Leadership and Political Participation


leadership-and-participation-1From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are restricted. Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, the private sector or academia. Women face several obstacles to participating in political life. Structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s options to run for office. Capacity gaps mean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders. Individual women have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all. leadership-and-participation-2 UN Women’s programmes on leadership and participation are guided by a history of international commitments to women’s representation. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women upholds women’s right to participate in public life, while the Beijing Platform for Action calls for removing barriers to equal participation. The Millennium Development Goals measure progress towards gender equality in part by the proportion of women in parliamentary seats. UN Women advocates for legislative and constitutional reforms to ensure women’s fair access to political spheres—as voters, candidates, elected officials and civil service members. UN Women collaborates with UN country teams and work with civil society on programmes so that elections uphold women’s rights, including to vote and campaign free from electoral violence. At the local level, the Metro NY chapter collaborated with the YWCA and NYC Councilwoman Laurie A. Cumbo to host an expert panel discussion and reception in mid-January. The panel speakers discussed CEDAW and its recent successes in San Francisco and Los Angeles in regards to ratification and implementation. Attendees and the general public were then invited an evening wine reception benefitting UN Women. The evening was a success, drawing more than 100 local politicians, NGOs and non-profits!