Decentralization and Women's Political Participation

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Decentralization and Women's Political Participation

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION CIRCLE 2011:

The Discussion Circle on “Decentralization and Women's Political Participation” was initiated in 2008 and concluded in 2010.

The members discussed on the importance to empower and involve women in local government as decision makers, planners and managers to meet the challenges of sustainable human development.

This summary of the discussion circle is based on your contributions and we hope that if you find this interesting you would be interested in participating at other ongoing discussion circles. To read click here.

Introduction Message:

Many women first engage in politics at the local or municipal level. However recent decentralization trends have not necessarily led to greater participation of women in local councils and as mayors of towns and villages. The findings of recent research by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in fact indicate that even where there are quotas, women are often treated as proxies for male family members or are simply ignored while the real decisions take place when women are not in the room. While there are shining exceptions – some women have been extremely influential at the local level – the recent international conference on decentralization, local power and women’s rights developed a series of recommendations to improve the capacity of women to participate effectively in local decision-making. This discussion circle is intended to continue the rich dialogue that began in Mexico city in November 2008, and to build on the recommendations through shared experiences.

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iKNOW Politics's picture

Dear Members of iKNOW Politics, You may be aware of an exciting and active E-Discussion on Women in Local Governments". If you would like to share your experiences and stories on working with women in politics we encourage you to log in and share your thoughts. The four questions we are exploring in this E-Discussion are: • Enabling ParticipationStrategies for constituency building and political successImpact of women in local governmentMayors Look forward to hearing more from you. Best iKNOW Politics Team

Musu Wangolo Stewart's picture

I am joining these discussions a bit late but I find the topics to be very interesting and would like to share my thoughts on Enabling Participation. Women have come a long way in making their voices heard in government. The path to this bit of achievement yet seems riddled with challenges that cut both ways - from male-dominated political enterprises and women organizations divided by confusion and dominated by women leaders who fail to communicate effectively and send the wrong message to other women. I briefly read a few comments posted on various topics in these discussions; one thing that I did not read about is the challenges faced by women within "women's organizations" that create stumbling blocks and DISABLE the full participation of women in politics. While I agree that male-dominated politics severly hinders progress in enabling full participation of women, I also know that women have their share of the blame. In my experience interacting with women organizations I came to the realization that: 1. The quest for political recognition and participation of women became more of a conflict among women (mostly based on the problem of representation) rather than a joint collaborative effort to promote women's full participation. This conflict results into disunity and distrust among women and their leaders. 2. Women who seek political endorsements for personal gains rather than promoting and seeking to enable the full participation of ALL women become obstacles to the cause of enabling participation thereby causing strong advocates and activists to lose faith and confidence in the process. Rather than mobilize, such an act de-mobilizes women. In the name of enabling participation, political endorsements become avenues for personal achievement that deter well-meaning women. Women who lead should be selfless and committed to enabling the full participation of women in politics. We still struggle to be heard and be allowed full participation, despite numerous conferences and resolutions by caring world bodies. Women in politics bear the torch and should lead the way for other women who have aspirations for politics or development by setting good examples. They should hold that torch with pride and excellence and continue to show commitment to the cause rather than allowing their actions to push other women away. To enable women to understand the full meaning of political participation, women leaders should engage in strategic communication at the grassroot level. Communicating the process of choosing leaders and what is expected of them should be conducted in a manner that is clear and understood at all levels within the organizations. Effective communication allows women to understand what is at stake, the competence required to carry out the task (which allows them to make informed choices in leadership selection and hold them accountable)and the process involved in undertaking and successfully implementing the task.