April 10, 2023

Ms. Elaine Conkievich, UNDP Mongolia Resident Representative

UNDP Mongolia

Opening remarks by Ms. Elaine Conkievich, UNDP Mongolia Resident Representative

Good afternoon, 

Honorable guests, leaders and representatives of political parties, civil society and media, ladies and gentlemen, 

I like to begin by thanking KOICA-Korea International Cooperation Agency for the immense support to UNDP and our key partners to bring about this momentum for change to support women in decision making. 

And I would like to thank each and everyone of you for being here today to not only discuss why we need equal representation of women and men in decision making in Mongolia but also to solidify your commitment. 

While there has been progress, Mongolia is still far from achieving gender equality in all decision-making levels, particularly, in the Parliament. 

Of the past eight elections, the percentage of elected women Members of Parliament never surpassed 17% which is where we are now today, still below the legally mandated quota of 20 percent and not even close to equality. There has never been a woman President, Prime Minister or Chairperson of the State Great Hural, and only recently has a woman become aimag governor, for the first time in the history of Mongolia. 

As we also saw from the first ever gender equality reports of political parties last week, women are still severely underrepresented at the higher and top decision-making levels within political parties. 

Yet, women comprise 51 percent of the population. 51 percent. 

This picture simply cannot be the reality we accept. We need a concerted effort EVERYWHERE, to do EVERYTHING we can do to bring everyone together ALL AT ONCE to accelerate our progress towards gender equality so that women are equally represented in decision making positions. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Gender equality is not privilege. It is a human right. 

Thus, we must ACT NOW. 

No society can develop and prosper – economically, politically, or socially – when over half of its population, in this case women, are not actively engaged in decision making and are not able to fulfil their full potential. 

The time for mere talk and empty promises about achieving gender equality in decision-making has long passed. Mongolian women still face a steep uphill battle towards securing a seat at table in all decision-making levels including Mongolia’s top legislative body. 

Now is the time to take bold and decisive action to ensure that women, have an equal opportunity to participate in shaping the decisions that affect, not only women, but us all.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Gender equality is also not a women’s issue. It’s an issue for men, as well as women, because it affects us all. 

So, I call on all the male leaders here today, and in Mongolia, to use your influence and capacity to champion gender equality at your respective parties and organizations. 

Political parties are the building blocks of democracy, as you represent the people, and this momentum of change must start with you. 

You all can and must ensure that equality is realized within your parties so that Mongolia can achieve equality in the elected offices and decision-making levels nationally and locally. 

I am also hopeful that you all here today will collectively advocate to ensure that the upcoming amendments of the Law on Political Parties and the Law on Elections play a transformative role in shaping policies for achieving equal representation of women in Mongolia. 

As Mongolia’s political environment is gearing up for the next election where we will see the results of our collective efforts to achieve women’s equal participation in decision making come to a fruition, we must proactively engage with the voters as well. 

Therefore, our project is launching a new advocacy campaign “I will participate and I will represent” nationwide to raise awareness among voters, including youth and women, on gender equality and importance of their role in realizing equality in decision-making in Mongolia. 

In conclusion, please let us applaud and commend the leaders of the political parties who will sign the PLEDGE FOR EQUAL REPRESENTATION IN DECISION-MAKING here today, solidifying your commitment to take action. 

We at UNDP will continue to work with you and all key actors to ensure that Mongolia accelerates its path towards equal representation of women in decision making by realizing the goals set forth in this collective pledge. 

Thank you.