San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Congressmen Mock Plans for Female Assembly Leadership

FOR the first time in history, thecountry’s 20 female legislators are tryingto unite across party lines and take overleadership in the Legislative Assembly,but their plan has been met with jokesfrom their male counterparts.The female legislators have met duringthe past two weeks to discuss a ballotconsisting of all women to contendfor president, vice-president and the fourother director positions of the legislature.“We are not meeting just to select anall-female ballot, but rather to come to aconsensus between parties and create anattitude of tolerance to work and understandthe diverse interests so that we canfinally move forward with all of theimportant work of the Assembly,” saidSocial Christian Unity Party (PUSC)legislator Gloria Valerín.Upon learning of the meetings, someof the assembly’s 37 male legislatorsbegan mocking the plan, calling it a“bridal shower,” legislator EpsyCampbell, legislative head of the CitizenAction Party (PAC), told the daily LaNación. One male legislator, whom shedid not name, said he was “going tobecome a lesbian” so he could join theeffort, she added. Citizen Action hasannounced it will vote for a female ballot.It is made up of eight legislators, includingfive women.The National Women’s Institute(INAMU) this week congratulated thefemale effort, which crosses party lines.In an official statement, INAMU officialssaid it “strengthens the advance ofwomen,” and “in recent years Costa Ricahas made important advances… but pendingchallenges still exist.”Much discrimination still exists in theassembly, Valerín agreed.“Why, when we have a record numberof women in the assembly (35%), havewe never had a year with a woman aspresident or vice-president?” she asked.The legislative vote for the assembly’sleaders for the 2005-06 year will be May1. The various directorate positions arevoted on individually.

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