Could Women Votes Tilt the 2015 Elections Balance?

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The high number of the woman candidates in the 2015 race on one hand constitutes a recognition of the women's competence and position in the country's politics and intention by the political parties to collect as many parliamentary seats as possible out of their candidacy, on the other hand.
Twenty-two political parties submitted lists each containing 128 woman candidates, which is equal to 30% of the seats of the National Assembly, in addition to participation, with varied numbers, as candidates for seats in the legislative councils of the country's states. Moreover, a number of women are contesting as independent candidates for the National Assembly and legislative councils of the states, in addition to the fact that yet another number of women are included in the proportional lists submitted by the political parties. Some people consider those figures as unprecedented in the previous elections.
The Constitution of 1998 has granted the woman the right to contesting and voting for the presidential office, something which was regarded as a high leap in the woman's political and legislative participation. Dr. Fatima Abdul Mahmoud benefited from this constitutional right by running in the presidential race in 2010 for her Sudanese Democratic Socialist Union, a party formed by late president Ja'afar Mohamed Nimeiri 1969-1985, and has now stood forward for the country's highest post in the forthcoming elections, describing the election as a constitutional right for all citizens and adding that her candidacy is a drive for empowerment of women. However, independent presidential candidate Mahasin al-Tazy, a former police and security officer, withdrew from the race for personal reasons.
Journalist-cum-political analyst Abdulla Adam Khatir considers participation by women in parliaments "a political, ethical and historic undertaking dating back to 1964". Raising the rate of the woman's parliamentary representation from 25% to 30% in the next 2015 elections falls in the framework of the context by the political forces, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the opposition seeking their separate goals, Khatir said.

Mahasin Tazi
Mahasin Tazi
Fatima Abdul Mahmoud
Fatima Abdul Mahmoud

He said the NCP consider raising this rate "grapes falling in its basket, while the other political parties take this increase as "a political undertaking" and may provide a wider opportunity for the women of all political parties. In any case, an increase in the women's parliamentary seats is a genuine addition to the parliamentary and political activity as, by her natural structure, the woman is usually concerned with the day-to-day living.
Dr. Omar Awadalla al-Jiaid, the decentralized government expert and former Director-General of the National Training Center, has shown reservation over increasing the rate of proportional representation of the woman up to 30% and over her right to the candidacy in the constituencies of the proportional representation of the political parties, fearing that this right might be liable to replacements. He advised the woman leaders of the political parties to select highly qualified women who can revive the political and parliamentary activities. Jiaid noted that the Sudanese woman was well ahead of women in many countries of the world as she obtained her voting right in 1954 and candidacy right in 1964, while in Switzerland, for instance, the women were granted the voting right in 1971.
The woman has demonstrated a high efficiency and outstanding that characterized her parliamentary performance at the national and state levels and in the Arab and African forums and with regard to her domestic and external connections, according to Tahani Toar al-Dabbah, the chairperson of the Legislation and Justice Committee of the National Assembly (the parliament). She added that the increase in the proportional representation as a closed list from 25% to 30% as a minimum for the woman in addition to her right contest in the geographic constituencies and party representation lists shows recognition by the political leadership of her efficiency. Dabbah pointed out that the deputy speaker of the National Assembly is a woman while there are several chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of parliamentary committees of the National Assembly, including the Legislation Committee which was led by a woman during this session, describing this committee as of a great importance for the National Assembly.
Dabbah said there is a legislative caucus of the Sudanese woman parliamentarians headed by Samia Hassan Sidahmed who doubles as chairperson of the NCP parliamentary and first deputy speaker of the Arab Parliament.

The Legal Context of the Woman's Election:
Article (32) the Sudan Transitional Constitution of 2005 provides for the woman's rights: "The state guarantees an equal right for men and women of enjoying all civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to equal pay and other occupational privileges". The Constitution also granted the woman the right to participation in formation and joining political parties, thus providing opportunities for all parties to enroll efficient women to their leadership and executive offices and empowering women to take part in making numerous political decisions. In 2007 the women were allocated 25% of the National Assembly and legislative councils of the states in the 2010 elections. The National Elections Law, Amendment 2014, has prompted an increase in her share from 25% to 30% of seats in the National Assembly in addition to her right to nomination in lists of the parties and geographic constituencies and amendment of her share in the lists of the parties from 15% to 20%. The lists of the woman and parties have now become national rather than ones belonging to the states, so as to cope with the duties and jurisdictions of the National Assembly as a national institution.

Ingrained historic contributions by women:
The woman's political involvement in Sudan politics dates back to the Turkish era (1821-1885) during which a number of women gained fame and the Sudanese until now prefer to name their daughters after them in dedication of their heroic roles. An example of those women was Mihairah Bit Abboud who took part in the resistance against invader Ismail Pasha by singing enthusiastic poems to encourage the fighters for driving the invaders back. Another example was Rabhah Al-Kenaiyah who, just after birth-giving, scurried a long distance to inform Mahdi, who was stationed in the Nuba Mountains, of movements of the enemies, enabling him to defeat them in 1881. Yet a third heroine was Bit Al-Mina, a sister of Wad Haboubah, the hero, and her colleagues who extolled the Mahdist leader, her brother, who refused to succumb to the Anglo-Egyptian invaders. She immortalized his staunch bravery while he was being hanged in the market with a poem that was repeated throughout generations.
During the 1920s, the names of the wives of a number of strugglers, like the wives of Ali Abdulatif and Arafat Mohamed Abdulla, who played liaison between members on the underground societies which were opposed to the British colonization.
Tabita Boutros leads a women campaign to support candidacy of Bashir
Tabita Boutros leads a women campaign to support candidacy of Bashir

In the early 1940s, the struggle against colonization was stepped up and the trade unions played a considerable role in the resistance. Providing a new boost to the national movement, woman nurses and teachers joined the trade unions claiming their demands. In the meantime, there were four female students in the University of Khartoum taking part in the political activity of the student union as part of the Sudanese national forces.

Well before the independence, the women demanded their political rights and during elections of the Legislative Assembly in 1954, only the secondary school woman graduates, numbering 20, were granted the right to voting and thus, those graduates participated in the elections. The woman also demanded participation in the first committee which drew up an interim constitution. This demand was granted and Thuraya al-Dirdeery took part in the first constitution committee after the independence in 1956.
Then came the October Revolution of 1964 which overthrew the military rule of

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


Recent tweets

FOLLOW Us On Facebook

Contact Us

Address: Sudan News Agency (SUNA) Building, Jamhoria Street, Khartoum - Sudan

Mobile:+249 909220011 / +249 912307547

Email: info@sudanow-magazine.net, asbr30@gmail.com