- Educational achievement is close to gender-equal in Mauritius, with slightly more secondary schooling among women than among men (50% vs. 46%).
- Women and men are about equally likely to own a mobile phone and a bank account, but far more men than women report owning a motor vehicle (72% vs. 38%).
- Strong majorities say women should have the same rights as men to get paying jobs (67%) and to own and inherit land (91%).
- A large majority (83%) of Mauritians say women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office.
- Citizens say gender-based violence and a scarcity of women in influential positions in government are the most important women’s rights issues that the government and society must address.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) say the Mauritian government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women. Urban residents (56%) and poor citizens (54%) are less likely to approve of the government’s performance.
Mauritius’ new National Gender Policy (2022-2030) provides a framework for collective action by public- and private-sector stakeholders to achieve gender equality, empower women and girls, and ensure their full enjoyment of all human rights (Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, 2022).
In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 5, the policy outlines the government’s commitment to gender equality as a development and human rights concern. Among its objectives, the policy aims to promote inclusion of gender equality in legislation and policies, to ensure equal participation of women in decision making at all levels, and to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence.
The government is also drafting a gender equality bill designed to accelerate the country’s progress toward gender equality in the social, economic, and political arenas (Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, 2022).
Despite the government’s efforts, gender equality remains an unfinished agenda in Mauritius. In 2021, Mauritius ranked in the lowest-performing third (110th among 156 countries) on the Global Gender Gap Index (World Economic Forum, 2021). Only 20% of seats in Parliament are held by women – below average both globally and in sub-Saharan Africa (IPU Parline, 2022; World Economic Forum, 2021). Women make up only 40% of the country’s labour force and are unemployed at higher rates than men (10.6% vs. 8.1%) (Statistics Mauritius, 2021).
This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2022) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender equality in control over assets, hiring, land ownership, and political leadership. A separate dispatch will report findings on gender-based violence.
In Mauritius, strong majorities express support for women’s right to equality in hiring, in land ownership, and in political leadership. But substantial minorities also consider it likely that a woman might suffer criticism, harassment, or family problems if she runs for elected office.
A majority of Mauritians approve of the government’s performance in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women, although many say greater efforts are needed. Citizens say gender-based violence and a dearth of women in influential government positions are the most important women’s rights issues that the government and society must address.