Gender equality and the role of women’s representation on governance and policy making

The UN Agenda 2030 has a special focus on gender equality and also on the role of women in the society, economy and mostly in policymaking.


But we can find the first international legislative initiatives to recognize the role and the importance of women in policymaking at the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The UN Agenda and the Goal no.5 “Gender Equality” has as a main objective to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.


Referred to the UN working paper on “Women’s representation in local government: A global analysis” the proportion of elected seats held by women in local deliberative bodies during the 2020 of the 6.02 million elected members in deliberative bodies of local government counted by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicator in 133 countries and areas as of 1 January 2020 only 2.18 million (36 per cent) are women. This places women’s representation in local government higher than in national parliaments (25 %). To achieve the goal 5 the women’s equal participation in decision making is crucial, mostly the impact on covid 19 response and recovery but according to data dashboard for the SDGs Index during the 2021, gender parity remains far off. Women representation is 25.6% in the national Parliaments, 36.3% in the local government and 28.8 % in the managerial positions but we are not yet close to parity.


One of the best measures to ensure the representation of the women in governance is to undertake legislative initiatives about the gender equality quotas. Countries that have adopted this strategy, have higher representation of women in local government. But it is not sufficient just to have a legal framework to ensure women representation, the election system is important too.


The UN Women work paper underlines that if we compare the three most used election systems,  the majority or plurality systems (using single- member districts); proportional representation systems (using multi-member districts); and semi- proportional or mixed systems it would be clear that the Proportional representation systems correlate with higher numbers of women candidates and elected representatives in parliaments, as multi-member districts may encourage parties to include women in addition to men in the candidate lists because balanced tickets may increase electoral chances.


By comparison, majority/plurality systems in single-member districts may lower women’s representation because male-dominated party selection committees might not select women as sole candidates. According to the statistics of the IPU Parline, Rwanda in the parliamentary election in 2018 has achieved 61.3% of the women representation.


The role of women in the governance and representation of in the policymaking process   is important not only to achieve the target and indicators of the SDGs but better address the problems especially the social and economic one.


The goal of gender equality still remains a challenge for almost all countries. To better address the problems and to achieve the SDG 5, the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has approved the Strategic Plan 2022–2025 (the Strategic Plan) aims to guide UN-Women for the next four years – with an eye toward the 2030 deadline to achieve the SDGs. This strategic plan articulates how UN-Women will leverage its unique triple mandate, encompassing normative support, UN system coordination and operational activities, to mobilize urgent and sustained action to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.


Given the interconnected nature of global challenges, it is important to focus on integrated approaches to address the root causes of inequality and affect broader systems change.


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