“The Congress recommendation of 2016 placed emphasis on several key factors to accelerate women’s political participation and representation at local and regional levels”, said Eirini Dourou (Greece, SOC/G/PD), Congress Spokesperson on Gender Equality during the round table on SDG 5: “Accelerators of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, held on 7 April 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. The participants of the round table, organised as part of the UN ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, exchanged on how governments can promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the COVID-19 recovery process, considering gender-differentiated impacts of the pandemic.
The Congress Spokesperson presented Congress recommendations in promoting gender equality: adoption of electoral laws requiring the parity of women and men on candidate lists, introduction of the system of “pairing” women and men appointed to elected seats from party lists following the elections, and implementation of quotas for candidates in elections, to guarantee the minimum representation. “In the Congress itself, for example, we introduced since 2007 a 30% minimum requirement of women in national delegations, which has led in practice to the actual representation of 42% today – from 12% back in 1994 when the Congress was established,” she stated.
Ms Dourou underlined that the local level was a springboard for women’s participation at all levels of decision-making, serving as a school for building capacities, experience and self-confidence. “Women’s empowerment should not be limited to one Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 5, however crucial it is. We strongly believe that all SDGs must benefit from the input of women – the more diverse perspectives are taken into account, the better our policies will benefit all of our citizens,” she concluded.
The Congress actively supports efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls at the local and regional level through both the adoption of texts and participation by its members in events/conferences. To strengthen gender equality, the Congress has developed activities and encourages local authorities to provide political efforts to: increase the decision-making power of women, guarantee women’s rights, and ensure the integration of women from religious and cultural minorities.