ParlAmericas’ contribution submitted by Lisane Thirsk, Program Manager – Gender Equality, ParlAmericas.
Question 2: How can men as leaders take meaningful action to foster an increase in women’s representation in decision-making bodies? How can men as husbands/partners, fathers, sons, and other family members, support women’s role in political life? Share concrete examples.
Parliamentarians are essential actors in the fight for gender equality due to their lawmaking and budgetary review functions which shape policymaking. In addition, their representative roles and broad public platforms can contribute to significant change in favour of women’s rights. It is especially important that male legislators use their collective influence towards these pursuits, as they continue to outnumber women in most parliaments.
As an inter-parliamentary institution that promotes and mainstreams gender equality in our work, ParlAmericas has compiled strategies male parliamentarians can employ in different settings to be effective allies for women’s equality and political empowerment. Parliamentarians from the Americas and Caribbean region have identified the following good practices, informed by their own experiences:
1) In political parties
- Taking leadership for the recruitment of more women candidates for the next election by encouraging women they know to run for office and mentoring and supporting potential candidates
- Ensuring their party is proactive in seeking to run a gender-balanced ticket
- Promoting policies that favour equitable leadership by women in the party’s top governance structures
2) In legislative and oversight functions
- Assessing legislation and budgets through an intersectional gender lens to consider the potential impacts on diverse groups
- Advocating for laws and initiatives that will positively impact women and help build the political will to pass them
- Consulting with women’s groups to seek feedback on proposed legislative initiatives (not just those explicitly related to gender equality) and integrating the results into decision-making
3) In meetings (including committees, plenary, and in the constituency)
- Chairing meetings in a way that encourages equitable participation by all members (e.g. inviting those who have not spoken to contribute)
- Listening respectfully when each member of the group is speaking
4) In the media and online
- Leveraging social media as a tool to keep informed about the work of gender equality advocates and joining discussions on pertinent topics
- Challenging gender stereotypes and bias when they emerge on online platforms or through interview questions
5) In everyday life
- Learning about key gender equality issues and sharing knowledge with others
- Encouraging other men to become allies
- Using gender-sensitive language (i.e. communication that demonstrates respect for and does not invisibilize women) and draw attention to harmful uses of language in day-to-day conversations
To optimize outcomes, male allies’ contributions should be guided by the experiential knowledge and needs of diverse women in their country. This approach will help ensure coordinated efforts with women-led organizations and movements that promote gender equality. Taking joint action will help transform norms and structures that disadvantage women collectively. The resulting cultural changes will also contribute to a more inclusive political environment.
ParlAmericas has produced a forthcoming toolkit for male parliamentarians in the Anglophone Caribbean region who wish to further their knowledge on advancing gender equality in partnership with women. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.