Washington, DC – Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President of IRI, testified today before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight chaired by Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) at the hearing entitled Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society.
While highlighting many areas where women have made great strides in closing the gender gap, Van Rest noted that, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Global Gender Gap Index “only 17 percent of the political outcomes gap has been closed.”
Van Rest went on to highlight the success women − with the support of organizations like IRI, the National Democratic Institute and theInstitute for Inclusive Security – are achieving, “with the ever growing recognition of the need for women’s empowerment along with training and mentorship programs such as IRI’s Women’s Democracy Network (WDN), women are progressing and achieving much in the political field.”
- In Morocco’s June 2009 elections 3,406 women were elected to municipal councils a dramatic increase from 127 women councilors in prior elections.
- In Serbia a multi-partisan group of women, the Network for Political Accountability, documents and tracks politicians’ campaign promises and their subsequent activity in government.
- The Kenya WDN country chapter took a leading role in reviewing the draft constitution, and recommended that Kenya’s Human Rights and Gender Commission be separated into two individual commissions to highlight the Gender Commission’s role. The current draft of the constitution includes a provision which, if passed in the August 2010 referendum, would give parliament the power to restructure the commission.
- The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) in Iraq trained more than 400 women in advance of the January 2009 provincial council elections. Out of the total of 110 women currently sitting on provincial councils, 42 percent are WLI trainees.
- The Movement of Afghan Sisters (MAS) helped mobilize 25,000 women voters in the August 2009 presidential and provincial council elections. MAS was the only women’s organization to successfully field candidates for provincial council seats, and 27 of its supported candidates were elected filling 23 percent of the 117 female quota seats allocated nationwide.
- The Peruvian Women’s Roundtable, a legislative women’s caucus, is taking the lead in pushing important legislative issues, such as a new domestic violence bill.
- In Bolivia, women legislators partnered with women political party leaders and local council members to introduce gender promotion legislation to enforce women’s political rights by having the National Electoral Court intervene in cases in which women are forced to leave their elected positions. Although the bill was not passed, the National Electoral Court and the nine Departmental Courts adopted key parts of this bill and included it in their official modifications to the electoral law.
In citing these examples, Van Rest said, “These examples should give us the hope and impetus to double our efforts to support women in democratic development.”Top