MONTEVIDEO – Female lawmakers are calling for greater congressional representation in Uruguay, where women hold just 19 percent of the seats in the legislature.
“The contributions that we women make to political life are important. To life in general, but particularly to political life, especially because of the different outlook that we bring when it comes time to negotiate, dialogue and lead,” Sen. Veronica Alonso, of the National Party, told EFE.
Some female politicians contend that women are underrepresented in Congress and have called for action, with the proposals ranging from quotas to parity in the legislature.
In late 2014, following national elections, Uruguay reached the highest number ever of women in Congress, where they occupied 19.4 percent of the seats in both houses.
The 2015-2020 Congress started with eight female senators and 15 female members of the lower house, thanks to a temporary quota law that required parties to include at least one woman for every three men on candidate lists.
Some female politicians are now calling for a permanent fix for the legislative representation system.
“Really, what we have is strong discrimination, which, in addition, is on us all – both men and women contribute to this machista concept – and we hear all kinds of arguments every time this type of legislation is debated,” Sen. Monica Xavier, of the governing leftist Broad Front coalition, told EFE.
Uruguay, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) figures, ranks No. 118 out of 193 countries in terms of female representation in the legislature, well below other South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
Female politicians say the time has come to change the situation in Uruguay.
Congresswoman Susana Montaner, a member of the Colorado Party, said she understood that “we have to push a little” to improve on the 19.4 percent figure, but the way to do it is less clear.
“I agree that the ideal thing would be parity, but you can’t use a legal instrument to impose what comes down to (people’s) thinking and something that is rooted culturally,” Montaner said.