Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has released the official list of the presidential and legislative candidates.
There are less than 40 days to election day in the Central Africa state in the poll set for November 28.
According to the list released by CENI chairman Daniel Mulundaongo, 11 candidates will be running for president while a whopping 18,500 candidates will be contesting for the 500 legislative seats.
It means an average of 37 candidates will be competing for one legislative seat.
Women aspirants are less than the previous election, though given the higher cumulative totals this year, the averages looks more or less constant.
The current numbers show only 2,200 women aspirants for the National Assembly whereas in 2006, there were three women presidential candidates and around 1,000 others, out of 9,700 aspirants, competed for legislative seats.
According to Ms Rose Nseliane, a rights activist, the poorer representation of women in the electoral process was mainly due to cultural handicaps and low education.
“DRC women are not able to get rid of cultural gravity and customs which confine them to subordinate roles. Most of them are under-educated and generally do not vote for other women,” she argued.
Even with their relatively impressive show as candidates in the 2006, only 42 women were elected to the 500-member Parliament.
The constitution nominally recognises the right of women to hold a minimum of 30 per cent seats in the Parliament. Yet such a percentage has never been reached.
Some women rights organisations had signed a petition urging President Joseph Kabila and the Parliament to vote in more affirmative action laws for national institutions.
“We noticed that the current democratic electoral approach does not favour the development of women in the political sector.
‘‘We need a sort of affirmation action in favour of DRC women,” said Ms Rose Magwabowa, an activist from Kisangani in eastern DR.
DRC women form 52 per cent of the entire population.
But whether they will vote for their own is a matter that remains to be seen.