Before the 2005 election, women’s legislative representation in Mauritius had always been one of the lowest in the African continent, and the lowest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Although the number of women in the Mauritian legislature has fluctuated over time, the latest election on July 3, 2005 brought an unprecedented increase in the number of women from 4 (5.7 per cent) to 12 (17.1 per cent) in its 70-member legislature. Before this increase, the number of female members of parliament (MPs) had never exceeded six. If so, what contributed to such a sharp increase? This study addresses this question by examining the factors that helped bring about this unprecedented increase. Specifically, we discuss the political experience and name recognition of certain female candidates, efforts of women’s NGOs, effective matching of female candidates to the profiles of constituencies, contagion of nominating women, and women’s effective election campaigns as the major factors. These factors were also present in the previous election years to some extent, but they were more visible and better orchestrated in 2005.

Author Biography

Mi Yung Yoon, Department of International Studies Hanover College Hanover, IN

Sheila Bunwaree, University of Mauritius Reduit, Mauritius