On 8 April 2011, the Republic of Djibouti held its third Presidential election since gaining independence from France in 1977i. With 152, 000 registered voter, voter turnout and the exact number of women voters is unclear there were no women candidateii. The competition took place between three male candidates.
After the official opposition staged a boycott alleging irregularities only two candidates registered to run in the 2011 presidential election. This resulted is Guelleh only facing one opponent – the independent candidate Mohammed Warsama Raguehiii.


Djibouti considered a “partially free” country by the Freedom House Index has been slow to transform and challenge the traditional status of women and has seen virtually no political participation by women over the course of its history. Djiboutian women have had the right to vote since 1946.Djiboutian tradition dictates that the man is the head of the family. Yet the role of women is increasingly important. Women have taken greater initiative in running the family since the adoption of the Family Code in 2002iv.

The ratification of the international women’s Convention in 1998 with no reservations sparked a transformation in Djibouti that has “changed the landscape of the country” and resulted in the election of seven female Parliamentarians in 2003v.

The creation of a Ministry for Women’s Promotion and the Adoption of the Strategy for Women’s Integration ensured the adoption of a National Action Plan in 2002. While additional measures such as the temporary quota requiring 20% of women in high-ranking posts has resulted in three ministerial posts now held by women. A woman was recently elected as head of one of the country’s four major political parties.

Election Outcome/Conclusion

This election saw incumbent President Ismail Omar Guelleh extend his rule to a third termvi. The opposition boycott, along with the expulsion of a group of American election monitorsvii has brought the legitimacy of the election into doubt.

In June of this year the country welcomed its first-ever female ambassador and in July the State party appeared before the monitoring Committee for its first-ever periodic review of the implementation of the conventionviii. Through which it demonstrated it’s commitment to ensuring the franchise of women across the country.

Despite progress made to bolster women’s status in the northeast African country, experts expressed concern about the persistence of major obstacles there — including the staggering prevalence of female genital mutilation and the sluggish pace of women’s economic development.

Women Political Representation Statisticsix

Political Representation

As of 2003

After the elections in 2011

Upper House of Bicameral Parliament



Lower House/Uni Cameral Parliament


7/65 or 10.8%


% of candidate lists headed by a female candidate




iDjibouti Opposition Boycotts Presidential Election’, Somali and Press, 12 March 2011, http://somalilandpress.com

iii‘Elections in Djibouti’, African Election Database, http://africanelections.tripod.com

ivYoussouf, H. A. (2004). Arab Quota Report: Selected Case Studies-Women's Participation and Special Measures in Djibouti. Cairo: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Asssistance.

vi'Djibouti: President Ismail Omar Guelleh wins third term’, BBC News, 9 April 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk.

viiWilliam Davidson, ‘Djibouti Opposition Meets After Violence At Protests; One Policeman Killed’, 19 February 2011, Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com

ixCompilation or IPU (International Parliamentary Union-Women in Politics Data Base), Government Based Statistics and information from Afro-barometer Data Collection.

Go to top