Gender (IN)Equality Index: Political Participation in Latin America

May 21, 2018

For a deeper look at the Policy Shift Gender(IN)equality Index of Latin America, we present the rankings of each country according to one of the index's principal categories: political participation

Aspects related to political participation represent a total weight of 20% in Policy Shift’s Gender (IN)Equality Index. Countries are assessed on indicators such as: share of women in the executive branch, share of women in the legislative branch and the existence of quotas or reserved seats for women in parliament.


Nicaragua, Bolivia and Argentina stand as the top 3 countries in this category, with the highest score being 73/100. These three countries have set quotas in their respective parliaments for women, and women occupy more than 40% of the seats. Nicaragua’s executive branch displays the highest number of women in the region with 42% of women holding an office in the executive branch. However, this rate is considerably lower for Bolivia and Argentina, with 15% and 14% of women represented in this branch respectively.

 

Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago fall on the other side of the spectrum with scores lower than 30/100. None of these countries have been identified as imposing quotas to guarantee the participation of women in the legislative branch and only a few women form part of the government. In Guatemala, for instance, only one woman per every ten men held a government position in 2017. 

 

Elections in Latin America: A snapshot of Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua

 

The countries below represent three examples of Latin American countries who have recently held elections or have an upcoming election scheduled this month. In order to provide a snapshot of the political participation in each country, each graph illustrations the participation of women in the legislative and executive branch, followed by an explanation of the electoral status and results.

Colombia has instituted quotas for gender representation in the Legislative Branch since the year 2000.

 

In the Policy Shift Index Political Participation category, Colombia shares the fourth position with seven countries in the region, including Uruguay and Mexico. In the global ranking of the Gender Index of Policy Shift, Colombia ranks first of a total of 22 countries in Latin America.                 

 

Presidential elections will take place on May 27, 2018 with a second round scheduled on June 17th if no candidate wins the majority of votes. The current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has already served two terms and is not eligible for re-election. The elected candidate will serve for four years. 


The Parliamentary elections have already taken place on March 11, 2018 to elect 102 members of the Senate and 166 members of the House of Representatives.

Costa Rica has had quotas in place for gender representation in the Legislative Branch since 1996.

 

Costa Rica shares the fourth position with seven countries in the region, including Uruguay and Mexico, for its policies implemented for gender participation in its political system. In the global ranking of the Gender Index of Policy Shift, Costa Rica ranks second after Colombia in a total of 22 countries in Latin America.

 

In 2018, general elections were held in Costa Rica to elect both the President and Legislative Assembly. The first round for the presidential election took place on the February 4, 2018. Two candidates received the highest number of votes, although neither received a majority during the first round: Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz from the Conservative National Restoration Party (24%) and former Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada from the Citizen’s Action Party (21%).

 

Since no candidate received more than 40% of the votes in the first round, a second round took place on the April 1, 2018 and was won by Carlos Alvarado Quesada with 60.6% of the votes.

 

Nicaragua has the presence of party quotas since 2000. Under Article 82 (4) of the 2000 Electoral Law (No. 331, as amended by Law No.790/2012), political parties or the coalition of political parties which participate in the National Assembly elections must include in their electoral lists 50% men and 50% women candidates (1).

 

In the Policy Shift Index political participation indicator, Nicaragua ranks first out of a total of 22 countries. In the global ranking of the Gender Index of Policy Shift, Nicaragua comes in at number four.

 

In November 2016, general elections were held for the election of the President and the National Assembly. Daniel Ortega the incumbent president was re-elected for a third consecutive term.

 

(1) https://www.idea.int/data-tools/data/gender-quotas/country-view/232/35

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    Policy Shift is proud to partner with OPALC, the Latin American Observatory at Sciences Po