Women in Political and Public Life

Section 5: Political Transition

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Section 5: Political Transition

Women’s participation in public and political life is particularly important for consideration in times of political transition, as these moments open opportunities for positive developments in gender equality and ending discrimination against women, but they can also produce negative backlash against women’s human rights. This section highlights how political transitions can affect the status of women in society and affect women’s access to public and political life, including in post-conflict transitions, and transitions to democracy and to liberal market economy.

There is significant variation in how women’s rights are addressed in times of political transition and in how women participate in these transitions, and a number of factors might explain the variation. The presence of strong women’s rights advocates in civil society in alliance with women’s organizations can have a powerful influence on building opportunities for women’s rights and pressuring for egalitarian change. Governments and political parties that are sympathetic to gender equality are important in order to avoid the danger of ineffective tokenism318. The influence of the international context is also important: transnational activist organizing, UN involvement in peacebuilding and state-building, and international human rights law can be significant for post-conflict and newly democratic transitioning countries.

The effective participation of women must be ensured in all aspects of political transition, including peace negotiations, the drafting of new constitutions and other foundational documents, measures to re-build national institutions and measures redressing human rights violations and crimes under international law319. There are persistent obstacles to women’s participation in post-transition political and public life, but women’s participation during these times of change is essential to establishing their legitimacy as political actors. There is a need to encourage states during political transition to push for gender equality in all processes, but there is also an obligation of assisting states to refrain from discrimination against women in their assistance to the transitioning state320.

The international community and international standards on human rights and equality play a critical role during times of political transition. Women’s rights advocates on the ground are strengthened through their alliances with international and regional women’s movements and by the support of international organizations and funding agencies, which promote international normative standards for human rights. Donor approaches to women’s inclusion can be contradictory if donors accept that initial political settlements are negotiated by elites, followed by a subsequent broadening of a political settlement to be more inclusive321. This suggests a tension faced by donors who need to be strategic in promoting normative international commitments, while also being limited by a power-based approach to settlement. Donors need to understand that gender inequality is innately political, and is not a ‘social issue’ to address once the central politics of state-building are confirmed322. Donors should be aware that gender power relations are intimately linked to broader patterns of power and resource distribution in society.

The United Nations has been a key cooperative actor during times of political transition, reporting on progress and limitations in women’s participation in public and political life during times of transition. Studies on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 show that peace missions have achieved little success in greatly improving the participation of women in peace negotiations and agreements with women’s participation generally remaining below 10 percent of those formally involved323. However, more progress has been made in women’s participation in politics, with significant participation of women as voters and as candidates in most countries where elections are being held in the post-transition country324. Missions have experienced varying degrees of success in integrating a gender perspective into DDR programmes and the impact of UN support for gender-sensitive security sector reform has also been mixed.

Transition as the Possibility for Progress or Backlash

An ideology of equality does not always accompany political transitions, which can contribute to a regression in women’s rights during these periods of change. In the case of the transition from socialism to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the initial years after the transformation were characterized by a reversal of equality norms, towards strongly defined separate gender roles for men and women. In Russia, for example, after the transformation, right-wing discourses appeared in the public sphere, which emphasized the ‘cost’ of women’s emancipation and highlighted women’s desire to stay at home and focus on the family as part of women’s ‘natural’ occupation as mothers325. As a result of the rise of these right-wing discourses, emphasizing the division of male and female spheres of life, some feminists have argued that, “Perestroika, though in itself intended to augment the sphere of individual freedoms, represented a period of post-socialist patriarchal renaissance”326. In Eastern Europe during the 1990s, as with the ‘Arab Spring’ more recently, women were actively engaged in the pro-democracy movement, but were then ejected from formal politics after the change of regime.

This dual opportunity for progress and regression in political transitions can be seen in the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East region since 2010. For example, Tunisia is passing through a critical moment for gender equality, where Tunisian women actively participated in the uprisings, but may still face backlash against their rights with the victory of the moderate Islamic party, Ennahda, during the first free election since the uprising against President Ben Ali. Particularly in debates about the role of sharia law in the new constitution, women’s rights activists are concerned about backsliding on key gains for gender equality and have been active in ensuring that constitutional reforms clearly embody the concept and practice of gender equality and non-discrimination in both public and private spheres. For example, in August 2012, thousands of Tunisians protested in the streets over the new constitution that referred to women as ‘partners’ of men throughout the country’s history, sharing ‘complementary’ roles within the family. Due to national and international pressure, this concept was removed from the constitution and the latest version guarantees women’s rights gains and even goes further to combat all forms of discrimination against women.

While political transitions can be a time of opportunity and possibility for advancing women’s rights and gender equality, the possibility of regression can also nullify women’s rights. In Pakistan during a coup regime, when the Huddood Ordinance was passed, rights enshrined in civil family laws were nullified and discriminatory sharia laws were introduced327. In Fiji, the military government is actively discrediting women’s rights organizing, to reinforce patriarchal norms, by refusing to work with individuals and organizations working with ‘active and dissident’ women’s groups; through media attacks against women and women’s groups; and through the exclusion of women from decision-making processes pertaining to the constitutional reform process328. This atmosphere of intimidation significantly hinders women’s ability to claim their rights and stops women’s advocacy efforts on behalf of gender equality and an end to discrimination.

In addition, while women may be very involved in the peace process, they can be excluded once the peace process has ended. In the case of women’s political representation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, women were actively involved in the peace process, but have been sparsely represented in the new political structures. In 2008, women constituted only 13.33 percent of deputies in the House of Peoples and only 11.90 percent of deputies in the House of Representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina329. In the case of the transition in Georgia, the number of women in parliament has also decreased. Even the ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003 did not ensure women’s participation and the power-struggle in Georgian politics has led to many women being discouraged from entering into politics330. In 2008 in Georgia, the overall percentage of women members of parliament had decreased to 5 percent331.

Peace Agreements and Political Settlements

Peace agreements do not completely end conflict, but rather they limit the violent end of conflict and incorporate the conflict within legal and political institutions for management332. When considering post-conflict transitions to peace, women’s political, legal and social gains are determined within the ceasefire and pre-negotiation agreements; in the frameworks for the substantive settling of the conflict; and in the implementation agreement. Thus, women’s participation from the start of these processes is essential to ensure that these political transitions offer opportunity for progress in gender equality and women’s rights. Women’s inclusion in these peace agreement texts is an important starting point for achieving other political, legal and social gains for women, because issues that are not included in an agreement can be difficult to incorporate into the post-agreement phase and can lack donor funding333. Or, for example, if sexual violence issues are not included in a ceasefire agreement, the international peacekeeping force is unable to enforce a ceasefire mandate that includes sexual violations334. Not only should women’s concerns be highlighted within these peace agreements, but also women should be involved in drafting them to ensure full participation.

Political settlements are often gender neutral. This can be problematic because the political settlement effectively sets the framework for state building, so the inclusion of women’s interests is critical if there are to be results that deliver for women335. A number of different contextual and structural factors can help to promote gender inclusive development policies and outcomes during these times of transition, including elite support for gender equality; transnational discourses and advocacy actors that open space for new discussions of gender; the presence of male allies or ‘femocrats’ in state power; policy coalitions that exert pressure on states; and a capable women’s movement336. Together, these factors are important for understanding the possible opportunities and constraints that political transition can have on women’s rights, as the political settlement will be determined by diverse social and political forces in society, and will be characterized by trade-offs by powerful actors. By using a political settlement framework that considers these diverse factors, it is possible to focus on agency and structure, and the interactions between them, in order to better understand how women behave as actors and also the gendered structures within which women function. It can also help to show how women gain inclusion in political transition, and how policy coalitions can be a crucial component in ensuring a gender sensitive post-transitional context337.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 also offers a legal and normative framework for ensuring that women are involved in this essential component of a political transition. Since the passing of UNSC Resolution 1325, the number of references to women in peace agreements has increased significantly, from 11 percent to 27 percent338. Resolution 1325 has particularly had an effect on peace agreements where the UN played a key role as a third-party actor, with references to women rising from 12 percent to 36 percent339. When peace agreements do address women, they tend to address the representation of women in political and legal institutions; women’s involvement in repatriation, resettlement and post-conflict reconstruction; local women’s peace initiatives; and the issue of sexual violence against women340.

Despite progress that has been made, there is little evidence of systematic inclusion of women in peace agreements or systematic treatment of gender issues. Some references to women are also ambiguous in terms of gains for women’s rights. For example, quotas limiting women’s participation, or references to women that reinforce gender-based stereotypes of women as mothers or as victims, can be detrimental to women’s rights and gender equality goals. While the inclusion of women’s rights issues is an essential first step to women’s greater participation and empowerment in post-transition society, barriers to inclusion and gender equality can remain in spite of women’s inclusion. Furthermore, even when constitutional or legislative change occurs, laws are often not passed due to a lack of resources and skills, limited legal literacy and limited access to the justice system.

Constitution-Building in Times of Transition

In both transitions to democracy and post-conflict transitions to peace, women’s role in the process of constitution-building is essential to create opportunities for progress in women’s rights and gender equality in society. For example, in the African region, ten out of fourteen post-conflict countries have gender equality clauses, whereas only eleven out of thirty-two non-post-conflict countries have such a provision341. Some of the most explicit wording regarding women’s rights can be found within post-conflict constitutions, and this can lead to significant gains for women. For example, many post-conflict countries in Africa have included explicit quotas or calls for increased representation of women, which has resulted in Africa having some of the highest representation of women in parliaments in the world342. In Rwanda, over 56 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women, and women hold over thirty percent of legislative seats in Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, South African, Tanzania and Uganda343. Furthermore, women’s participation in the rebuilding of Iraq led to the inclusion of a gender quota in the new constitution, and in 2001, the UN transitional administration in Timor-Leste worked to ensure women’s participation in the country’s first election for the constituent assembly, and with it, women’s representation increased to 21 percent344.

The significance of gender equality in new and reformed constitutions can play a crucial role in providing a legal basis and legitimacy for women’s rights advocacy and to influence the content of gender policy in the aftermath of transition. Constitutional language that defines women’s rights influences the content of legislation, in part, because where explicit egalitarian constitutional provisions are present, women’s movements can use them as a legal tool to fight gender discrimination. Where constitutional provisions are weak, or where they reinforce traditional, stereotypical gender roles, women’s movements may have greater difficulty in pursuing policies that impact gender equality345. Research on constitution making during transitions in South Africa and Botswana suggest that the egalitarian constitutional provisions in South Africa provided the women’s movement with the space to proactively address gender equality and discrimination, but in Botswana, with limited constitutional equality rights, the women’s movement were more limited in their ability to pursue policies to advance women’s rights346.

CEDAW and other international human rights treaties have played an important role in constitution-making and in the interpretation of women’s rights during political transitions. CEDAW has been used as a direct or interpretive source, and the use of CEDAW committee materials, such as general recommendations, concluding observations and optional protocols have impacted the drafting and interpretation of domestic constitutional guarantees of gender equality347. In Nepal, for example, a partnership initiative between local activists, lawyers, parliamentarians and public officials, and facilitated by UNIFEM and UNDP, contributed to the process that led to a draft gender-responsive constitution that assessed the extent of the compatibility of the new constitution with CEDAW348.

Reparation and Remedy in Times of Political Transition

Another important consideration during political transitions is remedy and reparation for women. Violations against women during authoritarian rule or in times of conflict are connected to political and structural inequalities that women face, and reparations can lead to the enablement of active participation of women in public and political life. The Inter-American Commission, for example, recognizes that the existence of effective remedies is essential to guaranteeing political rights, such as the right to political participation349. States have an obligation under international law to make reparations for human rights violations, and the right of individuals to remedy and reparation for the violation of their human rights is increasingly recognized, in multiple treaties including the ICCPR, CEDAW, HRC General Comment No 31 and various other international declarations350. The right to remedy requires equal and effective access to justice and adequate, effective and prompt reparation for violations. Types of reparation can include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition351.

Reparations should be ‘transformative’; bearing in mind the context of structural discrimination that caused a violation, reparations must be designed to change and rectify the situation for women352. As the Nairobi Declaration of Women’s and Girls’ Right to Remedy and Reparation (2007) states: Reparation must go above and beyond the immediate reasons and consequences of the crimes and violations; they must aim to address the political and structural inequalities that negatively shape women’s and girls’ life”353. While remedy and reparation can enable women’s active participation in political processes, they can be particularly challenging in contexts of political transition because of significant barriers resulting from a lack of access to justice. A lack of adequate judicial mechanisms for the protection of rights; limited financial resources; lack of institutional capacity; or instability and a lack of security can all hinder the ability to ensure remedy and reparation.

Women may find it particularly difficult to access transitional justice when there is a climate of impunity in the justice system of a country, and as a result of the high rates of poverty among women in many transitional states. This poverty may result from the fact that women are unable to access land and resources because of their lack of inheritance rights or rights to land and resources. The case of the ‘half widows’ in Kashmir illustrates this challenge: the husbands of these women have ‘disappeared’ but have not yet been declared deceased, and because of existing legal and judicial processes that subordinate women’s rights to the rights of their husbands, these women are deemed ineligible for pensions and other governmental relief354. This example not only illustrates the severe economic hardship that women can experience in the face of barriers to transitional justice but it also demonstrates the important links between women’s rights and development goals.

Countries are increasingly recognizing that women should be part of all transitional processes and that reparation includes access to remedies, unbiased investigation of all war crimes, and redress for victims. For example, both Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands have established Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and the final report on Timor-Leste included a dedicated chapter on sexual violence, indicating that gender-based violence was taken seriously, with gender also being mainstreamed throughout the entire report.

Feminist scholars have raised questions about whether women equally participate and benefit from transitional justice processes in various countries. For example, transitional justice processes may emphasize the civil and political rights of an individual over economic, social and cultural rights, which, in many cases, are the rights violations that women are more likely to experience355. Transitional justice processes such as truth commissions are also not often connected to formal legal systems, which could lead to the necessary reform of laws that perpetuate the discrimination against women356. Women may differently experience violence from men in conflict and these differences are not always reflected in the mandates of transitional justice mechanisms and processes, which can effectively rule out women from accessing justice for the violation of their rights. Not only does this contribute to the reinforcement of gender inequality in society, but also it can significantly hinder progress in development, because of the underlying impact of this discrimination on women’s participation in social, economic and political life.

The Impact of Religion in Times of Political Transition

National identities are often intensively re-negotiated in a highly polarized political context during times of political transition and religion is integral to national identity. There is indication in the reports from all regions that the involvement of religious institutions in political life, and especially in times of political transition, has a negative impact on women’s equal right to participate in political and public life and can contribute to a backlash against gender equality goals in policy and law.

Even in Latin America, where the Catholic Church has always played an important role in the defense of human rights on behalf of those politically persecuted during the repressive regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, this support for human rights more generally intersects in ambiguous ways with women’s rights, because the Catholic Church has historically also supported norms and practices of patriarchal culture.

In Eastern Europe, the relationship between the churches and state institutions differs depending on the country in question. In Poland, the Catholic Church stood with the opposition under the totalitarian regime and, during the transformation, continued to exercise pressure with regard to legislation, with a particular focus on reproductive rights. In other countries, the rise of the Church during the transition to democracy was connected to their alliance with institutions of power. For example, in Russia, the Orthodox Church is strongly allied with the ruling party. Close ties between churches and state institutions can lead to attempts to limit the rights of women and to strengthen the right-wing discourses that limit women’s opportunities in public and political life.

Section 6: Conclusion

This report has highlighted and synthesized global information on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, within the realm of political and public life. It has examined issues of women’s equality and empowerment in relation to their status as full and equal citizens in different political systems, and at different political levels (national, regional, global). It has explored new developments and trends in women’s political participation, in terms of representation, participation and influencing the agenda. The report has highlighted new political arenas for women’s political empowerment, such as ICTs and the use of the Internet, and has examined how key issues relevant to public and political life are especially important for consideration during times of political transition. This concluding section reflects on some key themes that weave throughout the report.

First, while the 1997 CEDAW General Recommendation on public and political life focused narrowly on issues related to formal politics, that is, on the right to vote, the right to participate in policy formulation and implementation, and the right to participate in non-governmental organizations and associations, a vision of public and political life in the future must go beyond the formal sphere, to encompass the spectrum of public and political ideas that range from formal to informal. This is especially the case when considering that new forms of political participation for women often span beyond traditional institutionalized forms of politics. This report shows that considerable progress has been made to improve women’s representation, participation and ability to influence the agenda within formal political processes across all regions. However, the concept of ‘political life’ must be expanded to show that many aspects of personal life, and life in the private sphere, can increasingly be understood to be ‘political’.

Second, any conceptualization of public space must include an understanding of new and expanding spaces in the digital sphere. New technologies for access to public and political life are emerging, and these new forms of communication are creating new modes of political practice. These spaces must be interrogated for their risks and for the opportunities they provide. While ICTs and the Internet can act as tools for coalition-building; the transfer of knowledge; and the projection of voice, allowing for women’s movements to more effectively promote gender equality goals, research on how these technologies can be mobilized is still underdeveloped. More research is needed to consider how these spaces for political action change demands for accountability and affect the outcomes of political mobilization.

Third, there is a need to interrogate how women’s human rights interact with culture and religion, especially within customary legal systems. International human rights laws is increasingly recognizing the need to respect multiple and often overlapping forms of justice, especially in respect to cultural and religious rights, but analysis is needed to consider how these concepts interact and what needs are prioritized. This especially speaks to the question of how global human rights concepts become incorporated within domestic legal systems, and how these international standards can be applied with respect to diverse local legal systems. This question is especially pertinent in the context of political transitions, as state-building and peace-building projects engage directly in building judicial institutions. Legal systems and constitutions are an essential framework for ensuring that subsequent progress can be made to advance women’s rights. Discrimination that is institutionalized within laws or the constitution, whether or not it is based on culture or custom, can significantly hinder women’s ability to pressure for change.

Fourth, there is a need to adopt a multi-scalar approach to addressing discrimination against women in public and political life. Specifically, there is an important interaction between the global, regional, national and local levels, which is unprecedented in our time, as a result of advances that have been made in technology and through globalization. This is especially evident in the importance of the transnational women’s right movement to support gender equality. This report has highlighted in all sections the importance of the women’s movement in pushing for change and reform in policy, law and practice. As we consider the significance of the women’s movement and coalition building in efforts to progress women’s rights, we should conceptualize this movement on multiple, intersecting, and interacting levels, as local movements work in collaboration with international efforts.

Finally, an expanded conceptualization of discrimination against women in public and political life must incorporate concepts such as political settlement, state-building, inclusive democracy, transitional justice and constitutional design. Moments of transition in society, whether away from authoritarian rule or from conflict, provide immense opportunity for change and progress in women’s rights and gender equality. However, these moments can be a double-edged sword, and can lead to backsliding if the sufficient factors are not in place to push for progressive change. It is essential that women participate in these transitional processes at all stages to ensure that they contain gender-sensitivity.


There are a number of recommendations that can be derived based on the findings of this global report. Recommendations can be targeted at multiple actors, in order to ensure that good practices can be applied within several political contexts.

Recommendations for Governments

  • Eliminate all continuing discriminatory laws

  • Provide clear and explicit provisions within the constitution and legislation of the State on gender equality and non-discrimination against women

  • Ensure ratification and integration within national law of other relevant international human rights and legal instruments

  • Implement constitutional reform to ensure gender equality framework

    • Ensure an inclusive process and extensive consultation of all stakeholders, including civil society and women’s organizations

    • Emphasize the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination

    • Ensure that the constitution explicitly permits the possibility of taking positive actions to promote gender equality

    • Ensure the constitution corresponds with international legal obligations

  • Improve training on gender equality for practitioners in the field of police, civil servants, and judiciary, and in national education curriculums

  • Ensure gender-responsive national budgets and development plans

    • Ensure that women and men have equal opportunities during election campaigns, such as providing public funding, access to the state media, setting campaign spending limits, and ensuring that campaign finances and expenditures are disclosed

    • Adopt multi-sectoral strategies to improve women’s access to education, employment, health, social security, and other fundamental economic, social and cultural rights

  • Ensure that policies designed to promote women’s participation include accountability measures

  • Involve the media in promoting a culture of gender equality that combats gender-based stereotypes

    • Adopt awareness-raising initiatives in the media to address prevailing gender-based social stereotypes

    • Adopt educational strategies around women’s human rights and women’s role in public and political life

  • Ensure that the condition and position of women who face multiple forms of discrimination improve and take all measures to facilitate the elimination of discrimination against these women.

  • Develop comprehensive data compilation methodology and include relevant sex-disaggregated statistics, to assess trends and impact of programmes.

  • Guarantee that women obtain an adequate legal remedy when their right to participate in public and political life free from discrimination is violated

  • Establish and/or expand skills training and capacity-building for women and girls, and women’s non-governmental organizations on new forms of ICT

  • Ensure accessible, affordable childcare and facilities for women involved in public and political life (and parental leave, where relevant)

Recommendations for Parliaments

  • Finalize the process of withdrawal of the reservations to CEDAW and begin process of legislative reform to meet obligations under CEDAW

    • Bring legislation in the area of marriage, family, inheritance and personal status law in line with international human rights standards

    • Introduce legislation to prevent and protect women from all forms of gender-based violence

    • Improve access and knowledge of CEDAW and its optional protocol

  • Introduce legislation on specific measures aimed at promoting women’s representation in elected public bodies at all levels

    • Remove legislation that may hinder women’s equal participation

  • Implement mechanisms for the monitoring and evaluation of political parties regarding gender policies and practices

  • Seek to achieve gender parity in all decision-making bodies, by establishing incremental time-bound targets for increasing women’s representation

  • Strengthen national women’s machineries to ensure the effective implementation, monitoring and mainstreaming of national, regional and international commitments on gender equality

  • Enact special measures to guarantee women access to the legislature and decision–making positions, including through legislated quotas within a proportional representation system or reserved seats within majoritarian systems with specific and effective sanctions for non-compliance.

Recommendations for Political Parties

  • Develop mechanisms or special measures to increase the number of women in party leadership and decision-making positions

    • Implement effective gender quotas with the aim of achieving equitable representation of women in elected positions

  • Allocate equal and adequate resources for women’s political campaigns and electoral processes

  • Adopt clear and transparent rules to ensure internal democracy, with attention to gender equality

  • Provide clear rules for candidate selection to allow or meaningful input from party members in the process of selecting candidates

  • Promote women’s candidacies through the adoption of special training programmes, recruitment and financial incentives.

Recommendations for Civil Society Organizations

  • Build alliances with men and other women’s organizations to promote women’s participation in public and political life

  • Conduct training on existing national and international legal norms to facilitate their implementation

  • Hold government, legislatures and political parties accountable for progress in increasing women’s participation and representation

    • Develop monitoring plans to evaluate and assess governments of their implementation of commitments related to gender equality

  • Strengthen civic and citizenship training in schools and continuing adult education regarding gender equality and non-discrimination

  • Facilitate women’s education regarding new forms of communication technology such as the Internet and enable women in developing countries to have access to and use of new technologies, for their empowerment.

Recommendations for the United Nations bodies and multilateral/bilateral donors

  • Provide financial and technical support to build women’s capacity for political participation

  • Build partnerships with government, private sector and civil society to advance women’s participation in public and political life

  • Engage in information and data-collection efforts related to women’s participation in public and political life at all levels

  • Promote women’s participation and interests at critical moments in political settlements, and at the highest levels of power.

1 CEDAW General Recommendation No 23 http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/recommendations/recomm.htm#recom23

2 Eyben, “Supporting Inclusive and Democratic Ownership. A ‘How to Note’ for Donors”, Prepared for the OECD DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, Cluster A ‘Ownership and Accountability’, IDS: UK; as cited in Summary of Discussions, “Women’s Political Empowerment: The State of Evidence and Future Research”, September 11-12, 2012.

3 http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/gender-decision-making/index_en.htm

4 MacKinnon, Catharine. Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, Harvard University Press, (1989)

5 IDEA, “Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers” (2005) Revised report. 94

6 Bond, Johanna E. “Constitutional Exclusion and Gender in Commonwealth Africa” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 31, Issue 2. Article 1 (2007).

7 Wilson, Rebekah “Western region” Report to the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice. (hereafter: “Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’”)

8 Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’

9 Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’. For example, women have lost ground in Cyprus, Portugal and Spain where electoral realignments changed (Women in Parliament 2011: The Year in Perspective, IPU, pg.5)

10 As noted by CEDAW in concluding reflections, e.g. on Guyana, July 2012

11 Equality in Politics: A Survey of Women and Men in Parliaments, International Parliamentary Union, 2008 Page 72

12 ECLAC, Women’s Contribution to Equality in Latin America and the Caribbean, Tenth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, Quito, August 6, 2007, p. 55. As cited in Celorio, Rosa, “Latin America and the Caribbean Report” Report to the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice (hereafter: “Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’”)

13 ECLAC, Caribbean Synthesis and Review and Appraisal Report in the Context of the 15th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, LC/CAR/L/259, May 14, 2010. As cited in Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.

14 See, for example, the case of a 2008 EU sponsored report and workshop in Malta that found that “…when it comes to promotion and commitment to their career, most females decline or are sidestepped, because they still have a young family to care for. This all boils down to the sharing of domestic duties, it these are really shared equally, then the women would not be seen as the only person with heavy commitments in the family” (Break Gender Stereotypes, Give Talent a Chance, European Commission 2008. Available at www.businessandgender.eu/products/national-review-files/malta-review) in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

15 Priya, S.K. “Asia Pacific Region” Report to the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice (hereafter: “Priya, S.K. ‘Asia Pacific Report’”), citing a new image, typical of patriarchal discourse - a blushing bride, a mother sitting by the cradle, an elderly woman surrounded by numerous relatives, and a woman running her home.

16 Priya, S.K. ‘Asia Pacific Report’

17 Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and its consequences, “Report of the Special Rapporteur” (A/HRC/17/26) 2 May 2011.

18 As stated in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’ with regards to women from BME groups.

19 Belgium CEDAW country report: 22/06/2007: (Page 100), as cited in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

20 Priya, S.K. ‘Asia Pacific Report’

21 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention Belem Do Para” June 1994.

22 Tripp, Aili Marie, “Women and Constitution-Making in Africa” Presentation to the Working Group, (10/3/2012)

23 Tripp, Aili Marie, “Women and Constitution-Making in Africa” Presentation to the Working Group, (10/3/2012)

24 Castillejo, Claire. “Women’s Political Participation and Influence in Sierra Leone” FRIDE Working Paper 83, June 2009.

25 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 1993. The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes, and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo, will devote her 2013 report to the issue of ‘state responsibility for eliminating violence against women’, highlighting the concept of due diligence.

26 IPU “The World of Parliaments” IPU Quarterly Review, December 2009, No 36.

27 Frances Raday, concept note definition

28 This provides in its preamble that there is a need “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.”

29 Providing in article 1 that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Article 2 to the enjoyment of the rights contained within the Declaration “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

30 See, e.g., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 3 and 25 and General Comments 25, 28, and 34 of the Human Rights Committee; International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Article 3 and General Comments 16 and 20 of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee. In particular, Article 25 of the ICCPR states: “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without reasonable restrictions : a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives ; b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors ; c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country”

31 Other human rights treaties tackling elements of discrimination against women include the 1967 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, the Migrant Workers Convention, 1990, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, provide for non-discrimination and gender equality before the law, as relevant to public and political life.

32 Seven UN member states have not signed or ratified the treaty, including Iran, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tonga and the United States.

33 See Articles 1 and 2 of CEDAW. CEDAW defines discrimination against women on the basis of sex and gender; systemic, past and present discrimination; direct and indirect; de jure and de facto; and examines key actions which discriminate, the causes and effects (see Art 1).

34 Article 7 explains: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right: a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all public elected bodies; b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government; c) To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.”

35 Article 8 explains: “State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.”

36 See, generally, United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation No. 23, Political and Public Life, HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (1997).

37 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23 on political and public life (1997) paragraph 5.

38 Article 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

39 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General Recommendation 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, October 19, 2010, para. 22.

40 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General Recommendation 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, October 19, 2010, para. 22.

41 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General

Recommendation 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, October 19, 2010, paras. 6-9.

42 Mangubhal, Jayshree, Aloysius Irudayam, Emma Sydenham “Dalit Women’s Right to Political Participation in Rural Panchayati Raj: A Study of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu” IDEAS, Justitia et Pax, Equalinrights, 2009.

43 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General Recommendation 25, Temporary Special Measures, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/2004/I/WP.1/Rev.1, 30 (2004)

44 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General Recommendation 25, Temporary Special Measures, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/2004/I/WP.1/Rev.1, 30 (2004), para. 22.

45 IACHR, The Road to True Democracy: Women’s Political Participation in the Americas (2011); IACHR, Annual Report 1999, Considerations regarding the compatibility of affirmative action measures designed to promote the political participation of women with the principles of equality and non-discrimination, Chapter V. As cited in Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.

46 United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), General Recommendation 25, Temporary Special Measures, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/2004/I/WP.1/Rev.1, 30 (2004), paras. 12-13.

47 This paragraph on temporary special measures are the ideas of Eleanora, from the WG.

48 http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/report_on_positive_action_final_en.pdf

49 G. Selanec, Gender quotas – Ensuring full equality in practice between men and women . Presentation in power point based on the draft o f the executive summary of the report “Positive Action Measures to Ensure Full Equality in Practice between Men and Women, including in Company Boards”, elaborated by European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality, http://www.lavoro.gov.it/NR/rdonlyres/8D50B01E-0A14-457D-9C7D--9B76E5A70F40/0/2011_11_25_5_Gender_Equality_Bodies_Selanec_25_11_11.pdf

50 See Sandra Fredman, ‘Reversing Discrimination’, 13 L. Q. R., p. 575 and Marc de Vos, Beyond Formal Equality – Positive Action under Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78, European Commission, 2007 available on http://www.migpolgroup.com/public/docs/‌14.Thematic_report_Beyond Formal Equality_EN_06.07.pdf

51 G. Selanec, Gender quotas – Ensuring full equality in practice between men and women , op.cit.

52 D. Dahlerup, Women, Quotas and Politics. London; Routledge 2006, p. 19-21 http://www.quotaproject.org/aboutQuotas.cfm

53 Three key themes of the Beijing Platform for Action support gender equality in public and political life in particular: a) Women in Power and Decision-Making; b) Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; and c) Women and the media.

54 Other relevant Agreed Conclusions of the CSW include 1999/2: Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; 2003/44: Participation in and access of women to the media, information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women; and 2006: Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels.

55 UN Security Council ‘ Resolution 1325 (2000)’ 31 October 2000, (S/Res/1325/(2000)

56 Article 119 EEC Treaty, now Article 141 EC Treaty, in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’

57 Article 2 EC Treaty, in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

58 As stated in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

59 Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

60 Athens Declaration 1992, available at http://www.eurit.it/Eurplace/diana/ateneen.html, as cited in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

61 As cited in Wilson, Rebekah ‘Western Region Report’.

62 IACHR, The Road to Substantive Democracy: Women’s Political Participation in the Americas (2011), para. 20; IACHR Annual Report 1999, Considerations Regarding the Compatibility of Affirmative Action Measures Designed to Promote the Political Participation of Women with the Principles of Equality and Non-Discrimination, Chap. VI, C.1., as cited in Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.

63 See also, Article 28 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which provides that “States shall promote the full and equal participation of women in the political structures of their countries as a fundamental element in the promotion and exercise of a democratic culture.” The Inter-American Democratic Charter was approved at a first plenary session of the OAS General Assembly held on September 11, 2001 as cited in Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.

64 Abi-Mershed, Elizabeth. “What does the [IACHR] system have to offer as a whole?” Presentation to the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice.

65 See American Declaration of the rights and Duties of Man (1948), Articles II and XX; American Covention on Human Rights (1969), Articles 1.1 and 23.

66 Inter-American Democratic Charter. Adopted at the first plenary session of the OAS General Assembly, held September 11, 2001, Article 9. As stated in Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.

67 Inter-American Democratic Charter. Adopted at the first plenary session of the OAS General Assembly, held September 11, 2001, Article 9.

68 Consensus of Quito (2007), resulting from the Tenth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. As cited by Celorio, Rosa ‘LAC report’.


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