Lobbying for a gender balance

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP

Through a series of programmes focused on increasing the representation of female MPs, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association recognises the important role women play in advancing democracy.

As well as the establishment of the then- Empire Parliamentary Association, now the CPA, the year 1911 saw the observance of the first International Women’s Day. Last year, therefore, marked not only 100 years of international parliamentary diplomacy, but also a century of collective international ef­fort promoting gender equality – a milestone celebrated in the Commonwealth’s 2011 theme of ‘Women as Agents of Change’.

As an organisation that subscribes to the Commonwealth’s values of development, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, CPA UK sees the role of women in parliament – and parliaments’ impact on women throughout society – as a key pri­ority in its parliamentary strengthening work. Programmes focusing on female participation in the political process have long been a cornerstone of the associa­tion’s activity, reflecting the position of the Commonwealth Women Parliamen­tarians group at the heart of the CPA.

This year’s headline event for CPA UK will be the International Parliamentary Conference on Gender and Politics in No­vember. As part of the association’s ongo­ing commitment to undertake more work in partnership, thereby increasing efficiency and expertise, the conference is being run in conjunction with the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organisation for which women’s status in politics and so­ciety is also very much a priority.

Up to 120 international parliamentar­ians will be invited to the three-day con­ference, which will include plenary ses­sions, workshops and working groups. With a view to reinforcing the long-term impact and influence of the event, outputs will include recommendations for MPs in addressing a gender balance in politi­cal decision-making, a communiqué and ongoing dialogue between delegates in an online alumni forum.

CPA UK has also run a series of success­ful parliamentary strengthening programmes for women parliamentarians. Notable recent examples include the first phase of a trilat­eral programme for women parliamentarians from Pakistan and Afghanistan held in West­minster, an in-country knowledge-sharing seminar in Kenya, in conjunction with the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), and a Westminster-based pro­gramme for Tanzanian women parliamen­tarians. These events, each with a clearly defined set of objectives, combined targeted briefings with peer-to-peer exchanges and dialogue, with the overall aim of increasing effectiveness in oversight, advocacy, deci­sion-making and representation.

As well as being the primary focus of a significant proportion of CPA UK pro­grammes, gender-related topics are an un­derpinning theme throughout all its work. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, creating sustainable communi­ties to ensure food security and combat climate change, and peacebuilding and conflict resolution are just a few of the el­ements that require specific focus on the role of women.

With continued emphasis on long-term programmes and parliamentary strength­ening partnerships, CPA UK is confident that its gender-related work will have a lasting and far-reaching impact.


Post a comment

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Amnesty International