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“What can we do to increase the representation of women in elected bodies of parties”

On the eve of the parliamentary hearings on the package of legislation on political parties in the RA National Assembly, WomenNet.am spoke with Sona Ghazaryan, a member of the “My Step” faction. According to our interlocutor, along with increasing transparency and accountability of the parties’ proposed financial resources, it is also proposed to promote women’s political participation with new regulations. So our first question is just about those adjustments…

 

  • In the last couple of weeks I have been researching the international experience of what we can do to increase women’s involvement in the party and in particular the elected bodies of the party. The Civic Contract party has two elective bodies – the Board and the Steering Committee, and as the chairman of the Steering Committee I see the issue of less women’s involvement.

 

International experience offers many options. For example, in some European countries where there is no quota, the proportional list of parties is coordinated through public funding during elections. If women’s involvement in France or even in our neighboring Georgia is below the specified percentage, then these parties are deprived of public funding to some extent. I think this is one of the ways that it can be really effective.

 

  • That is, do you consider financial leverage to be the preferred way…?
  • – I think yes. For example, Finland’s Law on Parties says that 12 per cent of public funding must be directed towards the development of women within the party. In my opinion, this is a very good solution.

 

We can also make some adjustments that will make it intrusive within the party, use quotas in elected bodies, and it will be useful to study the international experience in this area in more detail.

  • How will the regulations mentioned within the parties affect the quota fixed by the Electoral Code?
  • Yes, the Electoral Code regulates the sex ratio of candidates in the party lists. As it is known, the current ratio is not less than 25/75, and for other elections it is fixed 30/70. At the moment, discussions are under way about changing that percentage, and I, for example, think the ratio should be 35/65. I find it unacceptable that it is often speculated that there are not enough women in parties. This is a misconception, and the velvet revolution has shown that there are active women, and if women’s participation is encouraged, they will be found not only in the electoral rolls but also in the National Assembly.
  • – Recently there have been calls for a quota requirement for the executive, as even after the velvet revolution, the number of female ministers in the executive remains low.

 

  • – We will hardly touch upon this issue within the framework of the amendments to the law on political parties, but I think that this issue should be resolved differently. In Sweden, for example, there is no quota at all, but women’s representation in parliament is 46 percent. When I had the honor of meeting with their Vice-Speaker, I asked how they had achieved such a high figure, and he said that if the inclusion of women in party lists was not above 20 percent, it would, so to speak, become a public matter. It seems to me that the question of women’s representation in the executive should also become a public demand and a matter of public shame, whether or not there are women. At least at this moment I think this is the solution.

 

In addition, I also welcome the initiative of the Vice President of the National Assembly Lena Nazaryan, which aims to increase the number of women ambassadors in our diplomatic corps. On the eve, I was also studying the suggestions of international and local experts that it is advisable to hold local government elections in urban communities, such as in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor, ie by applying the proportional system and applying the quota principle…

 

-Technical question: within what timeframe does the NA intend to adopt the amendments to the Law on Parties?

 

– On October 18th, the National Assembly will hold public discussions, after which the active work will continue. I hope that by the end of the year we will have the changes enacted by law.

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