The republic of Congo has made great strides in gender equality and women empowerment. Over the years much progress has also been made with respect to women’s participation in the country’s political life.
According to the country’s 2015 constitution, women have the same rights as men and the law guarantees their position and their due representation in all political, elective and administrative posts.
However, when it comes to seeking the country’s top seat only two women have run for elections. Angèle Bandou ran unsuccessfully in 1992 and 2002. In the 1992 presidential race, Bandou received less than one per cent of the overall vote. In 2002, she received 2 per cent of the vote and came in third behind President Denis Sassou Nguesso, with 80 per cent and Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mbougou, with 3 percent of the vote. Claudine Munari ran in the 2016 presidential elections where she came 4th with 1.54 per cent of the vote. This time round no woman has shown interest in leading the country.
Despite all this, Congo has always been keen on promoting gender equality and empowering women. In 1999, the government adopted a National Policy for the Advancement of Women.
Currently, women make up 22 per cent of the Congolese government. 8 women out of the 36 members participate in leading the country. A figure that has clearly evolved compared to previous years. The establishment of the Ministry for the Advancement of Women and the Integration of Women in Development is one of the measures taken by the government to promote the emancipation of women.
In 2016, this Ministry, with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), developed a national program to promote women’s leadership in politics and public life. A four year program that has been running since 2017.
This program is a major step in the Republic of Congo’s efforts to empower women and achieve gender equality. Although the gap is currently huge, action at all levels is needed to establish egalitarian values in society and unleash the potential of women.