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establishing relations and promoting these issues with key members of civil society as well as with media producers. An example of this is the Pancyprian Movement for Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities in Cyprus, which promotes public awareness for women to enter politics.

2. Work in partnership with men. This entails designing programmes, whether inside or outside specific political forums, that take into account men’s concerns and perspectives with respect to solidarity with women politicians. This idea is now gaining credibility with the growing realization that women need the support of their male colleagues, partners and electorate to enhance the effectiveness of their strategies and increase the value of their social and political message.

3. Enlarge the pool of eligible, aspirant women. This means enhancing women’s interest in becoming politicians as well as increasing their involvement in politics. Eligibility for and involvement in politics is contributed partly to factors such as access to education, income and time, as well as more specific resources such as knowledge and information about politics and political experience. Policies to enhance women’s access to higher education, paid employment and various social and economic organizations provide a context for political participation that is increasingly hospitable to women. However, even where they lack adequate resources to politically participate, women are devising creative strategies to mobilize resources that would facilitate their access. For example, in India some women drew upon transitional networks of extended family, neighbourhood links and other women-centred spheres to enable them to gather the resources they may require.

4. Take positive action. Quotas have been particularly effective in increasing women’s presence in Parliaments/Legislatures. Both incremental and “fast-track” models have been effectively used. An

example of the incremental model is in Sweden, where women used several means to press their parties to nominate women candidates and place them in favourable positions on party lists. They also conducted campaigns to promote women candidates and issued proposals to get women into better positions on party lists. This process of securing substantial increases in women’s electoral fortunes was achieved without recourse to formal compulsory quotas. Recommendations, arguments and the threat to press for quotas succeeded in setting targets requiring women to get 40 per cent of the nominations. Once these targets were set, considerable progress was achieved. Eighteen such models have been more commonly used in transitional or democratizing countries. 5. Amend laws to allow

positive discrimination. In the past, governments did not use the law to compel parties to promote women, not least because such policies often ran against other legal principles. But this is an area of change as governments have legislated to compel (Belgium), to provide incentives (France, Italy) or to permit (UK) measures to guarantee better representation of women legislators. Moreover, some countries have introduced laws requiring that women hold a certain proportion of seats on government-appointed bodies. Such laws were introduced in Denmark in 1985, Finland in 1987, Sweden in 1987, the Netherlands in 1992 and Germany in 1994. Published statistics in these countries indicate that women’s participation in such bodies has steadily risen ever since. 6. Raise the general standard of living and access to resources of all women. The high achievements of Scandinavian women stem from a combination of government policy, party initiative and demographic change. The remarkable position of women in Scandinavian politics rests on social/demographic foundations involving considerable changes in the structure of the women’s family, economic and social lives. These are

probably irreversible. The policies on equality of representation have included government equality reforms operating in conjunction with the influence of the women’s movement, functioning both autonomously and through the political parties. To some extent there is feedback between demographic and political change as policies have included explicit attempts to change demographics and the gendered division of labour both in the family and in paid employment.

7. Caucus and network. This allows women MPs to share information, ideas, resources and support. Networks may be party- based, cross-party (very rare), local, regional and international. Meetings, conferences, seminars, newsletters

...the same way as men’s political input is in constant need of improvement, women should not be complacent about their

contributions to the political process, nor...take whatever gains are achieved for granted.”

and electronic mail links are useful networking devices. Consultations with women’s organizations and research gauging the needs of women (demand) and their practical constraints (supply) enable women MPs to target their efforts to activities that will be most useful and effective. In this regard training on the use of information and communication technology, as well as on emerging e-government practices, will become increasingly necessary to place women firmly at the cutting edge of governance as a whole.

8. Effective use of the media.

Women MPs must use the mass media, particularly the resources offered by women broadcasters, editors and journalists, to communicate their concerns and highlight relevant issues. As well as enhancing the image of women MPs and promoting their political ideas, the mass media are instrumental in educating and mobilizing voters, particularly in rural areas. It is an important concern particularly in developing countries where women, with limited resources, may have difficulty reaching out to these voters. 9. Collect, monitor and

disseminate statistics and facts about women’s political participation and representation. This enables women’s advocates in Parliament to analyze the position of women in decision making and to define problems, devise appropriate solutions and seek political support for their preferred solutions.


The ultimate objective of enhancing the quality of women’s political participation is a goal that must constantly be worked towards. In much the same way as men’s political input is in constant need of improvement, women should not be complacent about their contributions to the political process, nor should they take whatever gains are achieved for granted. Political participation is a process that is developing and evolving. The actors involved in this process should always be prepared to strive to keep ahead of the changes. Both men and women involved in this process should work together to be agents of change, constantly aware that obstacles are but means to realize new and evolving strategies.

Politicians and Parliamentarians of both sexes have contributed to advancing women’s political participation in general and particularly within legislative structures. Although the road ahead is long, the lessons learned from the accumulation of experiences can, and will, significantly illuminate the hopefully smoother path that lies ahead.

The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 177

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