Minority and indigenous women in decision-making

Panellists identified the following points as essential for overcoming the obstacles and building a democracy which would not be elitist and lack legitimacy because of the absence of women in general, and minority and indigenous women in particular:

  • The choice of electoral system; proportional systems were more favourable for women; there seemed to be a general support for quotas.
  • Participation in political parties, as they are key to promoting women’s issues. In this respect, Sophia Abdi Noor mentioned that in Kenya two political parties were led by women, but not supported by women. Women rather joined the big parties. It was important that women support women.
  • The promotion of women in all spheres of life (economic, cultural…) and not only politics is important. Support should be given to women entrepreneurs.
  • Numbers are crucial. Only if women reach a critical mass within parliaments will they be able to make a difference. One also has to see what is behind numbers. Available data says nothing about the percentage of minority and indigenous women among women MPs, about the interests who these women represent and whether or not they are supporting a transformative agenda. Geraldine Fraser (UNDP) referred to Nepal which was leading South-East Asia in terms of women’s representation in parliaments. There had been a decision to achieve this; first one needed the numbers and then content could be added. The IPU was invited to collect data on minority and indigenous women in parliaments.
  • Training of women in political skills; ensuring greater access of women to technology and knowledge networks such as Iknowpolitics.
  • The establishment of cross-party women’s caucuses and indigenous women’s organisations was also mentioned.

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