Leaders Note Enacting Legislative Quotas is Best Way to Ensure Women Empowerment
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 15 December, 2016: Parliaments should provide legislative support to ensure gender equity and women empowerment, reiterated experts during a panel discussion titled ‘Transforming Parliaments for a Better Future’ which took place today at the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament (GSWS 2016). The panel also emphasised that legislative quotas are the fastest and most efficient way towards achieving this goal.
The eminent panel of experts included His Excellency Saber Chowdhury, President, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Her Excellency Gabriela Rivadeneira, President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Her Excellency Maria Lohela, Speaker of the Parliament of Finland, Her Excellency Leonne Theodore-John, Speaker of the House of Assembly of St. Lucia, Her Excellency Ester D.S. Dlamini, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly of Swaziland, Her Excellency Akja Taji-yewna Nurberdiyeva, Speaker of the Parliament (Mejlis) of Turkmenistan, and Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, United Arab Emirates. The discussion was led by Ms. Mary Hanafin, Councilor at the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council of Ireland.
The panel dwelled on viable models of transformation, as well as on the methods of expediting the transformational process. In her opening speech, Mary Hanafin, Councillor on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Ireland, emphasised that parliaments across the world should lead the transformational process to facilitate gender parity, adding: “Achieving sustainable goals for Agenda 2030 calls for citizen engagement, national participation and international cooperation.”
Referring to the heavy responsibility that world parliaments bear towards fulfilling the valid expec-tations of their citizens, His Excellency Saber Chowdhury, President, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said: “We need to enhance capacities of individual parliamentarians, create an internal bench-marking system and develop a sustainable goals agenda that is achievable through coalition of integrated partnerships.'
Addressing her point on why women make excellent leaders, Her Excellency Gabriela Rivad-eneira, President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, said: “In addition to an inherent instinct for survival, women have the ability to manage situations. They also have the emotional awareness, empathy and sensitivity to understand others’ needs, which makes them capable of handling any position.” Her Excellency Rivadeneira called for legislature against all forms of discrimination, along with active participation from women and youth.
Her Excellency Maria Lohela, Speaker of Parliament of Finland elaborated on the models of transformation that have been effective in her own country. “Parliamentarians should question themselves on whether they have been able to gain public trust through the keeping of their promises,” she said. She stressed on the need to engage citizens and opposition in the legislative process.
“Legislative quotas are the most effective and fastest way to overcome social taboos and achieve gender equity,” emphasised Her Excellency Leonne Theodore-John, Speaker of the House of Assembly of St. Lucia. She advocated a combination of voluntary and legislative quotas across all decision-making positions, adding: “Women in parliaments would not only serve as role models, but will also encourage youth engagement.”
As the only woman to have been publicly elected into the country’s parliament, Her Excellency Ester D.S. Dlamini, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly of Swaziland, remarked: “Women empowerment remains a key challenge in most countries, including mine. It is indeed a matter of concern that women themselves are not voting other women into the parliament.” She also urged parliaments to ensure opportunities for peer learning as well as to share best practices and les-sons learned.
Her Excellency Akja Tajiyewna Nurberdiyeva, Speaker of the Parliament (Mejlis) of Turkmeni-stan shared her country’s achievements in the past decade with regard to women empowerment. She said: “This is not the time to be complacent. Women must keep moving forward and do rele-vant work as parliamentarians.”
Her Excellency Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness of the UAE, said: “The real work of governments is not to just provide services and infrastructure, but also to create happi-ness. Happiness is an individual choice. Governments can provide an enabling environment, and empower people so they can choose to be happy. Long term, authentic and sustainable happi-ness, and not just GDP, should be the measure of success of a nation.” She reiterated that the UAE was built on the notion of happiness, concluding: “Happiness is not a national endeavour - it is a global one.”
The penultimate session of GSWS brought to light the processes that various nations have adopted and aspire to in order to bring about the required transformation towards women em-powerment. The panel unanimously agreed that pursuing women empowerment and gender eq-uity are the keys to achieving long term sustainability, with legislative and voluntary quotas as the best way forward. Initiatives such as GSWS were welcomed and applauded as decisive steps in the right direction in moving towards a better future.