Community of Practice Meeting on Electoral Support in Asia: A Key Start to the Political Empowerment of Women in Mongolia

“Women’s battle for their rights took a long time. The Community of Practice (CoP) Meeting on Electoral Support in Asia and its focus on women’s political participation made me further committed to pursuing reform in Mongolia to achieve political equality”.

This was the final note of Mr. Suhbaatar, a Mongolian Member of Parliament following the CoP, a joint undertaking of the Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (under the Global Programme for Electoral Cycle Support) and the UNDP Philipines Country Office, organized from 26-28 September 2011 in Manila, Philippines.

While Mongolia currently has 3 out of 76 members of parliament as women, UNDP Mongolia and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure began a 45 days media campaign on women’s political participation. Through this campaign and the Standing Committee Mr. Subhaatar argued for a greater commitment to the political empowerment of women and pressed for male MPs to act a role model. The end result was that on December 15, the Mongolian Parliament adopted the Bill on Parliamentary Elections that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure had drafted, introducing a mixed electoral system that aims to increase women’s political representation. This was the end of a three year process that UNDP Mongolia had been actively supporting, and the COP came at just the right time to give the process some extra momentum.

Asia has progressed significantly over the last 20 years, with directly elected parliaments in place in all of South Asia, and in most countries in South-East Asia. This progress has meant there has been a growing capacity among these democracies to administer credible election’s, and in doing so to share lessons on electoral administration across the region.

Within this context, the 2011 COP gave electoral management bodies and other electoral stakeholders the opportunity to come together to review and more clearly understand the UN policy on electoral assistance; to share and strengthen the knowledge of participants on patterns of electoral violence and its relations with electoral processes; to support electoral management bodies to deliver professional, transparent and credible national and local elections; and to reduce inequality between men and women in political leadership by advocating for innovative initiatives, in addition to quotas, to increase representation of women in politics.

As a result of the intense discussion at the CoP meeting, the following priorities were agreed on by the participants:

  • The need for better understanding of gender and electoral violence, including a stronger gender mainstreaming and targeted set of interventions/policies to prevent electoral violence throughout the electoral cycle
  • Support the development of a regional consortium dedicated to promoting and building capacities for women’s political leadership
  • Fostering and mentoring a network of women political leaders in the Asia- Pacific region
  • Further the regional exchange and learning regarding political party reforms, codifying experiences and lessons from Asia and the Pacific
  • Codify comparative experience in the use of information technology in electoral systems and process in the region, such as the use of electronic voting machines and biometrics for voter registration
  • Support an in- depth political analysis of political finance and corruption in election management bodies
  • Highlight concerns of Indigenous Peoples through regional convergence