New York, US (PANA) - Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), on Friday highlighted the role of quotas to accelerate women’s political participation, saying more hands-on measures are needed to achieve significant progress on this issue.
"Today I call for stronger commitment by leaders to increase women’s participation in politics,” Bachelet said at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York.
She encouraged countries to use quotas to expand women’s participation in parliament noting that it is also good to open public debate about the right of women to take part in
government and to hold public office.
She said that democracy grew stronger with the full and equal participation of women.
The UN official disclosed that the Women in Politics 2012 report, produced by UN Women in conjunction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), maps the progress of women’s political participation around the world in the past year.
Bachelet stressed that quotas have had a positive effect on increasing women’s involvement in politics, saying that out of the 59 countries that held elections last year, 17 of them had legislated quotas and In those countries, women gained 27 per cent of parliamentary seats compared to 16 per cent in countries without quotas.
She said that the report showed that the number of elected women Heads of State
and Government had increased from eight in 2005 to 17 in 2012, with the number of women ministers also increasing from 14.2 per cent in 2005 to 16.7 per cent today.
Scandinavian countries have the highest percentage of women ministers at 48.4 per cent, followed by the Americas at 21.4 per cent and sub-Saharan Africa at 20.4 per cent.
However, the percentage of women parliamentarians stands at 19.5 per cent, which is only a 0.5 per cent increase from last year.
Bachelet also said: "UN Women will support women’s movements, work with parliaments to amend laws to include gender equality perspectives, and support reforms of electoral laws to facilitate the incorporation of women in elections as voters and candidates.
She added that the agency would advise on the adoption of laws that include the quota system, support the training of women candidates, and work with governments to mainstream gender in ministries.
Abdelwahad Radi, President of the IPU, echoed Bachelet’s remarks, stating that the joint report demonstrates that there is still too little participation from women in politics.
"It is essential for all countries to make every effort possible and necessary and to take every opportunity provided to guarantee significant participation of women in politics,” he said.
Radi also stressed that recent changes in the Arab world, the region with the lowest percentage of parliamentary participation, which is only 10.7 per cent, offer an opportunity for women to get more involved in politics as many have participated and driven the civil movements in their countries.
He said countries in transition could very effectively take advantage of reforms to
guarantee strong participation of women in politics.
-0- PANA AA/MA 2March2012