Defensoría backs law that mandates gender parity

The Defensoría de los Habitantes has filed a brief in support of law 8901 that mandates equal representation of men and women on the board of directors of associations and labor unions and employee organizations.

The law is being challenged in the Sala IV constitutional court. Costa Rica already operates under election rules that require political parties to offer election slates that are balanced between men and women. The execution of that law has been criticized recently because many women end up being deputy mayor with few official functions.
The new law 8901 has had unintended consequences. The Dirección Nacional de Desarrollo de la Comunidad had declined to enroll 29 associations that are involved with the Centro de Educación y Nutrición and the Centro Infantiles de Atención Integral. These are like Head Start programs that help children from poorer families. They also provide food. For a brief period these centers could not operate.

The appeals of the law to the constitutional chamber cite liberty of association in that the law limited the autonomy of private groups. The Defensoría contends in its filing that the goal of eliminating discrimination against women is a human rights goal above the Costa Rican Constitution.

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