Uruguay passes Gender Equality Law for Congress

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff

MONTEVIDEO – The government of Uruguay Wednesday passed a law which will guarantee the presence of women on ballots for every single parliamentary election.

The law, which was supported by 76 of the 85 Deputies who voted, will ensure that for every three candidates present on a ballot, at least one will be female. However, in order to maintain equity, the law stipulates that there should also be at least one male on the ballot.

The new law will apply to all parliamentary election as well as departmental and municipal elections, and even interior elections of each political party.

Many of the congressmen for the National Alliance were opposed to the law, with Jorge Gandini, the representative for the coalition, commenting that it was a “polemic” measure. However, Gandini himself also proposed that this level of gender equality should also be applied to other government posts, to ensure equality of opportunities even in non-elected positions.

Other representatives of Congress highlighted that, even though they may have voted for the bill, they did not like the idea of “limits” to how far women can go. This was an objection to the clause that both sexes have to be present on the ballot.

The nationalist Elizabeth Arrieta commented that “This is not a fight of women against men, nor is it one where women want to “replace” men. We just want to equalize all opportunities”.

This law widens the reach of an experimental bill passed in 2009 which stipulated that there should be a female presence on all national ballots, which applied to Congressional Elections as well as inter-party elections. However, the new law now obligates this across all elections and adds the clause requiring the presence of men on the ballot.