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30 % quota for women in East Timor assembly

30 % quota for women in East Timor assembly





REDE, East Timor's Women's Network, is right now lobbying hard for a quota of at least 30% women to be made mandatory for elections to the Constituent Assembly, and for a proportional system whereby political parties are required to field 30% women candidates (with women being listed as every third candidate from the top of the list).

UNTAET, which will make the final decision on this after considering recommendations from the National Council, has received the proposal very negatively, arguing that quotas infringe the concept of free and fair elections. Yet there are several precedents of elections conducted using quotas to favour women's election in this way. They have been used in Bosnia, India, and South Africa to good effect over the past decade. There are also numerous UN resolutions, documents and statements which make it clear that women's full participation in political structures, political parties, and government is vitally important.

REDE feels that it is imperative that the constituent assembly, which will agree East Timor's constitution, is composed of at least 30% women, and preferably more, so that women's concerns are adequately reflected. REDE is making its views plain to both UNTAET and to East Timor's political parties.

East Timorese women have been politically marginalised for long enough. They have made it clear that they want to have a much stronger voice in the new East Timor. If quotas are denied them, they will lose an important means of ensuring that women's voices are taken seriously through a proper engagement with the discussion and adoption of the constitution.

CIIR calls upon individuals, NGOs, solidarity groups and East Timor networks everywhere to add your support to REDE's concerns and to lobby the United Nations in New York, your governments, and UNTAET to take into account the legitimate aspirations of East Timorese women.

Please write in support of REDE's demands to:

Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations, UN Plaza, 10017, New York, USA
Fax: 1 212 963 4879

Mrs. Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, Fax: 41 22 917 9016

Your Ambassador to the UN
Sir Kieran Prendergast, Department of Political Affairs, UN Plaza, 10017 New York, USA
Fax: 212 963 2979 (Electoral Assistance Division).
Sergio Vieira de Mello, UNTAET, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, C/O UN Plaza

Catherine Scott,
Asia Policy Officer,
Catholic Institute for International Relations,
Unit 3, Canonbury Yard,
190a new North Road,
London N1 7BJ
Tel: 020 7354 0883
Fax: 020 7359 0017


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