Rwanda, voted in their parliamentary election on September 3, 2018.

The results are expected to be announced on September 16, 2018. Rwanda is considered to be the world leader when it comes to women’s political representation. According to National Public Radio (NPR), Rwanda currently stands at the top of the list of countries in relation with women’s political participation, with women making up more than 60% in parliament.

Rwanda has a bicameral parliamentary system. The Senate has 26 seats and its members serve for an 8 year term. The members are appointed from different areas: out of the 26 members, 12 are indirectly elected by local councils, 8 are appointed by the President, 4 are appointed by the Political Organisation Forum (a registered body of political parties) and the remaining 2 are selected by higher learning institutions. The Chamber of Deputies has 80 seats and its members serve for 5 years: 53 members are directly elected by proportional representation vote, 24 are selected by special interest groups and the remaining seats are reserved for youth and disability organisations.

The president is directly elected by a simple majority vote for a 5 year term and is eligible for a second term. Yet due to the constitutional referendum that was approved in December 2013 allowed the president to serve for 7 years term. This amendment also allows for the current president, Paul Kagame to serve for 7 year term and be eligible to run for in the 2017 election.

In the 2018 parliamentary election the National Electoral Commission (NEC) estimated that 7.1 million voters participated in the elections. What makes the Rwandan election unique is that the voting takes consists of three phases. The first day of voting, only Rwandans from abroad are called to vote. The second day, Rwandans from within will elect the 53 deputies, and on the third day, the rest of the 27 deputies will be elected by specific groups: the disabled, the youth and women’s organisations.

Women’s Political Participation

In 1994, the country went through ethnic conflict and genocide that killed over 800,000 people . The new President at the time, Paul Kagame, recognises that building the country after such atrocities was impossible without including women: “Women are a cornerstone of prosperity of the society as a whole. Even in situations of conflicts they are in position to make unique contributions to peace and stability”.

According to the 2003 Rwandan constitution, 30% of parliamentary seats both in the upper and lower house are to be reserved for women. These seats are divided between provinces and the city of Kigali, which are elected through the National Women Council structures. This seats are by law, every political party needs to have 30% women of their candidates, leading to the fact Rwanda has one of the highest women MPs in its parlament. Additionally, 5 Political Organizations among the 11 registered in Rwanda are led by women. In addition, half of the cabinet, who are appointed by the president, are women. As for the judiciary, 4 out of the 7 supreme court justices are women.

In the September 2018 election, women’s participated in the election has been as high as in the last election if not more. The UN Women reports that the final list of candidates for this election has 61% of women. Before the election were held, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) urged women and girls to participate in the polls. In addition, UN Women with different partners conducted trainings to enable women in leadership and public speaking.

However, in the political history post genocide, there has only been one female presidential candidate. As for female employment, its above 80% however violence against women is recorded at 34% in Rwanda. Moreover, critics say that Rwanda has politically closed elections. The Human Rights Watch reported that the elections held in Rwanda are limiting to independent candidates and strong opposition parties. Since the coming to power post genocide, Mr. Kagame’s Party, The People’s Republic Front (RPF), have monopolized the political stage. In addition, running against the 4th term incumbent president with a strong opposition agenda has become impossible. Oppositions, claim that opponents in the 2017 presidential election have been politically targeted, exemplified by the arrest of one of the only female candidate opposing him, Diane Rwigara.


Rwanda is a world leader when it comes to women political participation. However there is still a doubt for women’s full equality with in the country. In addition, in its short lived democratic history, Rwanda has never had women presidential candidates. For now, the results the the 2018 parliamentary elections are yet to be announced. According to the NEC, the results are to be announced on Sep 16.

Women Representation Statistics    

Women Political Representation 2013 2018
Female Members of Parliament (Lower And Upper house of Senate) 23% (83 women/350 seats total) 34% (120 women/350 seats total)
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