From where I stand: Lucía del Socorro Basante
I was scared to become a candidate [in the Department of Nariño, Colombia], despite all my years of experience as a lawyer. Fear paralyses you. The fear that male councillors will raise their voices, the fear of not being capable, of being in men’s territory. More is demanded of us and we are fewer, because we have fewer opportunities. You can feel the weight of the machismo—I feel it!
UN Women’s project gave us insight into the reality of women’s participation in local politics, through figures and statistics, highlighting why there are no women in the Assembly, why in the Pasto Municipal Council there is only one and in a number of municipalities in the Department [State] there are none, and why we only have one female senator and one representative in Parliament. The different socioeconomic causes: fear and that ingrained sense of absolute responsibility for the home as if we didn’t have partners. These are all preconceptions that can be broken!
I ran as a candidate and I won! The process has been really successful in Nariño, with seven women reaching city halls. We didn’t manage to get any into the Provincial Assembly but we must now push for the Senate too and strengthen existing leaders. Local authorities should support this process in their development plans, generating spaces for female participation. The law should be changed—there should be 30 per cent participation of women elected, not just on lists. If not, there’s no difference. Knowledge and freedom of speech will help us break the chauvinist tendencies that are so powerful in our country.”
Lucía del Socorro Basante, 60, is a lawyer and the only woman Councillor in Pasto, in the Department of Nariño, Colombia. She was elected in October 2015, shortly after obtaining the Political Leadership with a Gender Perspective diploma developed by UN Women and provided to 143 people, primarily women, in the municipalities of Pasto, Ipiales and Tumaco. Her work is related to Sustainable Development Goal 5, which seeks to ensure full and effective participation of women and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.