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  • Members of the 'Bartolinas', Bolivia's Indigenous womens union.

    Members of the 'Bartolinas', Bolivia's Indigenous womens union. | Photo: Consulado Boliviano en Rosario

Published 23 July 2019

Elsewhere in the region, Cuba has the highest number of women in parliament with 53.2 percent. Brazil has the lowest rate of female participation, with just 11.3 percent of lawmakers being women.

Bolivia's elections will see one of the region's highest women participation with 49.7 percent of parliamentary candidates for the upcoming October elections are women. President Evo Morales’ ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ (MAS) is leading the way with a majority of female candidates on their party lists.

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Political parties in Bolivia submitted Saturday their list of candidates for the country’s two legislative houses. As the names on the lists became public, it emerged a large number were women, with the ruling MAS in the lead with 51.4 percent.

Bolivia has the second-highest rate of female political participation in Latin America, with 51.8 percent of lawmakers being female, a significant increase from 2014 when the figure was just 30 percent. A number of women are in high profile positions, for example, the President of the Senate is 28-year-old Adriana Salvatierra. 

Elsewhere in the region, Cuba has the highest number of women in parliament with 53.2 percent, while Brazil has the lowest rate of female lawmakers, with just 11.3 percent of them being women.

Monica Novillo, director of Bolivia’s Women's Coordinator praised the figures but said female candidates must not face discrimination, saying “We will remain on alert and we will also be attentive to possible situations of harassment and political violence that could occur towards the [female] candidates. In fact, we warn that some female candidates are already the target of attacks on social media.”

Political harassment against women has long been an issue in Bolivian politics. During the 2015 regional elections, La Paz almost elected its first female governor, Felipa Huanca, an Indigenous woman from the ruling MAS.

However, during the campaign, a number of male opposition politicians made spurious allegations of corruption which were disproven after the elections. Speaking to Redfish, Huanca made clear that this was because she was a woman, and has faced sexist abuse throughout her time in politics. 

Bolivia’s general elections will take place on October 20, an opposition poll published Sunday night put Evo Morales and the MAS in the lead with 37 percent, and right-wing opposition candidate Carlos Mesa and his ‘Citizens Community’ party at 26 percent.

Morales has in the past scored first-round victories, scoring more than 50 percent of the votes. Under Bolivian law, a first-round victory is achieved by winning a 50-percent majority of the votes or winning 40 percent of the votes with a 10-percent lead over the nearest rival.

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