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One in five parliamentarians across the world are women.

 

As per the recent data provided by Inter-parliamentary union, in average 19.5 per cent are women represented in the parliaments across the world. This means that 1 out of 5 parliamentarians is a female.

 

The Northern European countries registered the highest index of female involvement in the parliaments – 42 per cent; meantime the OSCE countries’ index is 22.6 per cent. The lowest percentage – only 11.3 per cent of women involvement in the parliaments is indexed in the Arabic countries.

 

Female representation in the Armenian National Assembly is 8.3%.

 

The Women in Politics 2012 report, produced by UN Women in conjunction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), maps the progress of women’s political participation around the world in the past year. The report was presented in the beginning of March. The report shows that the number of elected women leaders of State and Governments has increased from eight in 2005 to 17 in 2012, accordingly, the number of women ministers also increased from 14.2 per cent in 2005 to 16.7 per cent today. The Scandinavian countries have the highest percentage of women ministers at 48.4 per cent, followed by the Americas at 21.4 per cent and sub-Saharan Africa at 20.4 per cent.

 

In the Armenian Government only 11 per cent are female. Perhaps this veracity deprives some of our political male leaders yell out that “We are not Africa”.

 

While presenting the report, Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) highlighted the role of quotas to accelerate women’s political participation adding that more hands-on measures are needed to achieve significant progress on this issue. Quotas, the report reveals, have had a positive effect on increasing women’s involvement in politics. Out of the 59 countries that held elections last year, 17 of them had legislated quotas. In those countries, women gained 27 per cent of parliamentary seats compared to 16 per cent in countries without quotas.

 

As per the current quota functioning in Armenia, the proportional electoral lists should have not less than 20 per cent women representation, or as it is defined in the Election Code, “the number of representatives of each sex should not exceed 80 percent”.

 

“Today I call for stronger commitment by leaders to increase women’s participation in politics,” said Michelle Bachelet during a press conference in New York. “I encourage countries to use quotas to expand women’s participation in parliament,” she said. “It is also good to open public debate about the right of women to take part in government and to hold public office. Democracy grows stronger with the full and equal participation of women,” she added.

 

“UN Women will support women’s movements, work with parliaments to amend laws to include gender equality perspectives, and support reforms of electoral laws to facilitate the incorporation of women in elections as voters and candidates,” Ms. Bachelet said, adding that the agency will advise on the adoption of laws that include the quota system, support the training of women candidates, and work with governments to mainstream gender in ministries.

 

Abdelwahad Radi, President of the IPU, echoed Ms. Bachelet’s remarks, stating that the joint report demonstrates that there is still too little participation from women in politics. “It’s essential for all countries to make every effort possible and necessary and to take every opportunity provided to guarantee significant participation of women in politics,” he said.

 

The IPU research indicates that greater number of women representation in the parliament leads to greater emphasis on children rights issues. Likewise the systems created to support women’s rights have a positive impact on children’s rights protection.

 

The World experience of parliamentarism proved that if less than 10 per cent of women are involved in the legislative structure, the adoption of laws on child protection and various social issues is being hindered.

 

To influence and impact the decision making culture, to change the rules of the political game and to make the policy more humane will become possible only if 25-30 per cent women are represented in the parliament.

 

T.H.

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