First forum of women-deputies of local councils calls for introduction of gender quotas in local councils in Kyrgyzstan
On 17 January 2017, over 30 newly elected women deputies of local councils met in Bishkek for the First Forum of Women-Deputies of Local Councils. The Forum focused on discussion of the outcome of the 2015-2016 local elections in regard to women elected, challenges faced by women-candidates in the electoral process, and the way forward to increase women’s political participation at local and national levels.
Forum participants developed recommendations on how to increase representation of women in local councils, the Government and national Parliament, and how to improve monitoring and implementation of national gender policies and commitments. In the interactive session with representatives of the Government, members of Parliament, and civil society, participants and the newly elected women deputies discussed required legislative measures to increase women’s political participation. The Minister of Labour and Social Development, the Director of State Agency on Local Self Government, the Deputy Chair of the Central Election Commission, and a member of Parliament - all female - and the leader of a Parliamentary faction answered questions of the audience on how best to implement national gender commitments. Several members of Parliament expressed their support for introduction of gender quotas in local councils and agreed to support a legislative initiative in Parliament. “It is necessary to overcome stereotypes about women’s political participation”, said the Leader of a Parliamentary faction Mr. Tekebaev. “It is difficult and requires time, but it is necessary for development of Kyrgyzstan. We should integrate gender equality policies and women’s rights across all national policies of the country”.
The Resolution of the Forum calls for introduction of special measures to ensure women’s participation in the councils at all levels of no less than 30%; to strengthen oversight over implementation of the legislation on gender equality, including prevention of early marriages, domestic violence, and women’s political participation; and to ensure an annual increase in representation of women holding political positions in state and municipal organizations.
The First Forum of Women-Deputies of Local Councils was held with the support of the UN Women Country Office in the Kyrgyz Republic, UNDP in the Kyrgyz Republic and the British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic at the initiative of the Center for Gender Studies, Alliance for Budget Transparency and the Women Support Center. Over the course of 2016 UN Women within its Joint Programme on Rural Women Economic Empowerment and UNDP under its project on women’s political participation capacitated over 200 rural women on how to run for local elections, develop their platform, speak publicly, and work with voters.
Background information: over the last twenty years there has been a steady trend of reduction in the representation of women among the deputies of local councils in Kyrgyzstan. In 2004 women held 19% of local council seats, in 2008 - 17%, and in 2012 - 12% of the seats. Today the figure is about 10%. In about 20% of local assemblies no women are present. There is a need for reserving seats for women as a temporary measure, to ensure the representation of women in legislative bodies of local councils at the level of not less than 30% and through the participation of women ensure that local development addresses the challenges of all groups of population, which in turn will contribute to reduced social tensions, and the peaceful and inclusive development of the country.