UNDP promotes inclusive and participative parliaments and political parties by ensuring they have the structure, legal framework and capacity to engage all citizens - particularly women - in the political process. UNDP has helps ensure women have the skills and support to work effectively within and with political parties and parliament. 39 of UNDP’s 68 parliamentary strengthening projects specifically promote parliamentary oversight of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The projects include for example gender mainstreaming in parliament (quotas, rules of procedures, etc.), gender legal reviews and promoting gender-sensitive laws, candidate training, induction and mentoring programmes; and awareness campaigns to counter gender stereotyping of candidates.
In Colombia, UNDP participated during 2014 and 2015 in an advocacy strategy, along with civil society organizations and Colombian congresswomen, intended to give constitutional status to the principles of parity, alternation and universality to women political participation. This bill has been approved in its first debate, and UNDP aims to support it until the final adoption of the law. The activities held during this period are related to the fifth SDG, specifically to the target: “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life”.
In Swaziland - Advocacy meetings were also held with the Gender and Children Portfolio Committee and Deputy Prime Ministers Portfolio committee for the enactment of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill 2015. The latter bill has taken over 10 years and being re-tabled for the 5th time in Parliament.
In Nepal – UNDP conducted interaction programme on Role of Parliamentarians on Gender based Violence (GBV). From the interaction, the Parliament members committed to review the policy and ensure the effective implementation of existing law and policies in order to end the GBV.
The project organized a meeting with Female Parliamentarians in which they expressed their views and the possible areas of support for the women parliament members from the project. Based on their needs, the project organized an event on effective communication skills for 22 women parliament members, enhancing the capacity of women parliamentarians to deal with media and making concise and effective communications during the parliament debates.
Since the beginning of the Constituent Assembly in 2008, UNDP provided technical support to the constitution writing process through more than 10,000 dialogues, workshops, and interactions at national and local level, and prepared more than 70 knowledge products. In order to ensure citizens’ participation in constitution making process, UNDP organized more than 200 trainings, workshops, meetings and interactions over 7 years, - 11 in 2015 - for the women and excluded groups to enhance their technical knowledge and leadership skills, which helped them to give voice to their agenda in the CA. This contributed that, the new constitution accepted proportionate inclusion as one of the core principles of the Constitution and the constitution ensures the representation and fundamental rights of women and excluded groups, leaving some provisions aside especially in citizenship provisions. In four months (September to December 2015), the project- immediately after the promulgation of the new Constitution raised public awareness on provisions of the new constitution by organizing 19 civic education events in 10 districts. These events reached 1140 persons. The project also organized interaction between the Parliament members and Women groups as well as with Dalit groups. From the interactions, the groups became more aware of the constitutional provisions especially on dalit and women’ issues.
In Guinea-Bissau, in partnership with the specialized Standing Committee for Women and Children, UNDP contributed to the dissemination of Law No. 6/2014 of February 4 (law against domestic violence) in 7 regions of the country. This resulted in the appropriation/ownership of the Act by the actors participating in the sessions: MPs, judges, regional administrative authorities, defense and security forces, civil society, youth organizations, women's organizations, traditional and religious leaders and student associations. During the dissemination sessions, stakeholders developed a strategy paper on promoting the Act and its inclusion in the plans of activities of institutions, organizations and bodies active in the defense of the cause of vulnerable groups (women and children). This document will be finalized and signed in all regions of the country in 2016. Dissemination / ownership of the law has led to greater awareness of its scope particularly regarding the criminalization of domestic violence. With UNDP technical support and funding of the EU, the People's National Assembly conducted a training for members of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of Guinea - Bissau in gender-sensitive analysis of the state budget. This allowed the network to deepen its knowledge of this issue and present / discuss the data (evidence) that could support gender mainstreaming and integration of gender in the state budget during the parliamentary debates. The leadership training (11-13 May 2016) developed the skills of 8 members of the network members with regards to technical and budget analysis instruments and developing gender-sensitive budgets.
In Moldova - During 2015, UNDP focused on providing support and technical assistance to Parliamentary Committees, MPs and the Secretariat on promoting gender and human rights considerations in domestic legislation, as well as assessed Parliament’s capacities to contribute to effective combatting of corruption. With UNDP’s assistance women MPs established the cross party women caucus – the Women MPs Platform and assisted them in preparing the Strategic Plan. UNDP assisted women MPs facilitate better participation of women in decision-making, and initiated regular policy consultations with underrepresented women. This was achieved through 5 Regional Forums that have debated the issues pertinent to the SDGs framework, where above 200 women preponderantly from vulnerable groups for the first ever time received the opportunity to address their concerns directly to decision-makers. The Forums had been organised in partnership with the joint UNDP/UN Women programme “Women in Politics”. The latter also helped to develop a gender-mainstreamed catalogue of services to be provided by the Parliament’s Regional Offices. UNDP supported a Gender Audit of Parliament and the elaboration of a follow-up Parliament’s Gender Equality Action Plan that is being in the process of the official adoption by the Parliament. The Programme’s advocacy efforts towards strengthening the role of the Parliament in the national anticorruption efforts resulted in the corruption self-assessment of the Parliament based on which the draft Anti-corruption Action Plan of the Parliament for 2015-2018 was developed and a Code of Conduct (Code of Ethics) for MPs was elaborated. In 2015, 73 MPs, 199 parliamentary staffers and 80 personal MP assistants received capacity development trainings organized by the Programme on legislative drafting techniques, human rights and anti-corruption vetting of legislation, on approximation of the legislation with the EU legal standards and on effective communication. As a result of previous support rendered by the Programme, Parliamentary Committees organized independently, using developed by the programme SOP, around 20 public hearings, debates and consultations, as well as 5 field visits on social protection, human rights, agriculture, finance, security and education topics. Women MPs made up at least 40% of members of any study visit delegation and over 50% of participants to all training provided.
During 2015, UNDP provided technical assistance to Women’s MPs in establishing a cross party caucus – the Women MPs Platform (WMPP), as well as in its structuring and institutionalization of work. Specifically, the Programme assisted WMPP develop its Strategic Plan and draft internal regulations. In efforts to facilitate the all-encompassing representation of women in public and political life, the Women’s Platform advocated with the Speaker of the Parliament and Heads of Parliamentary Factions to support the approval of the Temporary Special Measures Law that requires at least 40% of women on any political party’s candidate list. Moreover, the Programme provided WMPP with coordination and administrative support to assist its day-to-day functioning. Other results of the Programme include:
- 55 members of Parliament and staff, including 38 women, were trained on scrutiny of legislation from a gender perspective and on use of gender-disaggregated data, and
- 8 newly elected women received training on law making techniques.
- 13 women MPs had received training on public image and communication and on the use of social media, as a joint effort by the parliament project and UN Women/UNDP Women in Politics programme.
UNDP supported a Gender Audit of Parliament and subsequent Gender Action Plan of Parliament. In follow up to these, the Speaker of the Parliament supported the initiative to institutionalize WMPP and to approve the Gender Action Plan of Parliament. Support related to gender equality and human rights remain a priority and will be integrated in the design and implementation of the future support to the Parliament (2016-2019). Additionally, UNDP assisted in gender mainstreaming of Guidelines for the Parliament's Constituency Offices on organizing Parliamentary Forums.
In Rwanda - Parliament conducted public out-reach for citizens input into draft legislations e.g. 90% of the draft law on matrimonial regimes, family donations and successions was revised; and reviewed the application of gender related laws (GBV, Land laws, and Penal code).
In Kosovo, UNDP provided support to the Gender Equality Committee in drafting the new designs, methods and techniques for monitoring of the law implementation. Socially sensitive laws, such as the Law on Gender Equality, were monitored with a new strategy which implied usage of online self-administered questionnaires for respondents and randomly sampled institutions to be visited by MP’s. This approach has shown to be more time and cost effective and has enabled the Committees to reach in-depth information and data from a broader number of institutions.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Members of the Committee for Gender Equality were made aware of international gender equality obligations (CEDAW, EU others) and the respective national frameworks (Gender Equality Law, Gender Action Plan, Strategy on Combating Gender based Violence, Law on Anti-discrimination, Action Plan for the Implementation of SC Res 1325);
UNDP El Salvador has been providing technical advice to the Parliamentary Group of Women in four areas:
ü Design of legal reforms to improve gender equality: law against family violence, penal code, procedures, family code, social security laws. A reform proposed by the Commission of women and gender equality (established in May 2012) on the law against violence was approved in 2013.
ü Creation of an inter-institutional technical group to review the legal reforms. The group was integrated by the General Prosecution of the Republic, General Attorney, ISDEMU (Salvadoran Institute for Women´s Development) and Supreme Court of Justice.
ü Design of the first Gender Policy and Institutional Plan at the Parliament.
ü Establishment of political participation quota of 30% of women as candidates (national and regional parliament and municipal councils). The law will be applied for the first time in 2015.
ü The new Political Parties Law passed on February 14, 2013 mandates that 30% of a party’s candidates for municipal councils, the national legislature and the Central American Parliament be women.
In Nigeria, UNDP has supported the development of the 2-year strategic plan of Nigeria’s National Assembly Gender Technical Unit (GTU). The GTU supports gender mainstreaming and women’s rights agenda at the Parliament. Its main functions include: to provide accessible resource tools, research materials and skills for the analysis and articulation of gender-sensitive legislations by all law-makers in Nigeria; provide technical support particularly to female legislators to enhance quality participation and contributions to legislative processes; and provide links between legislators and civil society groups, corporate organizations and individuals doing gender work in Nigeria. The institutional capacity building and development of the GTU as well as support for specific activities, as outlined in the strategic plan, have been included in UNDP’s upcoming interventions.
In Jordan, UNDP helped develop a Gender Strategy and Action Plan for the Independent Elections Commission to mainstream gender in the electoral cycle. The Gender Strategy includes a political parties’ legal framework review (including a revision of the internal regulations of parties to promote a greater role for women) and a mapping of women participation in political parties, to inform the legal reform process from a gender perspective, and resulted in the introduction of a list of interventions to ensure active women political participation in political parties.
The action plan to reach out to women and foster their participation in the electoral cycle was successfully implemented. Based on the outreach plan, 271 women were trained on political participation in local governance (ahead of the municipal elections) through 9 workshops organized by UNDP at the local level in partnership with the Jordanian National Commission for Women. The women were trained on their role in the electoral cycle, the role of municipalities in sustainable development, the municipalities’ law, and campaigning strategies for women candidates. UNDP established a forum for women in local communities to discuss issues such as the need to increase women awareness on why and how to participate in local governance and the need for their skill and knowledge building as candidates.
In Lebanon, a working paper was drafted for the Woman and Child Parliamentary Committee (WCPC) on “legislative reforms to lift the discrimination against women” on the occasion of the International Women Day organized by the National Commission for Lebanese Women on the 6th of March 2015 at the Lebanese American University (LAU).
UNDP participated in preparing for Lebanon’s CEDAW official periodic report combining the 4th and 5th reports by providing answers to CEDAW’s list of issues and questions relevant to the status of Lebanon in enhancing women’s rights in legislation.
A study on “the role of Parliament in women participation in political parties and parliamentary elections” was finalized, to enhance women’s participation in public policy and raise awareness among MPs of the WCPC and women in political parties on women’s political participation rights.
A draft law proposal on how to incorporate the women quota in the Constitution was drafted and validated by legal experts such as former Minister of Justice, Lawyer Ibrahim Najjar and former Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Lawyer Ziyad Baroud.
UNDP participated in the establishment of a coalition entitled “Women in Parliament” and drafted a strategy to include the women quota in the upcoming electoral law and lobby for its adoption.
Agender legal review of Lebanese legislation was conducted, setting forth a list of new laws to be drafted and current laws to be amended for the promotion of gender equality. It was submitted to the Head of the Woman and Child Committee who in return, disseminated it to committee members and relevant stakeholders for discussion and adoption. As a result, the Committee prioritized 3 laws related to the quota system, the protection of violence against women and women's right to grant citizenship to their children, and is working to redraft them and reach national consensus for their adoption by means of lobbying, education and organizing working group discussions. Heads of relevant parliamentary committees, independent women groups, women rights’ organizations and women members of political parties have engaged in discussions to address women participation in party structures and elections. The inputs were used to produce a strategy on promoting women in party structures and elections, contributing to raising awareness / increasing the knowledge on MPs, and encouraging parliamentary action. A study, recommendations, and implementation strategy on the role of Parliament and parliamentary committees in “Promoting women in party structures and elections” was produced and discussed during focus group meetings. Some of the recommendations were to develop the political parties’ programs by including equality between both genders to encourage and motivate women, to incorporate the quota concept within political parties’ programs, to raise awareness on this issue in different regions in Lebanon, to strengthen the partnership between Parliament, civil society and women members of political parties in implementing the International Conventions related to Women rights especially article 7 of CEDAW, to update the current laws related to women participation in Government and parties, to train women on leadership, decision making, public speaking and running electoral campaigns, among others.
In Somalia, 2013 has seen continued UNDP support to the participation of women in workshops and has encouraged the Federal Parliament to be more inclusive and equitable. Collaboration with the UNDP Gender team has also included activities in support of Women MPs' understanding of the legislative process. The project has supported the hiring of 5 young female graduates. Women MPs have also been supported to participate in a seminar on Parliament and civil society relations and engaging women organizations in the work of Parliament. In Somaliland, assessments of women's political participation and law-making procedures as well as public consultations have been conducted. An initial review of the Rules of Procedure has also been undertaken. Women's political empowerment activities have also been included in the SL Parliament Strategic Plan.
In Sudan, the State Standing Committees on Empowerment of Women have been established at regional level by support of UNDP in five states of Sudan. Sudan in terms of Legislative Assembly structure has several types of regular and permanent committees operating at national as well as state levels. The State Standing Committees on Empowerment Women fit into this larger picture. The mandate of this Committee is to review and make legislative proposals with respect to the situation of women in the state, to study problems in connection with the quality of women’s lives and their human rights in order to make improvements required to existing legislation and to monitor relevant legal developments in the region. The Committee has also mandate to make proposal on the changes needed to bring national legislations in line with provisions of international agreements which signed but have not been observed, as witnessed by the constant violations of women’s rights. Within the framework of UNDP programmes, the capacity of the members of the Standing Committees have been built in areas of human rights, gender budgeting, planning and oversight. In addition to this, Committees were supported in design and development the Women Empowerment Strategy for 2012-16 in each state of Eastern Sudan and two states of Darfur. As results of long-term UNDP engagements, the State Standing Committees are now able to propose revisions to the national legislations on the protection of women in region. With respect to violence against women, with the support of UNDP, the legislative proposals have been drafted to criminalize such violence for the last 10 years, at national level has been postponed for the time being. Indeed, violence against women remains the greatest problem in Sudan. It is perpetrated against their physical, psychological and sexual well-being. The number of victims in sexual gender based violence has in fact increased in some of the regions, and remained unchanged in other states. In light of these negative trends, additional assistance has been provided to them through UNDP rule of law activities. The Legislative Assembly of Sudan might not consider the issue of violence against women as a high priority, vis-à-vis priorities on economic development, political stability and security. Nevertheless, the consideration of legislation to criminalize violence against women is very important and UNDP will continue to provide support to the Committee on this matter.
In The Gambia, the Domestic Violence Bill 2013 has been adopted by national Assembly members during the fourth meeting of the National Assembly in the 2013 Legislative Year. Funded and fully supported by UNDP at all stages of the process it is seen as a great achievement for proponents of the Act which spans from Development organizations including Civil society and indeed the Gambia as a whole. The Act seeks to curb domestic violence in communities whilst also targeting and bringing perpetrators to justice and in addition serves as a testimony of The Gambia’s commitment to the empowerment of women and girls in line with international conventions. The provision of the Domestic Violence Bill 2013 is aimed at the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls amongst other social groupings.
In Tunisia, UNDPsupported Tunisian parliamentarians’ knowledge of international best practice on gender equality, quotas, and constitutionalization of equality provisions. The new Constitution of Tunisia(adopted on, January 26, 2014) is ground-breaking in its provisions to assure women’s equality, in explicitly committing to eliminate violence against women, in promoting women’s assumption of positions of responsibility in all sectors, and in working towards parity in all elected bodies within the country. UNDP has also been promoting equal access for women candidates to political parties campaign funding. 120 representatives from Tunisian political parties were trained on party regulations and disclosure mechanisms to redress gender inequities in political party campaign funding. (A workshop on political parties campaign funding and its effect on equal access for women candidates was convened by UNDP on 23-24 November 2013, in Tunis).
In Argentina - UNDP helped develop a Toolkit for legislators on gender mainstreaming. This guide aims to provide practical tools for mainstreaming gender in legislative work in Argentina. Its target audience are the national, provincial and municipal legislators. To read the full report, please click here.
Resources developed with support from UNDP to strengthen parliamentary oversight of gender equality
· Jordan -Political parties’ gender strategy
· Lebanon -Gender legal review of Lebanese legislation
Parliaments and Gender Equality in Latin America and the Caribbean
UNDP produced a tool for developing capacities in gender mainstreaming in parliaments, based on the experiences developed in Latin America and the Caribbean. The proposed tool consists of a series of strategic steps or stations that guide a process oriented towards legislative change with gender equality as the arrival point. Parliaments that decide to involve themselves in this challenge will set out on a journey that includes a process of self-diagnosis, the definition of a Plan for the development of capacities and their implementation and evaluation. The methodology will be useful in reinforcing the political control activities under the Legislative Branch and in strengthening its responsibility to offer public information to the citizenry.
· The English version is available here.
· The Spanish version is available here.
- An analysis of experiences that promote equality in parliaments – accessible here.
- Tips to institutionalize these efforts - accessible here.
- Analysis of Diversity in Parliaments – accessible here.