Issue Brief on Elections

Sunday, January 1, 2006
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

Women's equal participation in political life, as voters, candidates and members of electoral committees, plays a crucial role in the advancement of women and the reconstruction of society following armed conflict. Universally, women remain underrepresented in political and decision-making positions, which results in the perpetuation of policies and practices that do not serve the needs of women and men equally. This disparity is especially dangerous in post-conflict settings where the voices of women must be heard in order to ensure equitable and sustainable reconstruction. In the Beijing Platform for Action (1995), more than 180 governments agreed that "Achieving the goal of equal participation of women and men in decision-making will provide a balance that more accurately reflects the composition of society and is needed in order to strengthen democracy and promote its proper functioning". Women's equal participation in decision-making is essential for justice and democracy and is a necessary component for women's interests to be taken into account after factions have laid down their arms. The Inter-Parliamentary Union offers comparative data on the percentage of women in each national parliament as well as information on women's participation in all political life. If the participation of women and the integration of women's perspectives at all levels of decision-making continue to be lacking, the goals of equality, development, and peace cannot be attained.

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