Women’s equal representation and participation in politics and public life is not simply desirable for fully-functioning democratic systems; it is essential.
Women’s political leadership results in better outcomes for women and girls, as well as for society as a whole, and delivers progress in policy areas vital for economic growth and development, such as health, education and infrastructure. Even without these quantifiable dividends, the argument for women’s empowerment is irrefutable – democracy cannot be said to exist if half of the population is not wholly engaged equally in decision-making.
WFD’s work will take into consideration the social, cultural, economic and political norms that inhibit women’s full participation in politics and governance, and work with partners to develop systems and strategies that challenge and transform these.
Parliamentary assistance will include efforts to embed gender throughout all aspects of parliamentary business, including introducing innovations in gender budgeting and auditing, and incorporating gender analysis into post-legislative scrutiny processes. Work with political parties will link systems for recruitment and advancement of women candidates with organisational development and strategies for higher levels of performance and competitiveness in elections.
WFD’s work on women’s empowerment will include stakeholder-wide programming that involves all those – including men – who have an impact on women’s opportunities to exercise influence, as well as offering women only engagements that allow emerging women leaders to further develop their skills in a supportive environment.
WFD supports women MPs in the Middle East and North Africa fighting for legislative change that eradicates discrimination towards women and girls in the region.
In 2018, we continued to support the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence Against Women – a network of women parliamentarians from 13 countries – with impressive results at both the national and international level.
Post-Legislative Scrutiny allows parliaments to ask is legislation achieving what it was intended to. This question is particularly important when it comes to matters of gender equality.
A more gendered approach to post-legislative scrutiny can help bridge the growing gap between what a law commits governments to do and what actually happens.
Gender budgeting is often misinterpreted to mean spending more money on policies that will help women. But it is really about measuring impact and ensuring that government is spending and raising money in ways that are fair and that advance equality. Austerity measures, for example, frequently have a vastly disproportionate impact on women’s income.
Since its establishment, WFD has been supporting the international work of UK political parties. Their global programmes complement the work undertaken directly by the Foundation in many countries and regions of the world, especially where gender equality is concerned. Political parties can draw on a wealth of experience including policy development, candidate selection and campaigning that help advance the number of women candidates and elected representatives.
Women’s Academy for Africa
The Labour Party’s international WFD programme supports the Women’s Academy for Africa, a network that provides leadership training for women in multiple countries across Africa. In 2017, a trainee from the Academy was invited to participate in the Annual Labour Party Conference where exposure to training helped her address challenges unique to women in politics in her own country. The participant, who wished to remain anonymous, decided to stand for the Presidency of the Youth League in her political party.
Union of Latin American Parties (UPLA)
In 2017-18, the Conservative Party started partnering with UPLA to help them develop a women’s network, with the aim of giving women a greater voice within political parties in the region and to help more women get into political leadership roles.
The network was launched in June 2018. Additional work to support women’s political participation in the region included the provision of training for women politicians from 13 Latin American countries on communication skills and campaigning.
Case study: campaigning to change Iraq’s penal code
As part of WFD’s work with the Coalition of Women MPs, individual support helps members to initiate change in their own countries. WFD works with lawmakers in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine to champion changes to discriminatory laws that perpetuated violence against women and girls.
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