It may be a rhetorical flourish, but President Jovenel Moïse said on International Women’s Day that the forthcoming electoral decree would reserve 30 percent of the posts for women candidates, according to Radio Métropole.

If the president carries out his intentions, that would be thirty-six women members of the lower chamber (up from three in the last parliament) and six women senators (up from one), for a total of forty-two women members. As of last summer, our women’s project in Haiti was grooming forty-five women candidates for these posts. And we had 1,549 non-candidate helpers. These numbers increased. But now we are losing candidates because of weak funding and infrastructure and the attack on our national coordinator.

There are also, of course, question marks about the president’s promise. As he spoke, his own cabinet of eighteen had only three women. The 30-percent rule is supposed to apply there as well. These three were not in prominent ministries.

Also, the president has less than eleven months before his time is up. Unless he overstays, any of his decrees could be superseded. He has not yet actually issued this electoral decree nor formed an election commission. It usually takes Haiti years, not months, after promulgation of the electoral law to hold an election.

(Later note: The number given above of six women for the senate assumed that the election would be held well before the term of the remaining ten senators expires. By mid-April 2020, that was looking unlikely. )