On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Congress co-organised a conference on “Women and Local Governance” on 7 March in Yerevan, Armenia, jointly with the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Programme, the Embassy of Sweden in Armenia and the Communities Association of Armenia (CAA). The discussions focused on legal mechanisms for women’s economic empowerment as a prerequisite or contributing factor for their political participation.
Addressing the conference, Carla DEJONGHE (Belgium, ILDG), Congress member and Deputy of the Brussels-Capital Regional Parliament, emphasised the importance of involving women in local politics to “make sure that needs of both women and men are taken into account when public policies are developed and implemented”. She called on women in Armenia to advocate for quotas in order to have access to both local and national representative bodies, and to invest in building their skills and capacities to enter politics.
Emin YERITSYAN, CAA President and Head of the Armenian Delegation to the Congress, highlighted the role women play in local government and political life. “Women’s participation in decision-making is a prerequisite for a democratic society. The Government of Armenia should introduce gender quotas in local elections to reverse the decreasing representation of women in local government bodies”. In this regard, the CAA has issued a statement to the Government in support of a proportional electoral system with gender quotas.
On the eve of the conference, the Congress and the CAA organised a workshop for young local leaders, aimed at raising their awareness of principles and policies for promoting women’s representation in local governments. Participants exchanged views with Carla DEJONGHE on tools and mechanisms that take into account the needs and concerns of both men and women in the political decision-making.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities co-organised the Conference within the “Institutional support to Communities Association of Armenia” project, implemented by the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, and financed by the Government of Switzerland and the Council of Europe. The Project is implemented in the framework of the four-year programme on “Improvement of the local self-governance system” of the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation.
Armenia joined the Council of Europe in 2001, and ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2002 and its Additional Protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority in 2013. Countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter imposes compliance with a minimum number of rights, which are the bedrock of European local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures respect for these principles.