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UNITED NATIONS ENTITY FOR GENDER EQUALITY

AND THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN


(UN WOMEN)
Description of the Committee
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly
created the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and
the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women.
The United Nations merged four pervious groups that
focused on gender equality which include the Division for
the Advancement of Women, International Research and
Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, Office
of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and United Nations
Development Fund for Women. The committee consists of forty-five members elected by the
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for four-year terms.
The committee follows three main rules. First, it assists the Commission of the Status of
Women and other inter-governmental bodies to create global policies and standards. Second, it
aids UN member states implement the above standards, provide financial support, and form
effective partnerships. Lastly, the body holds the UN system accountable for its own
FRPPLWPHQWVWRJHQGHUHTXDOLW\DQGZRPHQVULJKWV1
TOPIC: EXPANDING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE
Introduction
Throughout history, women have had no or little roles in government. Although ZRPHQVULJKWV
have advanced, women are underrepresented and marginalized in the political arena. One of the
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KRPHFRXQWU\VSROLWLFDOV\VWHP
In many parts of the world, women fall into traditional gender roles. Women are less likely than
men to receive an education in their family, and in many places laws or cultural norms bar their
growth as leaders. Traditional gender roles make it difficult for women to rise to positions of

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power in politics, especially when women receive


little encouragement to strive for those roles.
0DQ\ LQWHUQDWLRQDO RUJDQL]DWLRQV DQG ZRPHQV
groups have started tackling this problem, but
there is still much progress to be made.2

The world is wasting a precious


resource today. Tens of thousands
of talented women stand ready to
use their professional expertise in
public life; at the same time, they
are dramatically underrepresented
in positions of leadership around
WKHZRUOG

Organizations like the UN Women and the


National Democracy Institute have created
-Madeline Albright, Executive Director of
structures to help expand women in politics at an
UN Women
international, national and local level. These
Source: www.unwomen.org
organizations fund endeavors to improve womenV
empowerment, leadership training, improvement
of policies, gender equality, increase in quotas, and participation in civil society.
Background

History of Female Participation in Government


The lack of female political participation
began in the ancient Greek political system,
and these ideas existed from nearly 500 B.C.
until the Enlightenment. Many political
thinkers such as Plato, Locke and Hobbes only
considered women fit for private roles of
society. The creation of this public-private
divide, also known as separate spheres,
contributes to the government norms now.
Only in the last century have women exercised
their right to vote and enjoy equal rights under
the law.
2YHU D GHFDGH ZRPHQV UHSUHVHQWDWLRQ LQ A group of Afghan women working across party
national parliaments around the world only lines, discussing political issues at a conference
grew 5.5 percent between 1999 (13.1 percent) Source: http://www.ndi.org/women-in-politics-afghanistan
and 2009 (18.6 percent).3 These statistics show
ZHDN LQFUHDVHV LQ ZRPHQV UHSUHVHQWDWLRQ Currently there are only nineteen female world
leaders, and Switzerland as the only country in the world that has had more than 3 female
leaders. 4

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When women are involved in the political system, everyone benefits. They bring a different
perspective on social issues and are PRUH OLNHO\ WR EH VHQVLWLYH WR WKHLU FRPPXQLW\V QHHGV.
Research shows that having women at negotiation tables can result in a more sustainable peace
process and a better chance at long-term success. Women also are more likely to reach across
the aisle or cross party lines like the cross-party caucus made in Rwanda (Forum of Rwandan

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Women Parliamentarians) in 1996. They tend


to work in a more participatory and
collaborative manner. Furthermore, when
women are political leaders, they address more
social or domestic issues like increasing health
standards or education infrastructure. Research
from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states that an
increase in women political leaders results in an
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CRITICAL THINKING
Many developed countries claim that
women have access to all rights in
their country. If these countries
make this claim, why has the country
never had a female leader? Why has
a female never lead a political party?
In these countries, why is parliament
still dominated overwhelming by
men? Why are higher government
positions still dominated by men?

Current Situation
In order to engage and expand the number of women in government from the local level to the
international LW LV LQWHJUDO WR XVH DOO SROLFLHV DQG WRROV DW WKLV FRPPLWWHHV GLVSRVDO. These
engagement tools range from leadership and training programs to increases in quotas and
policies. The three main areas include education, policies, and gender roles. Education broadly
includes training sessions, increase in higher education for girls, workshops to teach leadership
skills, and encouraging civil participation by women. Policies include changing government
laws and stances to increase female participation in government, including setting quotas. The
last area includes changing gender norms through cultural means rather than legal. In order to
make progress on the issue, a multi-faceted approach is integral.

Education
In order to expand in government roles, women themselves
need to believe they can fill those roles and show leadership.
Through training programs and workshops to teach leadership
skills, women will understand the importance of their
participatLRQ DQG JDLQ WKH FRQILGHQFH WR GR LW 7KH :RPHQV
Leadership Institute in Bolivia launched a six-week program,
which taught strategic planning, negotiations, advocacy and
conflict resolution for 35 women representing different
political parties.6 These types of programs give women the
skills to succeed and the support network to execute their
leadership goals.

Policies
A quota system is one of most popular and easiest strategies
for increasing female participation in government. Many :RPHQVOHDGHUVKLSDQG
countries have used quotas effectively to increase women empowerment workshop in Bolivia
participation in parliaments and ministries around the world.
There are several types of quotas including the nomination of Source: http://www.ndi.org
female candidates, increased representation in government institutions like the bureaucracy
through promotion or appointment, and using internal quotas for parties or governing boards.
These quotas range from being implemented by a constitution to a specific political party. This

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can be difficult to implement if the parliament


or political party is already male dominated.7
%HVLGHV FRXQWULHV UHVSHFWLYH FRQVWLWXWLRQV
women can be empowered through political
parties and laws. For example, the Scottish
Labour Party self-regulates and achieves parity
in representation through the nomination of
many women in constituency and list races.8 In
many countries women are neglected in the
involvement, preparation or coordination of
policies and projects. This leads to a cycle of
ZRPHQV participation and involvement never
being addressed.9

Gender Roles

QUOTAS
Data shows that 20 African
countries have adopted mandatory
or voluntary quotas. Below are the
most common type of quotas and
example countries:
x
x
x

Constitutional mandates for


quotas in Tanzania and Rwanda
Political party quotas in South
Africa and Mozambique
Legislated quotas in the
Democratic Republic of the
Congo

Source: un.org/womenwatch

Women not only find it difficult to participate in government at a high level but also on a local
level (e.g. voting). Women either have little amount of time available for to participate in
government due to their role in the home or are barred or discouraged from voting due to sexist
cultural norms. Due to the household responsibilities and limited resources available, women are
at a great disadvantage in civic participation. 10
It is important to focus on tackling the challenge of gender disparities while also fostering an
HQYLURQPHQW IRU ZRPHQV SDUWLFLSDWLRQ $OWKRXJK SROLFLHV DQG TXRWDV DVVLVW LQ FUHDWLQJ PRUH
leverage for women in politics, a shift in gender roles is needed.
International Action
Although the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOV) have
taken international steps to combat this
issue, most actions are limited to national
governments.
The United Nationsfirst major step was the
Beijing Platform for Action in 1995. This
was the fourth world conference on the
status of women wherein countries created
national plans of action to improve gender
equality.11

OHVVWKDQRQH-WHQWKRIWKHZRUOGV
cabinet ministers and one-fifth of all
sub-PLQLVWHULDOSRVLWLRQV
- 815HSRUW7KH:RUOGV:RPHQ
2000: Trends and Statistics
Source: www.ngopulse.org

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women also known
as the International Bill of Rights for Women was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations
General Assembly. The convention defines discrimination against women and outlines a plan of
national action for each nation to eradicate it. The only countries that have not ratified the
convention include Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tonga, and the United States.

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The Convention is controversial among the previous nations and others whom have previously
ratified. Issues include conflict over abortion and other female reproductive disputes. The
Convention also does not discuss maternity leave and benefits as a special protection.12 This
convention is the legal protection behind more equality for women in school, government, and
the economy. Non-governmental Organizations, on the other hand, promulgate these laws and
carry out the services those laws stipulate.13
Additionally, the Millennium Development Goals have called for gender equality and equal
political participation through its target and goal oriented approach. These form the basis of
actions and initiatives taken by UN Women.14

7KH:RUNRI1*2V
The United Nations and national
7KHV\VWHPRIQRPLQDWLRQLQWKH
governments are not the only rout to
parties is dominated by male
success. Non-governmental organizations
chauvinism. The access to training and
SOD\ D ODUJH SDUW LQ JHQGHU HTXDOLW\V
funds is discriminatory towards women.
[Women] are portrayed as wife,
success. In 2006, the Rwandan Association
mistress, girlfriend or mother; [thus]
of Local Government Authorities partnered
illustrating how strongly the role of
with the National :RPHQV&RXQFLOWRKROG
women is affected by the existing
trainings to increase local political
retrograde patriarchal mentality.
participation. The training prepared more
- Marie-Claire Faray, DRC
than 2,300 female candidates for the
constitutional quota. Women were able to
Source: www.unwomen.org
win 30 percent of the seats in the district
government.15 Other initiatives include the
1DWLRQDO'HPRFUDF\,QVWLWXWHVGLVWULEXWLRQRIPDQXDOVWRORFDOZRPHQOHDGHUVLQ%XUNLQD
Faso. The manual included important information about council administration, the political
process, and responsibility of the councilor. These two examples are only a little part of what
1*2VDUHGRLQJRQWKHJURXQGZLWKORFDOZRPHQVJURXSV16
Recommendations for Creating a Resolution
Countries have had varying degrees of success in achieving gender parity in government. This
makes is difficult to take international action towards the issue because some countries would
like to keep the status quo, and some want to work harder to achieve this goal. It is imperative to
find a balance between ensuring the solutions can be applied to all countries and staying on
policy$JRYHUQPHQWVVRYHUHLJQW\LVFUXFLDOO\LPSRUWDQWLQWKLVWRSLFDQGPHPEHUVWDWHVFRXOG
find some aspects intrusive.
Due to the broad nature of this topic, breaking up solutions by regions or sub-topics could ensure
progress is made broadly but also that blanket solutions are not created for all types of countries.
Solutions should focus on practicality and be creative. Remember, although there are great
existing resources to draw upon, sometimes a brand new committee, treaty, or idea could also
work.

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Questions to Consider:
1. In your country, do women and men have the same rights?? Can they
participate in political and civil issues?
2. Has your country had female heads of state or high level government
positions? How many women are in the legislator or parliament?
3. What percentage of the female population of your country votes?
4. $UHWKHUHDQ\ODZVLQSODFHWRLQFUHDVHZRPHQVSDUWLFLSDWLRQ"$UHWKHUH
any quotas in place? Or are there laws to hinder their participation?
5. What initiatives or projects has your country created or implemented to
increase political participation or higher education for women?

Research Aid
7KH 8QLWHG 1DWLRQV :RPHQV ZHEVLWH WKDW SURYLGHV LQIRUPDWLRQ DQG QHZV DERXW the
advancement of women
x UN Women, http://www.unwomen.org
UN Women Watch is an arm of UN Women that promotes the bodyVHQGHDYRUV and assists in
promoting them to the public.
x UN Women Watch, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/
The World Fact Book provides information and statistics about a countryVHFRQRPLFSROLWLFDO,
and social issues.
x World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
The National Democracy Institute has specific projects and reports focused on wRPHQVpolitical
participation.
x National Democracy Institute,
http://www.ndi.org/womens-political-participation

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Terms and Concepts


Non-Governmental Organization: usually a non-profit organization that operates
independently of a government on the local, national or international level.
Gender Equality: the treatment of men and women equally.
Political Participation: the mechanism for people of country to make decisions about social
and political issues.
National Democracy Institute: a non-profit, nonpartisan organization working to support and
strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and
accountability in government.
Quotas: a fixed number or amount of people or items.

References.
1

$ERXW81:RPHQ8QLWHG1DWLRQV(QWLW\IRU*HQGHU(TXDOLW\DQGWKH(PSRZHUPHQWRI:RPHQKWWSZZZXQZRPHQRUJDERXW-us/aboutun-women/.
2

6XVDQ0DUNKDP6WUHQJWKHQLQJ:RPHQV5ROHVLQ3DUOLDPHQWNational Democracy Institute, May 23, 2013,


http://www.ndi.org/files/Markham-Oxford-Journal-052312.pdf.
3

)DU]DQD%DUL:RPHQV3ROLWLFDO3DUWLFLSDWLRQ,VVXHVDQG&KDOOHQJHVUnited Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, November


3, 2005, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/enabling-environment2005/docs/EGM-WPD-EE-2005-EP.12%20%20draft%20F.pdf.
4

5HSRUW2QOLQHGLVFXVVLRQRQ:RPHQSROLWLFDOSDUWLFLSDWLRQDQGGHFLVLRQ-PDNLQJLQ$IULFDDivision for the Advancement of Women of the


United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. September 4, 2007,
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/TechnicalCooperation/docs/Online%20Discussion%20Report%20Africa%20FINAL.pdf.
5

-HVVLFD*RPH]DQG&DUOD.RSSHOO$GYDQFLQJ:RPHQV&DXFXVHVLQ/HJLVODWXUHVThe Institute for Inclusive Security,


http://www.ndi.org/files/Advancing%20Women's%20Caucuses%20in%20Legislatures.pdf.

:RPHQV3ROLWLFDO3DUWLFLSDWLRQNational Democracy Institute, http://www.ndi.org/womens-political-participation.

:RPHQVSROLWLFDOSDUWLFLSDWLRQPXFKEHDFFHOHrated through quotas- 81RIILFLDOUN News Centre. March 2, 2012


http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsid=41445&cr=un#.UpoEbxaTPZv.

'HPRFUDWLF$XGLW8.7KH6FRWWLVK3DUOLDPHQWVUHFRUGRQZRPHQVUHSUHVHQWDWLRQLVLQWKHEDODQFH/DVWPRGLILHG6ep 11, 2013.


http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=1392.

:RPHQVSROLWLFDOSDUWLFLSDWLRQPXFKEHDFFHOHUDWHGWKURXJKTXRWDV- 81RIILFLDOUN News Centre. March 2, 2012


http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsid=41445&cr=un#.UpoEbxaTPZv.

10

-HVVLFD*RPH]'HVLJQLQJ3URJUDPVWR,QFUHDVH:RPHQV3DUWLFLSDWLRQLQ/RFDO*RYHUQPHQWThe Institute for Inclusive Security,


http://www.inclusivesecurity.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/08/1946_designing_programs_to_increase_womens_participation_in_local_government.pdf
11

UN Women, "Fourth World Conference on Women." http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/.

12

UN Women, "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women." http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

13

Ibid.

14

-HVVLFD*RPH]'HVLJQLQJ3URJUDPVWR,QFUHDVH:RPHQV3DUWLFLSDWLRQLQ/RFDO*RYHUQPHQWThe Institute for Inclusive Security,


http://www.inclusivesecurity.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/08/1946_designing_programs_to_increase_womens_participation_in_local_government.pdf
15

7DNHD6HDW:RPHQV3ROLWLFDO5HSUHVHQWDWLRQLQ6XE-6DKDUDQ$IULFDSANGONeT, July 21, 2010, http://www.ngopulse.org/article/takeseat-women-s-political-representation-sub-saharan-africa.

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16

Ibid.

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