Despite the male-dominated political landscape in Ivory Coast, a handful of women intend to stand for president in the October election. Among them are Marie Carine Bladi and Danièle Boni Claverie, who offer a study in contrasts: one is a relative newcomer, a beauty queen making waves, while the other is a seasoned politician.
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Politics in the Ivory Coast is a largely masculine affair. The ballot for Octobers presidential election is dominated by three veteran male politicians: 78-year-old President Alassane Ouattara, 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bédié and 67-year-old former premier Pascal Affi N'Guessan.
But Article 36 of the new constitution, introduced at the end of 2016, says the state must seek “the promotion of political rights for women by increasing their representation in elected assemblies”.
While a new law introduced in 2019 stipulates that at least 30 percent of candidates fielded by parties for parliamentary and regional elections must be women, there is still a long way to go.
“Who is in power? Who governs?” asks Rachel Gogoua, president of the Group of Female Organisations for Gender Equality (GOFEHF), which lobbied for the quota. “The president is a man. The prime minister is a man. The minister of finance, the president of the National Assembly, the president of the Independent Electoral Commission: They are all men.”
Only 15 percent of government ministers are women – in the National Assembly, this percentage drops to just 12 percent. But Gogoua does not believe that traditional cultural or societal barriers facing women are to blame.
“Men dont put women in political positions under the pretext that women themselves dont want to be candidates,” she said. In reality, she believes it boils down to economics and male fragility.
“Women are poorer than men. They dont have the resources to finance their campaigns,” she said. “There is also resistance from men in the cities. Men in suits and ties think women are coming to take their place. But such places shouldnt be reserved for anyone. Women, like men, are part of society. They must both contribute to the development of this country. Everyone has their place.”
Until now, the most influential woman in Ivorian politics has been Simone Gbagbo, who served as First Lady between 2000-2011. She has since divorced her husband.
Despite the male-dominated political landscape, a handful of women intend to stand for president in the upcoming election. Among them are two highly contrasting figures, Danièle Boni Claverie and Marie Carine Bladi.
Danièle Boni Claverie
A seasoned politician, Boni Claverie enters the presidential race as the candidate for the Union Républicaine pour la Démocratie (URD), the centrist party she created in 2006.
She began her career as a journalist, climbing to become president of Canal Horizons, a TV channel broadcasting across Africa and the Middle East. She has also served as the director of the countrys national broadcaster, RTI.
In 1994 she was scouted and named as the minister of communications during the presidency of Konan Bédié, who was ousted five years later in a bloodless coup.
Disillusioned with the Democratic Party (Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire or PDCI), Boni Claverie swiftly aligned her new party with former president Laurent Gbagbos Ivorian Popular Front. “We had a very strong start,” she said. “We had lots of members, we were very well-structured and we followed a moderate line. We never allowed ourselves to enter into extreme discourse.”
Astute political manoeuvring allowed Boni Claverie to obtain a second ministerial post as the minister of women, family and children under Gbagbos government. Since then, she has been in the opposition.
Such success did not come easily. “Like all women, I had to assert myself twice as hard. On a professional level, even in my career as a journalist, I saw boys and men get ahead of me with promotions that werent totally deserved,” she said.
Her partys slogan is, “Change and Construct”. Their priorities include tackling youth unemployment and the "integration" of immigrants within Ivorian society.
Like most candidates, she also stresses the need for stability in a country where the last post-electoral crisis that saw Ouattara unseat Gbagbo in 2010-2011 claimed more than 3,000 lives.
“The big parties have been warning that we need to look out for a post-electoral crisis,” she said. “But for two or three months, I have been warning of a pre-electoral crisis. And I think we are living through one. We have clashes now that could transform into communitarian and ethnic violence.”
Since President Ouattara said he would run for a third mandate, in what most legal experts consider a violation of a constitutional rule that establishes a two-term limit, at least six people have been killed in street protests. There are already signs that the unrest is morphing into communal violence, in towns such as Bonoua, some 50 kms (31 miles) from Abidjan.
While insisting, “I dont like stereotypes,” Boni Claverie thinks women might be uniquely placed to lead the country away from such tensions. “Women manage their households every day. We have experience in settling conflicts. We have a natural way of mediating and using worRead More – Source