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Women's Participation in the Constitution-Building process

Many countries have, in recent decades, written or revised their constitutions, such as Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, just to name a few.

In the past, the process of creating and revising a constitution was usually closed to the public and solely led by experts. However, public participation in these processes has been growing in recent years and is now increasingly accepted as a basic democratic right, affirmed by the UN Committee on Human Rights through their interpretation of Article 25 of the ICCPR. Mechanisms for participatory constitution building include civic education, public consultations, citizen participation via advocacy by civil society and expert groups, and referendums.

Public participation in democratic constitution-building processes can be considered a continuous dialogue between members of the public, including individual citizens, CSOs, academia, unions, and expert groups, with political parties and the body (such as a Constituent Assembly) mandated to draft and approve the new constitution. All citizens should have the right to participate in the entire process, which has become as equally important as the content of the final document for the legitimacy of a constitution.

A country’s constitution provides the framework for its legal system, which shapes not only the political status of women, but their economic and social status as well. Significant advances in the participation of women in recent constitution-building processes have contributed to increasingly gender sensitive constitutions. It is, therefore, imperative that women be involved and participate throughout the entire process.

Regardless of these advances, some governments still consider that simply stating in a constitution’s preamble that women and men are equal will suffice. However, a closer look at the individual articles of several constitutions reveals that the assertion of equality and non-discrimination is not sufficient to guarantee the equal treatment of women. To this effect, women’s movements, in many countries, have been able to put forward proposals that secured women’s rights and obliged the state to remove obstacles to their effectiveness.  

To learn more on different constitutional provisions related to gender in countries around the world, we invite you to explore the UNWOMEN constitutional database, as well as Constitution Net, which is an exclusive online forum for constitution-building practitioners. 

In this online discussion, we are looking forward to hearing your ideas and stories of how women have influenced the constitution-building processes and constitution texts.  

1)      The process:

  • Examples of women’s movements being formed prior to the initiation of a constitution-building process in order to formulate proposals along a gender perspective.
  • Examples of successful civic education programs targeting women.
  • Examples of mechanisms for consultation with CSOs and women’s organizations during the process. Was social media used to involve more women in the process?
  • Have women from marginalized groups (on the basis of class, religion, ethnicity or those living in rural areas, for example) been able to participate in the process? How have they made their voices heard?
  • How did women in civil society work together with women in political parties or in the constitutional body (such as a Constituent Assembly, Constitutional Assembly, or parliament) to advance their agenda?
  • Were women’s groups able to forge alliances with other actors, such as human rights groups, labor unions, and academia to advance a common agenda?
  • How were advocacy priorities established?  What were the priorities of women engaged in constitution building?
  • Examples of representation of women at the negotiation table. By what percentage? How have these women been appointed/elected?

 

2)      The product, i.e. the Constitution:

  • Examples of specific constitutional articles that affect the daily lives of women ((Equality between women and men, Citizenship and Nationality, Right to Property/Inheritance, Marriage and Family Life, Labor and Economic life, etc.) Are there examples of articles that have been particularly detrimental to women?
  • Examples of how revisions made in a Constitution improved the status of women.
  • To what extent have provisions of particular importance to women been implemented by governments? What have been the significant successes and challenges?
  • How does the public hold the government accountable for implementing the constitution?

 

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There are 43 Comments in this language version, More comments are available in different languages.

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Patricia Palacios Jaramillo's picture

Hi, I want to participate in this discussion by sharing the document I wrote a few years ago on this subject: “The rights of women in the new Constitution 2008”, which you can find here http://www.institut-gouvernance.org/fr/analyse/fiche-analyse-452.html (in Spanish)
I hope it is useful.

In Ecuador, despite what was achieved in the Constitution written in 2008, in reality there are still setbacks. Several minor laws and related regulations do not help to fully exercise our rights. The day before yesterday, February 23 2014, we had elections for subnational governments (although we will have to wait for the official results) are we expected a drop in the % of elected women due to the political culture and existing detrimental regulations, among other reasons.

regards,

Patricia Palacios

(original comment in Spanish)

nurjanah's picture

Indonesia's experience is somewhat gratifying but at the same time can also be seen as work in progress with regard to involving and educating women in the constitutional building process. An achievement does not come overnight; there has been a long history of back and forth development on women's movement since as early as 1940s in Indonesia. Initially, women were put in the frontline during the independence movement, and then they were betrayed by being sent back in the domestic course, and given a euphemistic title, "Dharma Wanita" (The Dutiful Women), that rapidly changed the true meaning of the days of the pioneer national women's conference in 1928. The agenda of the conference was to lift the life of women in many areas, among them access to education, combating child marriage, better health care for women, as well as proposing representation of women in the public office. As the independence was achieved, the Founding Father put women back in domestic affairs and marked that conference as Mother's Day instead of Women's Day.

Despite the branding, groups of women keep on empowering others to fight for their rights to equality and for more deserving shares. The moment had finally emerged when, in 1997, the old regime was toppled. Various political groups were waging their political agenda, as were the women's groups. The first five years after the reform era, there had been a significant number of influential and effective women who sat in the legislative assembly and have passed groundbreaking laws, among them the Citizen Rights Laws for Children born to an Indonesian mother and non-Indonesian father, Anti-Domestic Violence Law also passed the same year in 2004. However, the band of women often scattered around with their missions due to politics within the parties. Often female politicians disapprove of one another. This certainly is weakening the whole women's movement in the public eye. Women need to continue to be educated about unity, shared goals, and more importantly, also continue to engage male politicians who are sympathetic to our cause as important allies.

nemata's picture

My Country Sierra Leone is currently undergoing a Constitutional Review Process. With 84 members in the Committee, the new committee has a much larger membership than any previous constitutional review body with roughly 25% drawn from government or state institutions, 40% from political parties and the remainder from civil society and non-governmental organisations. Civil society representation is very diverse and it should not be assumed that they will all speak with one voice on the issues. Despite the clamour from women’s groups that led to at least two additional women being appointed, the final number of women on the committee – nineteen – is well short of the 30% recommended by the TRC Report of 2004 and promised by the President in 2010 as the minimum quota/proportion of women to sit on any decision-making body. The Review Committee is to report by February 2015. So it is business as usual for us women!!

However, we, women activists who are outside the Committee, have been doing our bit to ensure that women's voices are heard loud and clear in the process. My organisation -The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone - has recently done a detailed analysis of the constitution, with the help of 5 Lawyers, and identified those areas that are discriminatory to women. Based on their analysis, we have written a Facilitator's Manual and a Participants' Manual and trained 40 Trainers who should provide cascade training to their peers/colleagues etc. However, we now don't have funding for the cascading of the training. Does anyone know who can help us?? We have also done a jingle and a short skit and are using money from our pockets to have it aired on radio stations. Any idea of who can help? If you have any ideas of what else we can do, please help.

Thanks

Dr. Mrs. Nemata Majeks-Walker

Founder & First President

The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone

ameena alrasheed's picture

There are many obstacles for women to contribute in constitutional building, particularly in a post-conflict setting, and, despite the complexities of the situation, many countries managed to at least build a good ground for intervention and awareness; however a lot needs to be done.

Starting from the peace processes that allow space for women to contribute in constitution building in their countries, I would illustrate a good example that I was only a witness to during the elections in Sudan. One women’s organization, SALMA, topped the chart in information and awareness in election and the upcoming constitution building process. This organization issued statements, videos, charts and leaflets that not only helped women become aware of their rights but also worked as a very influential tool in raising awareness and consciousness among all Citizens.

SALMA, the Sudanese organization, has successfully formulated strategy to inform about women and the significance of bringing them in and I would say it collaborated and took the lead with other organizations in building a strong front to raise awareness and to stimulate citizens to participate and to formulate a more inclusive constitutional setting. Although its work has been cut short, its impact was immense and it opened venues for women to innovate and to keep their cause held high in the overall process of development. Nonetheless, there are, as I said, many obstacles that still face women in their endeavor to be heard.

The importance of the CSOs and their participation render huge outcomes most of the time, particularly when they build together a strong task force to highlight the shortcomings in constitutions and the process of constitution building.  

Resident and daring women’s organizations are much needed in such situations and the struggle continues despite the shortfall and the limited outcomes, however eventually through collaboration, awareness and strategic planning, women could participate in future constitution building. Sudan’s example is a bright one despite the very limited outcome but it work as tool that could be utilized in different areas.

Dr Ameena Alrasheed  

sonja lokar's picture

After the dissolution of the former socialist Yugoslavia, Slovenia was the first new born transitional country to pass a new constitution in 1991. At this moment I was a member of the parliament. The share of the women in our first multiparty parliament was low; it dropped from 26 % in 1989 to only 11% in 1990 in the so called political assembly. The conservative coalition Demos was in the majority but did not have enough seats to change the constitution without the consent of the opposition. There was a strong tendency to get rid of all the gains in specific economic, social and personal human rights, which were written in the former, socialist constitution. The focus was now on political rights and on the right to private property and economic initiative.

In the constitution of the Slovenian Republic from 1974 there was also a very important article, granting freedom of choice for women and the duty of the state to make this freedom possible. Some smaller conservative parties, strongly connected to the Catholic Church, argued that we should have excluded this article from the new constitution, and replaced it by the article which would secure the sanctity of life, while the issue of abortion should be regulated within an ordinary law.

We were well aware, that is all the women in the parliament, that if we agreed to let this article be deleted from the new Constitution, any conservative majority would easily ban our right to legal, safe, and cost-free abortion. So we all came together, asking our parliamentary colleagues to safeguard this right in the Constitution.

But they were not ready to listen and our number was too small to make a difference - the Constitution was accepted with a two thirds majority of the votes in the parliament. Even worse, male dominated leaderships of the left parties, which were in favor to keep this article in the new constitution started the negotiations, trying to make a trade off and give up this article so they could get something else they wanted to put in the constitution and that the conservative parties were opposing.

So I decided to ask public support from women activists in the trade unions and from the women activists from my party. We organized a big demonstration in front of the parliament and the disputed article remained only slightly changed in our new constitution.

The lesson that active women learned from this struggle was very clear: even if the women are poorly represented in the parliament, in cooperation with the massive stakeholders outside the parliament, they can force the parliament to include their women’s human rights while dealing with the constitution building.

The second example is from 2004, when we succeeded to amend the Slovenian Constitution by introducing positive measures for all candidate lists, just before Slovenian accession to the EU. From 2000, the Slovenian parliament had only 13% of women MPs. This time women's strategy was much more elaborate: first we formed, across all political divisions, in the civil society, an informal big women's coalition for parity and prepared our proposal of the amendment. Then, we lobbied international partners in the EU to exert top down pressure on our party leaders, and we organized a strong parallel electoral campaign, creating bottom up pressure from the women voters (so called sandwich strategy); women MPs from the biggest different parliamentary parties lobbied the most powerful male MPs and got them to propose our amendment in the parliament. In this way we finally got 71 out of 90 possible votes for our proposal.

The lesson learned from this exercise was also very clear: women cannot change the constitution if the constitution is not already in the process of rewriting or amending, but if they strategically seize this opportunity, unite across political divisions, define clearly what they ask for, and organize their public pressure strong enough, they cannot fail.

Sonja Lokar, Slovenia

Jerusaambira's picture

Kenya last reviewed its constitution in 2010. During the process women did not have equal opportunity as the men. This was because out of the six members of the committee of experts that came up with the draft, only one was a woman. It follows, therefore, that women did not have a strong force to push their agenda.

When the draft was released to the public, it was the politicians who carried the day by campaigning for or against the constitution. The women again campaigned depending on what their political party wanted, and in the process they did not think of what the woman actually needed out of this constitution. The voters voted depending on which side convinced them.

The women in Kenya are still weak when it comes to fighting for their rights and making their rights constitutional. This is because we tend to follow the desires of our political parties and not our wishes. Even the women’s umbrella body, Maendeleo ya Wanawake, has political affiliations in that it always serves the interests of the government of the day, which is a political outfit. The few women who appear to be spear-heading women issues don’t make much impact since they do not involve the woman at the grassroots level. They concentrate on the elite women in the capital city who make up a small percentage of the women population in the country. We, therefore, lack a voice to press for constitutional inclusion.

It is, however, worth noting that this constitution improved the number of women in political appointments by setting a quota of one third for women’s representation. It also created county women representatives, meaning we have 47 seats for women in parliament. This has not, however, improved the affairs of women because the 47 women are elected on party affiliations, which makes them politicians whose agenda is to improve their own lives and not that of the masses. One year down the line since they were elected, there is nothing to show for their presence in parliament. Again, the men had their way on this one since the political parties are owned by them. The constitution should have come up with a different way of getting the 47 women to parliament other than through political party affiliation.

In general, women play a very minimal role in constitution building due to the fact that in Kenya, constitution making is a political affair. Even the experts are selected depending on their political affiliation so that they can push the agenda of the politicians.

SimiAfonja's picture

Nigerian women have been advocating for a gender review of the Constitution and mobilized over a period of two decades to identify the gaps and work out the content of the revisions. The changes required and their strategies matured over a long period of time and have been justified by the gender gaps in women's representation and political effectiveness and the violations of women's rights since the country returned to democratic rule.

Previous efforts did not succeed but the constitutional review process undertaken by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2012 created a great deal of optimism. Having overcome some of the divisions that cast doubt on the commitment of the women's movement to gender equality and women's empowerment, they worked under several umbrella organizations, the Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN) and the National Coalition for Affirmative Action in particular, to articulate their inputs into the 2012 Review of the 1999 Constitution. The issues addressed included the language of the constitution, citizenship, indigeneity, dignity of womanhood, the issues of women with disabilities and the host of discriminatory practices that impair women's rights. 

Since the constitution review was perceived as a major contribution to the entrenchment of democratic governance, it attracted the support of the donor community. The process started with a stakeholders’ workshop, where the process was discussed with each stakeholder group. The women had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and, more importantly, to articulate the inputs into the gender review and the strategies. Because time was short, women were not well represented at the Senatorial District hearings and did not have the opportunity to make inputs at that level. However, they were better prepared for Zonal hearings. In advance of these, women from various groups: artisans, professional groups, market women's associations, faith-based organizations, NGOs and political associations, had been mobilized and sensitized to the gender review prepared and had engaged in road shows to publicize the process, the gaps and their demands. They were well represented at the public hearings and thereafter engaged in advocacy for the support of critical stakeholder groups and political gatekeepers to put pressure on the law makers to accept the gender review. Women friendly groups such as labor, the media and students and political groups were present at the public hearings. The process was supported by a media program which involved talk shows and radio jingles. Handbills and posters were printed to ensure that the message reached large sectors of the population. Women advocates had the opportunity to dialogue with the review committee at the end of the zonal hearings. The final report has not been published. But preliminary reactions suggest that the gender review has not been popular and may not be recommended in the report. The voices of Nigerian women appear to have been dwarfed by those of other groups agitating for changes in the constitution. We expect that ongoing negotiations with the women's groups and the value of the women's votes in the 2015 national elections will ultimately yield positive results.

charles chauvel's picture

The new Constitution of Tunisia was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the country’s National Constituent Assembly on Sunday evening, January 26 2014, and signed and promulgated in a ceremony at the Assembly on January 27, 2014. It is a historic moment for Tunisia; the country’s first democratic constitution, and a particularly significant event for Tunisian women.

The constitution 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. Such clear recognition of the importance of equality and of the state’s responsibility to enable the realization of equality is rare in constitutions anywhere in the world.

The activism of Tunisian women for equal rights has long been a feature of Tunisian society and an inspiration to other countries of the region. Equality was guaranteed in the previous constitution and in legislation on personal status. The new constitution extends these rights, reflecting the results of an inclusive and intensive process of dialogue throughout the country on the content of the new constitution.

Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly has a relatively high proportion of women members; 65 of 217 or 27%, placing it in the upper range of democratic parliaments. The high proportion of women members, as well as activism of women in civil society, meant that gender issues were treated seriously during the national constitutional dialogue and in the Assembly discussions and debates. The electoral law under which Assembly members were elected in the first free democratic elections after the revolution, in October 2011, ensured that women would be equally represented on party lists, and in alternate order of preference.

It is notable that the most expansive and contentious of the gender-related provisions, Article 46 on protection of women’s rights, was supported by 85% (50 of 65) of women deputies, compared with 59% of the Assembly as a whole, and 51% of male deputies. It is also important to note that the equality provisions garnered support from women across the political spectrum.

In terms of specific provisions on gender equality:

  • The preamble frames the constitution in the context of the “equality of rights and duties between all citizens, male and female”;
  • Article 21 confirms equality of rights and duties and outlaws prohibits gender discrimination: “All citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination”;
  • Article 34 guarantees women’s representation in all elected bodies;
  • Women’s accrued rights are guaranteed, effectively constitutionalizing equality provisions already existing in laws such as the Personal Status Code (article 46);
  • The state is required to ensure that women and men “have access to all levels of responsibility in all domains”; this provision was broadened in discussions just before adoption of the constitution, so that it will cover the private as well as public sector (article 46);
  • The state will work towards parity in all elected bodies, including not only the new parliament, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, but also in local elected councils. Discussion during the constitutional debate suggested this would require parity in candidacies of women and men (article 46);
  • The state will take “all necessary measures in order to eradicate violence against women.”

UNDP has been supporting the democratic transition in Tunisia since the revolution of 2011, and is the main international partner to the National Constituent Assembly in supporting the constitutional process, parliamentary strengthening, and national dialogue, a project which runs from 2012 to 2015. This work is carried out in parallel to UNDP’s other governance projects in Tunisia, which include support to the election process and to the justice system.

Particular emphasis has been placed by UNDP on assisting the National Constituent Assembly in ensuring an inclusive constitutional process, including extensive public consultation and engagement with civil society organizations across the country. Gender issues and the importance of entrenching women’s equality in the constitution have been key themes in the dialogue. UNDP has supported Tunisian parliamentarians’ knowledge of international best practices on gender equality, quotas, and constitutionalization of equality provisions, including by sponsoring an international seminar in 2012 that brought South African women MPs to Tunis to share their experiences in the democratic transition in South Africa.

The equality provisions as well as the other rights and freedoms outlined in the Constitution will need to be entrenched in organic and ordinary laws that implement the constitutional framework, and the UNDP project will be working to support the new Tunisian parliament in these legislative responsibilities.

More detailed information is available from the UNDP project supporting the constitutional process, parliamentary strengthening, and national dialogue: Jonathan Murphy, Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP Tunisia, jonathan.murphy@undp.org; Olivier-Pierre Louveaux, Parliamentary Development Expert, UNDP Tunisia, olivier.louveaux@undp.org. The project is supported by Japan, Belgium, the European Union, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland, as well as UNDP.

Paloma Román Marugán's picture

It’s been over thirty-five years since the Constitution for Spanish democracy was adopted. Not only did it create a true democratic system, but it was also an opportunity to modernize the country. Unfortunately, there were no women participating in the drafting of the constitution; it is true that there were women parliamentarians in the Constituent Assembly, but they did not play a prominent role. This situation, along with then archaic Spanish society, enshrined in the text specific discriminatory situations that would not have been present had there been an active participation of women at the time.

Despite a large number of guaranteed rights and freedoms in the Constitution, these are often limited to rhetoric, without really being transferred in practice to society with its archaic hindrance. The struggle for equality for Spanish women is still arduous despite the progress made. Consider this example so that it does not happen in future occasions. Women must be heard and must contribute to the constituent assembly, because they know thoroughly the society in which they live, as they often are its true livelihood and you should not expect others to agree with them, because they, yes, will remember us all. Today, on International Women's Day, I want to make this reflection clear.

(original comment in Spanish)

iKNOW Politics's picture

Women need alliances among themselves in order to fully exercise their rights as citizens. The united efforts of women's organizations can support and legitimize laws. They must also guarantee available funds for the constitutional implementation of women’s rights.

(original comment posted in Spanish by Monica through social media)

Jackie K. Weatherspoon's picture

I believe in using a mediation and meditative style to any negotiation of  the opposing group giving up power. Each side wants to be heard. If you can become a good listener, you give voice to both sides but mainly to the group that needs an advocate to gain power.

luisa_85's picture

I liked the video of the Mexican judge. She's right. For us, women, to influence the rule of law, we need to be able to exercise our rights. In order for that to happen, the judicial system needs to ensure our right to rightfully participate in decision-making. If the system does not protect us, there will continue to be these simulated procedures where women are called to participate, but where, in reality, only the male voices are heard. 

In Mexico we have just witnessed a promising experience. Women have been elected to Congress in proportions of 35%, which is something that had never happened before. They did so because the Electoral Tribunal forced the political parties to meet the gender quota. Women have just raised the quota, which now is 50%. 

It is clear that in the years when there were only men in the House of Representatives, it never occurred to them that it was necessary to increase the quota. That's why women need to be present in decision-making positions to generate necessary constitutional changes.

(original comment in Spanish)

iKNOW Politics's picture

The fight for the recognition of women’s rights in Mexico has been a constant struggle that women have been undertaking at different times throughout history:

Proof of this is that during the independence movement women were emphasized as allies of the insurgents, to cite a few examples: Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez and Leona Vicario.

Despite these examples, at the dawn of the Republic, women were still considered as beings without legal rights and therefore, excluded from the possibility of access to citizenship and the exercise of their political and legal rights. That is why women undertook various movements from this time to have their rights recognized, such as:

- From the working class: when women were incorporated into the working class, most commonly as cigar stuffers, they were generally from the lower classes, who, either by male wage insufficiency, or lack of a husband, saw the need to work in order to feed their families.

These first women faced a double stigma because first, it was considered that their work disregarded their obligations to the family, and second by competing with male labor, but still earning lower wages.

Regardless, they were participants in the Labor Movement’s strikes: For example in 1880, Carmen Huerta chaired and directed the work of the Second Labor Congress, and in resolutions adopted by the congress, obtained the post of treasurer. This meant a first space for women's political representation.

- On the side of education: women were allowed to attend the "schools for girls", and although the poor instruction was not meant to develop women intellectually, it did allow them to learn to read and write, which fueled their search for equality.

These incipient actions would have a greater impact during Porfiriato’s time, when Rafaela Varela, sister in law of President Diaz and his brother’s widow, was devoted to collecting women signatures (nationally) in support of the Diaz candidacy on the pretext of getting the President’s sympathy to recognize the women’s right to vote.

Despite not achieving their objectives during the revolutionary era, Mexican women were noted for participating in the armed struggle, as companions of their husbands, better known as the "Adelitas" or as combatants, dubbed the "Soldaderas" and still others acted as consultants to major revolutionary leaders, which the latter would not have been possible without the budding instruction received in the schools for girls dating from the time of the reform.

At this time the first organized women's movements for equality between men and women are born, such as the First Feminist Congress in 1916 and the Women's Socialist Council League in 1927. During this time there are advances in the recognition of women’s rights and the first law is passed on family relations, providing for the right of women to file for divorce. The right to equal basic education was also recognized.

At this time the first political cadres of women were formed, among them Elvia Carrillo Puerto, an important figure in the women’s quest for political positions for women, who, in 1923, became the first female local representative in Mexico.

Efforts by Elvia Carrillo Puerto to achieve women’s suffrage were rewarded in 1940, when she managed to have discussed and approved a constitutional amendment to Article 34 granting women’s right to vote. This amendment, however, was not published due to General Lázaro Cárdenas’ suspicions that this would grant further power to the clergy, as it was considered at the time that the female vote would be influenced by religion, and he therefore chose not to move forward with the amendment.

By 1947, and under the presidency of Miguel Alemán Valdés, a small achievement is made in Mexico when women’s right to vote for municipal elections is approved.

In 1957 the amendment to article 34 passed and finally recognized the women’s right to vote. From that date, women’s participation in politics was within the legal framework, and in 1955, for the first time women seek equal rights.

Despite women enjoying the full recognition of their rights, there is still a clear separation between the "legal Mexico" and the "real Mexico", which is why women need to continue in their struggle to achieve in reality what the law embodies.

(original comment in Spanish posted by daniel_deog@live.com­.mx through social media)

chell Nadège's picture

Participation of women and processes, here are two words that deserve special attention. In fact, everything is done for the changed and transformed structures in which we live, therefore constitutions deserve a closer interest. They already have the merit of being the realization of the principles and duties passed from a society to its citizens and at the same time it is at the forefront of the existent disparities between principles and realities.

(original comment in French)

iKNOW Politics's picture

Unfortunately there is very little literature to tell us about the work of women throughout the history of our country and from when women have been displaced by gender situations.

But in reality, women have been active participants since the revolutionary armed struggle, in the different groups and sectors and they fought to reshape the country’s class system.

Historiographical review makes it possible to have an initial idea of women’s participation in the Mexican Revolution and structure it according to broader period (1880-1920), and this explains the role played by women, and the significance of their actions as members in the various revolutionary factions: soldiers, employees, workers, journalists, teachers, professionals; in the feminist struggle that, since Porfiriato’s time, questioned the subordinate role of women, and during the revolutionary period increasing women’s importance, growing in participation, and even becoming official in the constitution through the proposal submitted by Hermila Galindo to the Constituent Congress in 1916. Considered the first feminist of Mexico, she has not been sufficiently studied. She is said to be Mexico’s first female Member of Congress yet her proposals are not known in Congress.

We are at a crucial time for women and, in general, for gender parity. There is still a lot to be done but we have made great strides.

(original comment in Spanish posted by Daniela through social media)

iKNOW Politics's picture

It is worrying that women who have reached high positions of leadership are creating barriers that prevent other, more qualified, women from accessing these positions, it’s corruption. Favoritism and cronyism, much like the Latin American cronyism that kept women for centuries from advancing, is now reproduced by those taking office, passing it along to their families and refusing to leave their positions of power. It is a real shame, because we didn’t fight for that.

(original comment in Spanish by Carmen through social media)

iKNOW Politics's picture

Gender quotas have proven to be a key factor in stimulating political participation of women in the region, "in nearly 70 countries worldwide with legislative quotas, voluntary party quotas or reserved seats, the overall representation of women is around 22%, while in countries without quotas, the average is around 14%."

However, the effectiveness of quotas to ensure that women can actually be elected varies depending on the design of these measures and their compatibility with the electoral systems they apply to.

Once a consolidated electoral democracy in the region is achieved, one of the challenges for Latin American countries is to build a truly inclusive democratic system with equal rights to the exercise of political citizenship in which representative institutions reflect social diversity.

Today, only thirteen countries of the Hemisphere (twelve in Latin America and one in the Caribbean) have included provisions on quotas or parity for elections in the Lower / Single Houses of Representatives and five countries have done for the Upper House. Argentina was the first country in the region in 1991 to introduce such measures in their legislation to ensure a minimum number of women (30%) on electoral lists submitted by political organizations. Throughout that decade, several countries adopted similar percentages, although the application rules, especially the location of the candidates in eligible positions and the existence of penalties for non-compliance with the quota vary significantly from country to country.

In Mexico, we have only reached candidate parity in 2014. This represents a step forward for women’s empowerment. And we have no gender quotas but equal participation in the access to elected office. However, this is not enough. We need to find the mechanisms to refine the rules of parity.

(original comment in English by abgiovas through social media)

iKNOW Politics's picture

A Democracy should allow for the full participation of its citizens at all levels of government, but these require pre-determined Constitutional principles and laws that allow for such participation. The various political currents, more distinctly those from the Left and the Right, should realize that in a democracy, when one side is favored by popular vote it is only one component within a whole, where voters also have the equal opportunity to continue participating in political decisions or in public policy. The act of giving one’s vote does not necessarily mean, as is the current reality of Ecuador, that the ruling party gets to decide for all when a decision will affect the general interests of the citizens, and this requires consensus.  

In Ecuador, there have been legal mechanisms since 2008 allowing for these agreements and consensus building practices, requiring the ruling party to further our state of democracy through their implementation and enforcement. However, in reality they are driving their own interests and seeking longer stays in power, but always according to the legal progress made through the struggle of many people in the country for the adoption of the Constitution, and put their interests above those of social and economic interests and general well-being of its citizens.

Women are permanent players in different areas of our country, starting with the home, living with others, or just single with children, whore harsh realities are more pronounced in the countryside and the outlying areas of the cities, where they seek the best for their families, but have poor access to resources or the means to get help from the State, which calls for a new approach to combat poverty.

(original comment in Spanish by Drdarwinpantoja through social media)

jessicajeon's picture

I feel bad when i heard about womans are not indipendent in the world's many countries. From my point of view first of all the gov should give opportunity to the womans in the world. Also on social networking sites like Facebook we can see news were womans are raped, abused etc .. first we should have to stop that then we have to think about participation in constitution of building process.

IvailoG's picture

Hi Jessica,Maybe if more women participate in legislature and executive then more attention would be paid on issues as such as violence against women.Regards

mariampat's picture

As Ugandan women we have really come along way, given the fact that we are Africans, having been colonized for Eco Monica purposes but not social enhancement, we have struggled to our selves out of the traditions and backward culture that looked at women as mere objects for men to use.. Society has always had a negative attitude to women in terms of equality, empowerment,social justice, economic survival and  general existence in society. But Ani God this has changed, Ugandan women are now moving almost on the same pace with men and girls competing and sharing equal opportunities with boys although still faced with challenges. In my discussions I will be posting you the successes and challenges in Uganda as far as women involvement is concerned.

WENG's picture

We need to learn lessons, not one lesson but lessons from the women leadership in Rwanda where over 56% women run governance on the nation, effectively.generally there should be in place, structured projects  to advance women at all levels and in all sectors of leadership.The handicap experienced by some of us is the timidity or rather ego of women to identify self career development plans for result oriented representation of the gender.

Anonymous's picture

Efforts by Elvia Carrillo Puerto to achieve women’s suffrage were rewarded in 1940, when she managed to have discussed and approved a constitutional amendment to Article 34 granting women’s right to vote. This amendment, however, was not published due to General Lázaro Cárdenas’ suspicions that this would grant further power to the clergy, as it was considered at the time that the female vote would be influenced by religion, and he therefore chose not to move forward with the amendment. <a href="http://www.iknowpolitics.org/en/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://outlook-signin.org" rel="nofollow">http://outlook-signin.org">outlook sign in</a>

Anonymous's picture

Efforts by Elvia Carrillo Puerto to achieve women’s suffrage were rewarded in 1940, when she managed to have discussed and approved a constitutional amendment to Article 34 granting women’s right to vote. This amendment, however, was not published due to General Lázaro Cárdenas’ suspicions that this would grant further power to the clergy, as it was considered at the time that the female vote would be influenced by religion, and he therefore chose not to move forward with the amendment. <a href="http://www.iknowpolitics.org/en/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://outlook-signin.org" rel="nofollow">http://outlook-signin.org">outlook sign in</a>

Anonymous's picture

However, we, women activists who are outside the Committee, have been doing our bit to ensure that women's voices are heard loud and clear in the process. My organisation -The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone - has recently done a detailed analysis of the constitution, with the help of 5 Lawyers, and identified those areas that are discriminatory to women. Based on their analysis, we have written a Facilitator's Manual and a Participants' Manual and trained 40 Trainers who should provide cascade training to their peers/colleagues etc. However, we now don't have funding for the cascading of the training. Does anyone know who can help us?? We have also done a jingle and a short skit and are using money from our pockets to have it aired on radio stations. Any idea of who can help? If you have any ideas of what else we can do, please help. <a href="http://www.iknowpolitics.org/en/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://outlook-signin.org" rel="nofollow">http://outlook-signin.org">outlook sign in</a>

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