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Strengthening women’s political participation: An analysis of the impact of women’s parliamentary networks in Europe and Central Asia

Gender equality is fundamental to responsive and accountable democratic societies. Women’s representation in elected institutions in equal proportion to men is key to the credibility and legitimacy of parliaments, national assemblies and local governments. Yet, globally, just over a fifth of members of parliament are women.

To combat discriminatory legislation and policies and improve gender equality outcomes in policymaking, elected representatives in countries in the region have established structures and strategic plans to improve women’s political participation and gender equality. UNDP has facilitated the creation of such structures in many countries, recognizing the important role they play in empowering women as parliamentary representatives, supporting the emergence of gender-sensitive parliaments, and adopting gender-sensitive policy and legislative frameworks. The UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017 highlights the critical importance of gender equality and women’s participation in decision-making to sustainable development, and calls for the empowerment of women as voters, political actors and decision-makers.

This paper examines UNDP’s parliamentary assistance programming and support to existing gender equality initiatives in political participation, in particular, the role and impact of parliamentary structures for gender equality in the ECIS region. It illuminates existing and planned UNDP parliamentary assistance initiatives, highlights good practice and identifies entry points for replication or scaling up. Its findings are intended to assist members of parliament and parliamentary institutions as well as civil society organizations and international organizations in advancing gender equality in parliamentary practices.

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