40% of legislative candidates in Colombia are women | International

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An image with some of the candidates in the legislature, on the steps of the Congress of the Republic in Bogotá.heading for parity

“Candidate to talk more about her appearance than her work. Candidate to be put on the lists to be asked later not to campaign. Candidate to be notified when they meet to make decisions. Candidate for her party not to support her with resources. Candidate to work and not appear”. Despite those barriers, brought together in a video by the program More women, more democracy, towards parity1,112 Colombian women have decided to be candidates and aspire to win a space in the Colombian congress on March 13.

The figures indicate that women represent 40% of all candidates for the Chamber and Senate, just 6% more than in the last legislative elections of 2018. “In numbers, there is an increase of 178 women candidates and a reduction of 97 candidacies of men”, indicates the analysis of UN Women, one of the organizations that led the Towards Parity strategy.

The initiative that brings together the International Cooperation Gender Roundtable, the Ministry of the Interior, the Presidential Council for Women's Equality, the National Registry of Civil Status, the National Electoral Council and the Legal Commission for Women's Equality of the Congress of the Republic held meetings with the directors of the Colombian political parties to insist on the importance of women's participation in the lists. They also created a countdown timer until the closing of the inscriptions and sent alerts to the parties to remind them of the inclusion of women candidates, in addition to forums and other actions to promote them. Now, their stories and projects are contained on the website, www.rumboalaparidad.co

“It is not a huge increase but it is positive, an advance in the search for equity. I am convinced that in the Colombian parties there is a desire to improve that rate, that they are more aware of the need to reach a greater balance”, said the Norwegian ambassador and president of the International Cooperation Gender Table, John Petter Opdahl. For him, however, the tradition of Colombian politics, with few parties and many men, is difficult to break.

In Colombia there is a Quota Law that requires that 30% of high public positions must be held by women. However, this is not always the case and there is also an underrepresentation in Congress. For this reason, among other reasons, the Senate approved a new Electoral Code that requires party lists to have equality between men and women, although its implementation is still subject to a ruling by the Constitutional Court. Without such court ratification, enforcement depends on the commitment of the parties.

Looking ahead to the legislative elections next Sunday and according to UN Women, of 16 lists for the Senate, 44% (seven lists) have at least 40% women as candidates and the remaining 56% of the lists barely reach 30 % of women candidacies, complying with current legislation. Only three lists exceed 50% of women candidates. These are We Are Ready Colombia, the Metapolitical Unitary Movement and the Colombian Liberal Party. "The movement We are Ready Colombia stands out, made up of 69% women, where the first places are occupied by women and later by the candidacies of men," says UN Women.

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In addition to the number of candidates, the place they occupy also matters. Of the 16 registered lists, only five have a woman as head: the New Liberalism, with the journalist Mabel Lara; the Partido de la U, with the Olympic medalist Catherin Ibargüen; the MIRA Coalition – Just Free Colombia, with the economist and politician Ana Paola Agudelo; We are Ready, with the historian and urban planning expert, Elizabeth Giraldo; and the Organized Sector National Movement of Health SOS Colombia, with the doctor Carolina McCormick.

The mere inclusion in the lists does not guarantee the arrival to the Legislative either, since most of the lists are open and the voters freely choose the candidates. In the current Congress there is an “underrepresentation of women”, according to UN Women. Of the 270 elected positions in the legislature that is ending, only 55 are women, that is, 20%. “The next electoral contest of 2022 should allow us to leave behind the current 20% participation in Congress and make history with the largest number of seats obtained by women in an election, approaching the percentages of neighboring countries such as Bolivia (55.6%). , Mexico (49.2%) or Argentina (43.1%)”, indicates the Towards Parity initiative.

Opdahl says that it is surprising that Colombia does not have a greater representation. “This country has a very strong and organized civil society and, in my opinion, better women's organizations than any other country in the world, surely because of the armed conflict. That is why it is a surprise that this capacity is not reflected in Congress, ”she maintains.

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