Women's equal political participation

 Temporary special measures, including different forms of “quotas,” are still needed in the Arab region to guarantee women’s representation in major legislative and governance bodies. Photo: UNDP Algeria

Ensuring women’s and men’s equal participation in governance processes and the decisions that affect their lives are vital for achieving inclusive and effective governance. However, despite some progress, globally women remain under-represented in all aspects of political life.

The UNDP Strategic Plan and its Gender Equality Strategy 2014-17 prioritise women’s participation in decision-making and leadership. UNDP advocates for women’s political rights, supports policy formulation and supports countries to implement international, regional and national commitments on women’s participation in decision-making.

Facilitating women’s access to opportunities and skills to exercise their political rights, participate in decision-making, exercise leadership, and contribute to political processes is central to UNDP’s work, and includes:

  • Promoting women’s participation as voters and candidates in electoral processes and institutions through women’s candidate training, awareness campaigns, building the capacities of electoral management bodies (EMB), including by promoting gender parity and encouraging  gender equality in appointment of EMB Commissioners.
  • Promoting the use of Temporary Special Measures, including gender quotas, which remain one of the most effective ways to accelerate women’s equal participation and decision-making.
  • Facilitating the inclusion of women and women’s organizations and networks in constitution-making processes, and helping them to address gender discriminatory clauses in constitutions.
  • Supporting women’s coalitions to work more effectively within and with political parties and representative bodies.
  • Encouraging political parties to: (i) remove all barriers that discriminate against the participation of women, (ii) develop their capacity to analyse issues from a gender perspective and develop gender-sensitive election manifestos, and (iii) adopt policies and/or quotas to promote the ability of women to participate fully at all levels of decision-making within those political parties.
  • Promoting coalition building and networking among women representatives and decision-makers to strengthen women’s influence up and down the decision-making chain.
  • Supporting gender sensitive parliaments through induction training for MPs on gender issues, mainstreaming gender impact reviews into parliamentary committee work, gender analysis of proposed laws, the introduction of tools for gender-sensitive budgets, support for cross-party women’s caucuses, and women’s mentoring programmes.

UNDP collaborates with women’s networks and academia; and works closely with its sister agencies including  UN Women, the UN DPA, OHCHR, UNICEF; and inter-governmental organizations such as OSCE/ODIHR; and CSOs working on women’s political participation, including IDEA, USIP and Interpeace, as well as regional and national CSOs.

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