study includes information from 154 people, including 41 women candidates and 12 focus groups in the March 2019 elections. It focuses on situations of discrimination and violence that women experience when choosing a party and of a political movement; register their candidacies; take office as an authority; in the performance of their duties and during the campaign and electoral process.

The results show that violence against women candidates takes place within their families, communities and political parties. The violence is largely psychological, but it is also physical and sexual. This violence is a central obstacle to women’s access and participation in politics.

Sixty-six percent of women surveyed said psychological violence was the most common manifestation of political violence, including reputational damage and rumor campaigns against them; make them invisible, barely publicize their candidacy or their governance, and isolate, exclude or marginalize them; and party members or local government officials withholding information or providing false information.

A third of the women surveyed said they had been bullied, ridiculed and mocked in public, prevented from speaking or expressing what they think.

The perpetrators of gender-based political violence against women were political actors (political party leaders, election candidates, political party activists and campaign staff); societal stakeholders (voters, family members, community members or groups, religious or traditional leaders, social media and networks, employers and co-workers); and government stakeholders (police, military and other government personnel from all branches of the state, including election officials and personnel).

In June 2019, the DPPA adopted a new policy on women, peace and security calling for specific efforts to advance gender equality and the inclusion and empowerment of women, including necessary measures to promote women’s political participation through legislation.

An electoral needs assessment mission deployed to Ecuador in May 2019 explicitly recommended supporting the National Electoral Council to prevent and mitigate violence against women in political life.

In partnership with UN Women Ecuador, the DPPA supported efforts to address political violence against women, promoting the links between SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and SDG 5 on gender equality.

The United Nations study recommended specific structural reforms of the legal and institutional framework, as well as the promotion of cultural change through the women’s movement and the media. The study notably advocated changes to prevent, identify, denounce and punish violence against female candidates.

In August 2019, the Institute of Democracy of the National Electoral Council organized two public debates in Quito and Guayaquil on the findings of the study.

The information and analysis of the study, the comments of women politicians and the joint work between the National Electoral Council, the Institute of Democracy and UN Women, with the support of the DPPA, served as the basis for a project. proposal to amend the Code of Democracy. .

The National Electoral Council submitted the proposal to the National Assembly in the fall of 2019. On December 3, 2019, the National Assembly approved the reform package, with key provisions to advance gender parity and combat gender equality. violence against candidates.

Diana Atamaint, President of the National Electoral Council, welcomed the reforms and thanked the United Nations for their contributions through data, analysis and recommendations at this important stage.

The reforms include equal heads in the lists of candidates gradually: 15% women by 2021, 30% in 2023, until reaching 50% in 2025.

The presidential pairs must be composed of male-female or female-male candidates by 2025. In addition, the provisions relating to political violence provide for specific sanctions against political violence based on gender.

* The article was first published in the online magazine of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA)