They are three Members of Parliament in Europe who will be working alongside UNDP in Georgia next week to promote gender equality in political participation during a discussion with the country’s political leaders and civil society representatives.
As Georgia prepares for its general election in October this year, the issue of a particularly low representation of women in the national parliament (6.5 percent)is increasingly gaining a magnitude in the country.
The recent introduction of a financial incentive for political parties that include more women candidates in their party lists is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, there is more to be done, and gender equality advocacy of the three male political leaders from the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal can only add value to this development.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to spend two days with these three prominent, political gender equality advocates.
Political parties are key to the transformation of women’s right to participate in political life. Political parties are engaged not only in charting the policy agenda and formulating laws and policies but also recruiting and selecting candidates for elections.
Improvements in gender equality in public decision-making in countries in South-eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia have generally been slow and uneven: Out of 27 countries in the region, 16 countries don’t reach the global average of 19 percent representation in national parliaments with considerable variations, ranging from 6.5 percent to 32.5 percent.
While the equality in number represented in governance institutions is one of the many indicators of gender-responsiveness of governance institutions, it is nevertheless a significant indicator. Equality in voice and participation is a basic principle of democratic governance.
The UNDP report Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties promotes partnering with men as a ticket for improving gender balance in decision-making bodies as well as the creation of an environment of inclusive and gender-responsive political processes.
While we know that each country has to design a context-specific strategy to improve gender balance in decision-making bodies, learning from the first-hand experiences of male gender equality champions from the three neighbouring countries should have an impact on Georgian context.
Moreover, next week’s events in Tbilisi will certainly pave the way for a stronger and more committed network of men and women political leaders in the region.
This can only be good news for the region whose average representation of women in national parliament has been lagging behind the global average for so long.
Can you share some other examples of men who advocate for equality between men and women?