Emang Basadi, in collaboration with African Women’s Development Fund, has carried out research on the status of women in politics to assess perceptions and attitudes of the political players and the general public on women’s involvement and participation in political decision-making.
“These challenges include constitutional provisions and laws, institutional arrangements including party policies and party regulations, level of support by political parties beInG strategies for coherence and engagement of women, campaigns where women are not given enough financial support by their political parties, level of resources and other facilitation factors like funding, education, knowledge and exposure compared to their male counterparts, to mention but a few,” the study indicated.
It also indicates that men often use campaign tactics that marginalise women; including reproductive roles of women, use of elicit material-based relationships to gain favours from women, use of feminine attributes to discourage women from participating including use of different standards and demands placed on women and men, while women are expected to prove their worth before they can be given the opportunity to serve in political office.
Furthermore, the report indicated that women were less likely than men to have the education, exposure and confidence of the public; contacts to facilitate their effective engagement and resources needed to support their endeavours to become effective leaders because of their capacity and skills gaps.“Currently there is little opportunity for women to work together outside their political party spaces. Current modes of support in this regard are unstructured. Reasons include absence of structured common platforms for women across party lines, strong allegiance to political parties and prohibitive party regulations that disallow women to support women in other political parties,” the report noted.
Based on identified challenges and proposed strategies, the report indicates that a framework of action for women’s involvement and participation in political decision-making was developed. It states that the framework proposes prioritised areas of focus, deliverables, activities, lead implementing agencies, partners and time frames; for government, political parties, non-governmental organisations, media and development partners. The framework presents synthesised contributions of representatives of different political parties, government officials and non-state actors.
While urging that women bear the responsibility to engage in meaningful political involvement and participation, it notes that the framework primarily locates responsibility and accountability for the actualisation of a system-wide gender transformation, which should lead to gender equity, and equality for various political parties. It states that given individual political parties were at different stages towards increased involvement and participation of women in political decision-making, each political party is urged to identify areas from the framework, which can enhance their efforts towards attaining gender parity in political involvement, participation and decision-making.
The framework also emphasises law reform to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of gender. It also underscores critical importance of setting standards to ensure ‘fair play’, the vital role of research, monitoring implementation and regular reporting of performance as well as learning from the experience; in order to improve adopted policies and programmes. It pointed out that a clear roadmap should be developed to articulate next steps that should be taken to advance the process initiated through conducting this study.
According to the report, the debate on equal participation and involvement of women and men in decision-making, particularly in the political space had been active for the past five decades, gaining momentum with every UN Conference on Women from the first one held in Rio de Janeiro (1975); through Copenhagen (1980); Nairobi (1985) and the fourth held in Beijing (1995). It says the Fourth World Conference on Women drew attention to the persisting inequality between men and women in decision-making.
It also states that The Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) reaffirmed that women’s persistent exclusion from formal politics in particular raised a number of specific questions regarding the achievement of effective democratic transformation, in practice. It also undermines the concept of democracy, which assumes that the right to vote and to be elected should be equally applied to all citizens, both women and men.
“The absence of women from political decision-making has a negative impact on the entire process of democratisation. In addition, democratic institutions, including Parliament, do not automatically achieve gender equality in terms of representation, or in terms of policy agenda setting and accountability. Proposed strategies to achieve gender-balanced composition in governmental bodies and committees, as well as in public administration and in judiciary include: through setting specific targets, establishing a positive action policy to integrate women into elective positions in political parties as well as to promote and protect women’s political rights and to reconcile work and family responsibilities for both men and women,” it notes.