Côte d’Ivoire’s Presidential Election took place on October 31st, 2020. The four candidates were incumbent President Alassane Oauttara, Henri Konan Bedie, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and Kouadio Konan Bertin. Ouattara was re-elected for a third term in office after garnering 94.27% of the vote despite a turnout of 53.9%. However, opposition parties claimed Ouattara violated the constitution, and they urged their supporters to boycott the election and stay at home as an act of civil disobedience. On November 7th opposition leader and former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan was placed under arrest for creating a rival transitional government. On November 9th, President Ouattara’s win was officially validated.


Côte d’Ivoire has been rocked by deadly protests since Ouattara announced his bid for a third term in office in August. Ouattara said that he would seek re-election following the sudden death of his hand-picked successor Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Pre-election clashes killed at least thirty people, sparking fears of a repeat of the post-election violence that killed some 3,000 people in 2010 and 2011. More than 3,200 people have fled into neighbouring Liberia, Ghana and Togo, fearing violence.

Following the adoption of the new Constitution in 2016, Côte d’Ivoire now has a bicameral parliament consisting of the National Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house.) The President is elected for a five-year term using the two-round system. Each President has a two-term limit, however Ouattara said the recent change in 2016 to the Constitution allowed him to restart his mandate. The new Constitution also added a new executive position, the Vice-President. There are no legislated quotas, rather voluntary party quotas are used. The Ivorian Popular Front Party has had a 30% quota for women at all levels of its structures since 2001, including electoral candidate lists. However, the quota has not always been put into practice. Côte d’Ivoire is 129th in IPU’s global rankings for women in parliament - 29 of 255 (11%) seats in the National Assembly, and 8 of 66 (12.1%) seats of the Senate are held by women. 12% of MPs are women compared to a regional average of 23% in Africa.

Women’s Political Participation

Women were granted the right to vote and to stand for election in 1952. However, it was only recently that women have been candidates in elections. The 2010 Presidential election was the first time a woman ran for President. In 2015, the election had 2 female candidates out of 10. Women currently hold 29 seats (11.37%) in National Assembly.

3 out of 44 applications for this Presidential election were from women. Danièle Boni Claverie, a journalist and politician, and Marie Carine Bladi, runner-up in the Miss Côte d’Ivoire 2002 beauty pageant turned politician were two of the women running for President. The slogan of Boni Claverie’s party - the Union Républicaine pour la Démocratie (URD) - is “Change and Construct”, and focuses on tackling youth unemployment and the "integration" of immigrants within Ivorian society. She lobbied to bring more women into municipal councils and said she would make the eradication of FGM a priority if she got into office. Carine Bladi is the head of Nouvel Ivoirien Côte d’Ivoire Nouvelle, a political party she created in 2018 that describes itself as "divine" and rooted in "biblical truth". Before entering politics, Carine Bladi was a businesswoman and clothing line designer.

Until now, the most influential woman in Ivorian politics has been Simone Gbagbo, who served as First Lady to Laurent Gbagbo between 2000 and 2011. She was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in the 2010/2011 post-electoral violence which left more than 3,000 dead, 150 women and girls raped or sexually assaulted, and over 100,000 displaced. Later she was acquitted on charges of crimes against humanity and granted amnesty by President Ouattara.

The 2010/11 civil war in Côte d’Ivoire led to an increase of sexual violence against women and girls across the country. As a result, a number of strategies to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality were introduced, as well as adopting new laws. The National Plan Against Gender-Based Violence for 2009 to 2014 aimed to provide a holistic framework of action to address GBV in the country.

Other issues include the high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS which disproportionately affects Ivorian women (4.6% for women and 2.7% for men aged 15 to 49). In 2014, Law No 2014-430 on prevention, protection and repression relating to the fight against HIV and AIDS was adopted. Abortion is illegal, except to save a woman’s life, and there is no legislation to specifically address domestic violence. In the private sector women account for 11.5% of all employees.


Overall, Côte d’Ivoire faces many challenges as it recovers from a civil war that started a decade ago, and a potential new one with the current unstable political climate. Even though women are actively engaged in leading sectors like agriculture, and despite some measures being taken by the government, there continues to be a lack of female representation in decision-making positions. Reasons why women remain underrepresented in the Côte d’Ivoire include poor funding for candidates, weak electoral structures that make it difficult for women to contest, and a culture that views men as more worthy leaders. Compulsory quotas must replace current voluntary ones if the country is to see real progress in terms of women’s visibility.





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