The relationship between gender and governance is often neglected in both conceptual and empirical work. However, gender equality in the decision-making fora is vital, for enabling far-reaching social change and for empowering people excluded from decision making. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the participation of women in governance institutions in a small island economy like Mauritius. Though, there has been some progress in Mauritius in redressing the gender imbalance in national and local governance processes, more is still to be achieved. This paper analyses women participation in governance by using gender-sensitive governance indicators.
Data were collected from different sources namely from the Mauritian Electoral Commissioner's Office, Statistics Mauritius, Mauritius Household Budget Surveys and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources. Data were also made available from the Global Gender Gap Report, 2012; the Global Parliamentary Report, 2012 and the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, 2012. These data were used in the computation of gender-sensitive governance indicators used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2006). The indicators are the Global Gender Gap Index, the percentage of seats reserved in parliament for women, voter turnout among registered females and prevalence of women in poor districts.
The paper argues that the overall gender gap index for Mauritius has increased over the years but the scores for economic participation and political attainment remain very low. In the economic sphere, the author note a rising female unemployment rate, though girls perform better than boys at all educational levels. Mauritius has been adept at the politics of recognition of different ethnic groups but this approach has not addressed the issue of women. The findings reveal that women are often excluded from decision making, from the household up to the highest levels of policymaking. The “invisibility” of women in parliament, is a concern and is “a grave democratic deficit” for the country (Sachs, 2001).
No study has taken a gender perspective of governance issues in Mauritius. The author assess the importance of gender in a democratic country like Mauritius which has performed well on the economic front but gender is still too often ignored in governance and other spheres. There is thus a growing need for greater gender equality and participation of women in governance institutions and processes.
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