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David Soler Crespo, Assistant of research of the Navarra Center for International Development of the Institute for Culture and Society

Women in politics needed to reduce maternal mortality

The introduction of gender quotas has doubled the number of female parliamentary representatives issue and has brought greater attention to the rights of the female population.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:26:00 +0000 Published in Planeta Futuro - El País

Judith Kanakuze never wanted to remember what happened in 1994: "God saved me, but not my family". Aloisea Inyumba never knew her father and had to escape with her mother and four siblings and grew up in a refugee camp in neighboring Uganda. Both joined the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) shortly thereafter. Like many women in the African country, Judith and Aloisea stepped forward to rebuild a nation that was torn, shredded and bled to death after a terrible genocide that left more than 800,000 dead and brought with it a bitter three-year civil war.

The genocide left a decimated society with 70% of women who had never worked or held positions of power. In addition, 250,000 were raped and infected with the HIV virus and 35,000 became pregnant, according to data of Human Rights Watch. Society had to be rebuilt with women. Judith and Aloisea knew this. In the first parliament in 1994 there were only eight women among the 70 deputies (11.4%), but with their work the perspective changed radically.

Aloisea became Minister of Gender and Family in 1994 and created a nationwide women's program for women to take the lead in local communities. Judith was one of three women on the commission that drafted the country's new constitution in 2003, which included a minimum quota of 30% women in the national parliament. Years later, she succeeded in legislating against gender-based violence and criminalizing rape.

Both have already passed away due to long illnesses, but thanks to women like Judith and Aloisea, Rwanda is today the country with the most women parliamentarians in the world. They occupy 62% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 49 of the 80 seats. In addition, Rwandan women account for 55% of the country's jobs and own 40% of the country's businesses.

The example of Rwanda sample that, in order to develop policies that directly address promote women's welfare and rights, women must be involved in politics. Since 1990, a total of 22 countries - 15 of them in sub-Saharan Africa - have implemented by law a minimum number of women parliamentarians. The implementation of gender quotas in politics is controversial, but a pioneering research sample has great effects on the health and development of the female population.

The study, graduate Maternal Mortality and Women's Political Participation, published at the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER), finds that the implementation of parliamentary quotas directly reduces maternal mortality by 9-12%. This research, led by Joseph Gomes, researcher of the Navarra Center for International Development, together with Sonia Bhalotra (Essex), Damian Clarke (University of Santiago de Chile) and Atheendar Venkataramani (University of Pennsylvania) sample also improves medical care during pregnancy.

The results reveal that, without investing more money in care, the introduction of gender quotas in parliaments increases care during childbirth by 8% to 11% and the implementation of prenatal care by 6% to 11%.

Between 1990 and 2015, some 10.5 million women, 99% of them in countries at development, have died from preventable complications during pregnancy, according to data of the World Health Organization. However, the trend has improved the more power women have accumulated. In that 25-year period, the issue of women parliamentarians has doubled from 10% to 20%, and in turn the maternal mortality rate has decreased by 44% around the world. Every day in 1990, 1,458 women died trying to become mothers; today there are 830. development The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals purpose include the goal of reducing the maternal mortality ratio from 216 deaths per 100,000 births today to just 70 deaths by 2030.

This pioneering research sample that with women in power, policies aimed at the inclusion and rights of the female population are promoted. The economic and social progress of countries in development cannot and should not occur without the active participation of women. Politics must be an example of equality for promote a feminist, just and progressive society.