Women political leaders: Evidence of the impact of gender on democracy

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25 March 2021, 12.30 - 2.00pm UK time

Women political leaders: Evidence of the impact of gender on democracy

The 65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) focuses on: women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

At this official side event at CSW65, WFD presents a panel of women political leaders who will share their experience of disrupting the culture of division and one-upmanship in politics in their countries; of leading the introduction of inclusive policies and laws; and talk about the ways that they have been able to sustain their political careers.

The event will discuss WFD’s recent research with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London which showed that where women take part and thrive in politics, the whole of society benefits. It found that women are re-shaping politics and international relations, improving how governments respond to citizen needs, and bringing a more collaborative and inclusive style of leadership to political environments. It highlighted how women political leaders prioritise legislation that addresses inequalities and equal access to health services, welfare and education and indicated that women’s political leadership is correlated with less corruption.

Read the report: Women political leaders: the impact of gender on democracy

At CSW65, our panel will explore the research findings and bring them to life through their own experiences of leading in the political arena: How have they challenged barriers in political parties? How have they stayed resilient in the face of hostile, grueling and sometimes violenct political areas? How have prioritised laws to achieve equality? And how are women improving democracy?

Watch the event recording:

Who’s on the panel?

Maria Miller MP smiling at the camera

Maria Miller MP

Maria Miller MP is a Conservative Member of the UK Parliament. She served as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities, from September 2012 to April 2014. Maria is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women in Parliament. She Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Domestic Violence; Co-Chair of APPG UN Women; and Chair of the APPG on Women in Parliament. Maria Miller serves on the board of governors of Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Preet Kaur Gill MP

Preet Kaur Gill MP is a Labour Member of the UK Parliament. She was elected to the House of Commons in 2017 and currently serves as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development as part of the official opposition.

Intissar Jibouri MP

Intissar Jibouri is an MP in Iraq and a founding member of the Coalition of Arab Women MPs to Combat Violence Against Women, responsible for drafting the Arab Convention to Combat Violence against Women and Girls. In 2010 she was elected to the to Iraqi House of Representatives, before being elected outside the quote in 2014 and again in 2018. She is currently working on legislation to protect people from family violence and on repealing an article of the Iraqi Penal Code that gives rapists immunity if they marry the women they attack. She is Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Family and Childhood and a member of the Network of Women Parliamentarians Network for Equality (Raedat), the Forum for Women in Politics, and an observer member of the Reconstruction Fund for Liberated Areas.

A woman looking at the cameraLiana Chapota MP

Liana Chipota became a Member of Parliament in Malawi on 21 May 2019. She was born Lilongwe, Malawi in 1978. After graduating from Chancellor College, University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in Media for Development Communication, she worked as a Project Manager for Pakachere, a health communication and development NGO that specialises in Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC). During that time, she was also a lecturer at the Continuing Education Centre at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic in Blantyre. 

Siviwe GwarubeSiviwe Gwarube MP

Siviwe Gwarube is an MP in South Africa. She began her career in politics as a professional staff member working in communications back in 2012. She then moved on to work for the Western Cape government as a spokesperson and the Head of Ministry for the Department of Health in the province. In the lead up to and during the 2019 elections, She was the Executive Director of Communications for the DA before seeking public office and being elected.

Dr Minna Cowper-Coles

Dr Minna Cowper-Coles is a researcher on politics and gender. She gained her PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London, studying gender and political support in the Middle East. She has lectured on Middle East politics, and taught on courses on global politics, quantitative and qualitative research methods at Birkbeck College. She authored the report ‘Women political leaders: the impact of gender on democracy’ for the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership and Westminster Foundation for democracy.

Sophia Fernandes (Chair)

Sophia Fernandes is the Senior Adviser on Political Inclusion at WFD. Prior to that, she was interim Regional Director for Asia. Between 2018-2020 Sophia was responsible for leading WFD’s Commonwealth wide programme, the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, where she led innovative inclusion programmes across the Commonwealth and in 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to advance political inclusion of women, youth, LGBT+ citizens and persons with disabilities.

Shannon O’Connell

Shannon O’Connell is WFD’s Director of Programmes. She has worked on more than two dozen electoral campaigns, largely for women candidates. She served as Senior Advisor to Dawn Purvis MLA, former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. She was also an advisor and campaign manager for the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in their first elections after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. She has worked in more than 20 countries worldwide, including as Country Director for National Democratic Institute in the West Bank and Gaza.

The session will have Arabic-English simultaneous interpretation.

How to attend

The event is being hosted on the NGO CSW platform. To attend, complete the following steps at least 48 hours before the event.

  1. Create a CSW65 Forum profile
  2. You will receive a confirmation email from NGO CSW (no-reply@pathable.com) within 48 hours. Follow the instructions to create a username and password.
  3. Login to the NGO CSW platform using your username and password
  4. Register for our event by clicking on the “reserve spot” button and add the event to your calendar
  • Who:
    WFD at CSW65
  • When:
    25 March 2021, 12.30 - 2.00pm UK time
  • Where
    Online at NGO CSW