In light of the fact that we are in the midst of 16 Days of Activism much discussion is evolving around women’s participation in the very systems that formerly perpetuated gender based violence and/or discrimination.
The issue of women’s participation in the political system is recently bearing much attention in the international sphere. It is being viewed as something not only important but essential to the positive progression of the state. It is valued within the Millennium Development Goals as a indicator of the success of Goal3 “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women”.
No country has yet achieved full gender parity in their national parliament. In the 1990s there was a significant decline in women’s participation at the federal level; also in the 1990s, the world witnessed some of the worst human atrocities executed by national governments or in light of the over-throw of national governments. The DRC, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka records some of the greatest non-combatant casualties since the Second World War. Following the subsequent end, ceasefires, and suspensions of these armed conflicts women gradually rose to take the reigns of the nations’ governance to rehabilitate their respective countries to a state of non-conflict and growth.
In a notable example, Liberia which was under the brutal reign of Charles Taylor between 1997-2003, was liberated by an organised and peaceful movement led by women. Today Liberia boasts a strong female leadership with strengthened opportunities for women.
Now with the world’s attention turned to the Arab Spring. Tunisia has taken measures to see gender parity in its Constituent Assembly, but Egypt has seemingly taken a step back.
In this insightful article by Nadya Khalife we see hesitation by Egyptian women to play an active role in the governance of their newly liberated state.
Liberian and Rwandan examples show that women in politics is incremental to positive and progressive change in post-revolution and post-armed conflict. India and the Philippines are examples to show that women in political power make significant contribution to the furtherance of women’s rights through the legislative process. Though none of these countries have reached full gender parity at the national level as of yet, women’s participation in the political system has proved to be necessary to the rebuilding and viable protection of women’s rights.