Bringing women into power

By Wang Wenwen in Doha Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/7 19:48:39

Forum aims to bridge gender gap in politics worldwide

Photo: Wang Wenwen/GT

Women politicians from 160 countries gathered in Doha, Qatar at the 140th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Forum of Women Parliamentarians over the weekend to consider ways to encourage more women to enter politics. 

"The world is now about empowering women. It is not only about me, but about all the women that need to raise their voices," said Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the president of the IPU, at the forum.

The IPU, founded in 1889, is the world's  first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations. The IPU Assembly opened on Saturday and will last till Wednesday. It encourages cooperation and dialogue between all nations and has been promoting women in politics since the 1960s.

In 10 years, the percentage of women in parliaments has gone up from 17 percent to 24 percent today. But as women account for about half the world's population, equality is still a long way off, with progress being slowly made.

In the IPU's yearly analysis published in early March, which is based on 50 countries that held elections in 2018, the share of women in national parliaments increased by nearly one percentage point last year, from 23.4 percent in 2017 to 24.3 percent in 2018.

The 0.9 percentage increase, the IPU report concludes, confirms the continuing rise of women in parliament at a slightly faster pace of change compared to previous years. 

Anne Tolley, deputy speaker of the House in New Zealand, said the fact that the prime minister's role is taken by a woman does help promote women's status in politics. 

"It shows that anyone can be inspired to be prime minister, particularly a young prime minister we have at the moment plays a huge model role for young women to get them interested in politics at the first place," Tolley said, referring to New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the world's youngest female head of state.

There have also been positive steps across the world. 

In December 2018, Bahrain's parliament elected a woman as a speaker for the first time. Egypt is also debating a constitutional amendment to set the highest quota for women in parliament. 

The IPU's yearly report noted that the Americas continued to lead all regions in terms of the average share of women in parliament. 

Already in 2018, women candidates in the US broke the records for the number of candidates for governor, US House and US Senate. 

In Asia, women won 22.7 percent of the seats in 2018 elections, increasing the overall share of women in parliament to 19.6 percent. The most notable progress occurred in Bhutan's lower chamber, where seven out of the 10 women standing were elected. 

Dorji Khandu, an MP at the National Council of the Parliament of Bhutan, is optimistic about women's role in future politics.

"In my country, there were issues of gender inequality, discrimination, and social stigma. More women are coming forward and many activists are fighting for women's rights," Khandu told the Global Times.

As for China, women account for 24.94 percent of the total deputies to the Second Session of the 13th National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, which gathered in Beijing in March. The figure is slightly higher than the IPU benchmark.


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