The Impact of Women's Political Leadership on Democracy and Development

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Women’s minimal leadership role in national and local political spheres remains a serious concern worldwide. The Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005–2015 calls on governments to introduce measures to promote at least 30 per cent representation of women in parliament, government and business.

The Impact of Women’s Political Leadership on Democracy and Development describes the barriers to women’s political participation and explains why the contribution of women is so crucial to democracy. It identifies established strategies – electoral reform (New Zealand), party voluntary quotas (South Africa), and legislative quotas (Bangladesh and India) – that have helped these Commonwealth countries to meet the global target of 30 per cent and thus to effectively advance the participation of women in decision-making at all levels.



Women's Political Participation in the Commonwealth: Issues and Challenges

Recognition of the importance of women’s effective participation and representation in democratic processes has been widely acknowledged, and that genuine democratic elections must contribute to women’s empowerment and strengthen gender mainstreaming at all levels of decision-making. The Commonwealth’s guiding principles and values in the 1991 Harare Declaration, reaffirmed in the 2011 Perth Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM), emphasised improving gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Commonwealth, and called on Heads to demonstrate commitment by entrenching measures to advance women’s political participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making. The proposed ‘target of no less than 30 per cent of women in decision-making in the political, public and private sectors by 2005’ (Commonwealth Secretariat 1996) is attracting increasing support from member countries. Actions to realise this global target, especially the equitable representation of women in the political arena, are constantly evolving.


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