Eliminating Discriminatory Laws and Closing Gender Gaps



Eliminating Discriminatory Laws and Closing Gender Gaps

Worldwide, several challenges to the full realization of women's rights persist, and women continue face discrimination in access to education, work, social protection, inheritance, economic assets, productive resources and participation in decision-making and society at large.

Gender discrimination is defined as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment

or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field." (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly). 

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The e-Discussion will take place from 16 May to 12 June 2016


Addressing gaps: enactment vs. enforcement

  1. Please share concrete examples of reforms from your country (e.g. type of law, actors involved, recipe for success)? What entities exist to report and track impact of these reforms?
  2. Please identify the major challenges to amend and repeal discriminatory provisions in existing laws in your country and /or to introduce new legislation protecting women, including young women, and girls where no law exists and/or implement existing gender equality legislation. If possible, please explain the steps and actors involved in making these changes.


 Measures, mechanisms and institutions

  1. Did your country adopt temporary measures that increased women’s representation in politics and public administration? What gender quality mechanisms or structures exist in your Parliament (committee, caucus etc…)?
  2. Are you aware of the existence of gender analysis efforts and gender impact analysis initiatives taken in your country’s governmental or parliamentary bodies? Can you share information on the way such analysis are carried out? Can you share good practices and lessons learned in this regard?

      Collective action

  1.      Can you give successful examples of concerted coordination between decision makers, civil society organizations and women’s rights networks that have made significant changes to legislative frameworks in your country? What factors made it a success? 
  2.      Please provide examples of initiatives that built the capacities of institutions to map, investigate and push for the amendment of laws and if available the positive tangible impacts these had on advancing gender equality in your country.


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[iKNOW Poltics posts this comment on behalf of Dr. Santosh Mishra. Click here to access the full contribution]

Addressing gaps: enactment vs. enforcement:

 Please share concrete examples of reforms from your country (e.g. type of law, actors involved, recipe for success)? What entities exist to report and track impact of these reforms?

A new Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Operational Plan, 2013-2020 (Gender Plan) was approved in 2013. The new plan provides the roadmap for guiding the Asian Development Bank (ADB) operations and recognizes that more needs to be done to reduce gender gaps and disparities across the region. The Plan calls for increased emphasis on improving implementation and monitoring for the delivery of better gender equality results. While gender mainstreaming across all operations will remain the priority approach, direct investments in women and girls will be pursued in different areas.

 Some of the relevant initiatives of the ADB are:

 Investing in gender equality:

In some of poorest borrowing countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia and Lao PDR, the ADB has built schools in remote and rural areas to improve and expand access, provided scholarship to poor girls and trained female teachers to support girls’ school retention rates.  

In Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Timor-Leste, the ADB is providing rural water supply and sanitation to reduce women and girls work burdens. In Vietnam, the ADB is helping ethnic minority girls in 20 of the most disadvantaged districts by building schools with boarding facilities and teacher housing, providing scholarships and training ethnic minority teachers.

Girls’ skills development is being pursued through increasing support for technical and vocational education In Lao PDR and Cambodia to assist girls make the transition from school to work and enhance their chances of better employment outcomes.

In Uzbekistan and Nepal, the ADB is providing financial and business services to help women start and expand their business enterprises. In Bangladesh, the ADB has supported women’s economic empowerment through constructing and reserving spaces for women vendors in rural markets; providing employment opportunities for destitute women in road construction and maintenance; helping women farmers to diversify into cash crops that yield higher incomes, and; building the capacity of locally-elected women leaders to give them ‘voice’ in decision-making in local governance institutions.

Even in some of our middle-income countries such as Indonesia and Philippines we are tackling the remaining “pockets of disadvantage” in access to education and health in remote and disadvantaged areas and; supporting conditional cash transfer programs to tackle the demand side issues in education and health.

 Gender mainstreaming tools:

The ADB regularly conducts gender assessments of projects under implementation to assess progress on implementation of the gender and development policy. Also, it engages in policy dialogue in countries and in the region to encourage and support gender-responsive policy and law reforms. Examples include gender equality laws, temporary special measures for women’s representation in local government bodies and community-based organizations, and joint titling by husbands and wives when land is allocated.


The ADB collaborates at the project level with many UN agencies, development partners, and nongovernment organizations in different countries to improve gender equality results.

Sharing knowledge:

The ADB supports gender equity through knowledge products such as country gender assessments, gender mainstreaming tool kits, a guide to mainstream anti-trafficking concerns into projects and research and studies on human trafficking, and gender-responsive HIV prevention programs in infrastructure projects. 

Gender equality within ADB:

The ADB also pursues and supports gender equality within the institution. Females make up nearly 35% of international staff and 27% of senior staff. A new Diversity and Inclusion Framework was adopted in 2013 to ensure a more gender balanced, diverse and inclusive work place.

Please identify the major challenges to amend and repeal discriminatory provisions in existing laws in your country and /or to introduce new legislation protecting women, including young women, and girls where no law exists and/or implement existing gender equality legislation. If possible, please explain the steps and actors involved in making these changes.

There are several challenges ahead:

First, it is critical that the rationale for gender parity is clearly developed and articulated as part of any national process to close economic gender gaps. For example, in Japan, as in many ageing economies, as labour forces shrink and talent shortages emerge, women’s integration into the labour force is key to promoting dynamism. This rationale needs to be clearly articulated by and to government and business leaders, creating the necessary consensus for change.

Second, long-term strategies to address gender diversity ARE NOT designed to withstand political cycles or business investment horizons.

Third, a common starting point and common vision is critical in ensuring the commitment of key actors. For example, Mexico was the first taskforce country in which a status quo assessment of taskforce member companies was executed. Using this information as a basis can help to ensure that commitments are targeted towards identified challenges. Mutual accountability, knowledge sharing and best-practice exchange between companies helps companies adopt the right measures and practices to ensure progress. In addition to wider national analysis, industry-specific analysis is also needed to accelerate impact.

 Fourth, a highly structured, metrics-based approach for the implementation of commitments and tracking progress are also key factors in ensuring continued mobilization, sustained momentum and the sharing of best practices. In addition to individual company commitments, agreement on collective action helps to multiply impact.

Fifth, beyond political and business leadership, the engagement of media, academic experts and civil society representatives helps to ensure transparency and success in this transformation process.

 In Australia, the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Act) replaced the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999. The new, strengthened legislation aims to improve and promote equality for both women and men in the workplace. The Act requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more staff (relevant employers) to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency between 1 April and 31 May each year for the preceding 12 month period (1 April – 31 March reporting period).

Furthermore, for many years the focus of the European Union (EU) action in the field of non-discrimination was on preventing discrimination on the grounds of nationality and gender. A few years ago, however, the EU countries approved unanimously new powers to combat discrimination on the grounds of gender by implementing the principle of equal treatment of men and woman in matters of employment for example.

 Measures, mechanisms and institutions:

Did your country adopt temporary measures that increased women’s representation in politics and public administration? What gender quality mechanisms or structures exist in your Parliament (committee, caucus etc…)?

Women continue to experience significant discrimination related to their participation in public and political life in most domains of the public sphere and in all geographical regions. For example, The European Commission recently acknowledged that: “Across the EU, women are still largely outnumbered by men in positions of responsibility in all fields. The reasons for the under-representation of women in power and decision-making are multifaceted and complex”. There are significant barriers to women’s participation in public and political life that stem from economic, social and cultural issues, as well as from negative stereotypes about women and entrenched gender roles.

In addition to women’s caregiver responsibilities, women’s participation in political and public life can be significantly limited by patriarchal culture, where women are not considered socially fit to enter politics. This can be connected to their stereotyped role as caregivers, such as in the case of Uzbekistan where major media outlets have called for women to return to “the bosom of the family and to refuse the prospect of a public career”. This limiting factor is broadly related to women’s and men’s entrenched gender roles in society, such as in the case of behaviour norms for Cambodian women, known as Chba’p, which constrain their ability to access opportunities outside of the household, or in Timor-Leste, where there exists a dominant patriarchal system that delegates different functions to men and women, excluding women from many decision-making processes, especially in politics. Traditional views on gender roles and stereotypes can be an impediment to the realization of full gender equality and these cultural beliefs can permeate all action within the political and public spheres of the State. Cultural beliefs can constitute direct, indirect and structural discrimination against women.

States have an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, and in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women whether those actions are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.  The case of Bolivia offers a good practice, where the House of Representatives in 2009 passed an Act on anti-gender-based-harassment and violence in politics, to defend the rights of female political candidates in elections from violence and harassment. Included in this Act is the prohibition of pressure, threats, harassment, or persecution against a woman candidate, as well as pressure on a female candidate’s family. Political violence and harassment against women can significantly limit their capacity to engage in public and political life. It is increasingly clear that violence against women not only affects women in the private sphere, but also can hinder their participation in the public sphere and in political life.

Are you aware of the existence of gender analysis efforts and gender impact analysis initiatives taken in your country’s governmental or parliamentary bodies? Can you share information on the way such analysis are carried out? Can you share good practices and lessons learned in this regard?

Some of the country-specific gender evaluation initiatives are:

Nicaragua: Social Interactions with Female Community Leaders Change Aspirations for the Future and Outcomes: In Nicaragua, social interactions with community leaders affect household attitudes and improve program impacts on human capital and productive investments.

Peru: TB Treatment Adherence: Does Gender Make a Difference?: In Peru, a local NGO provided psychological, social, and economic support to families affected by TB and the World Bank assessed how this changed TB treatment adherence in different ways for men and women.              

Haiti: How does life skills and vocational training impact employment and empowerment outcomes? In Haiti, life skills training and vocational training were randomly applied and evaluators are assessing the impact on labor market entry for adolescent girls, empowerment and agency.

Ecuador: What is the role of agency in teenage fertility decisions?  Evaluators are working with the Government of Ecuador to assess what interventions drive changes in decision making and action to deter pregnancy and why.

Argentina: Do infrastructure improvements impact women and men’s self-esteem differently? In Argentina, evaluators will assess how road construction and water sanitation projects affect men and women differently.

Colombia: What are the long term impacts of CCTs on post-secondary education and labor market opportunities for men and women? In Colombia, evaluators are tracking CCT recipients and non-recipients to assess the impacts over the long term.

Bolivia: How does Community Driven Development (CDD) affect empowerment and community participation for men and women? Economists are working with the government of Bolivia to assess the impacts of female and male participation in CDD.

Collective action:

Can you give successful examples of concerted coordination between decision makers, civil society organizations and women’s rights networks that have made significant changes to legislative frameworks in your country? What factors made it a success? 

The active participation of civil society organizations, particularly, women’s groups, in developing security policies and overseeing the structures, policies and practices of security institutions is a critical element of the sector’s accountability.

Example 1: The Policy Advocacy Partnership on Violence against Women and Children in Ghana

The Ark Foundation, Ghana, is an advocacy-based women’s human rights non-governmental organization. To achieve a coordinated policy framework for addressing violence against women and children in Ghana, it spearheaded a Policy Advocacy Partnership comprising state and non-state actors to lobby for the adoption of a National Policy and Plan for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (Act 732 of 2007), and to ensure that the Policy addresses sexual and gender-based violence issues broadly in institutional arrangements. It also successfully lobbied for adoption of an integrated, coordinated approach to addressing violence against women and girls in the policy framework. From 2008 to 2010, the initiative conducted monitoring to assess the status of implementation of the Act.

Example 2: The role of women in Fiji’s national security and Defense review

Following discussions at a Peace Vigil led by women during the May 2000 hostage crisis, the National Council of Women of Fiji made contact with the military, learning to negotiate and communicate with security forces, who had strong influence in addressing instability in the country. As a result, the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces brought together members of the Military Council and other senior officers to meet with representatives of the Peace Vigil, who presented a statement known as ‘The Women’s Letter’. It outlined the need for Fiji to return to parliamentary democracy; for the military to uphold the 1997 Constitution as the supreme law of the country; and urged the military to respect human rights. While the letter was received respectfully and favourably, the delegation learned a critical lesson that the language of the military and the security sector needed to be used for future dialogue and peace initiatives.

In 2003, the National Council of Women and the Military Council held a national dialogue, which resulted in the Fiji Women, Peace and Security Coordinating Committee and the National Council of Women making formal submissions to the National Security and Defense Review. This demonstrated the valuable contribution that women’s networks (from community and national levels) can make into early warning interventions, while also identifying key entry points for women at local and national decision-making levels. The submission focused primarily on women’s participation in security decision-making, and identified violence against women as a barrier to participation.

Please provide examples of initiatives that built the capacities of institutions to map, investigate and push for the amendment of laws and if available the positive tangible impacts these had on advancing gender equality in your country.

Through capacity building and access to more reliable data, FAO has promoted gender-sensitive policy and planning in 30 countries. Botswana and Namibia have adopted national action plans for food security, which seek to eliminate inequalities in women's access to productive resources. FAO's technical assistance contributed to mainstreaming gender in Chile's agricultural policy and helped to increase the use of gender statistics by policymakers in China.

In FAO, a Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW) was created in 2007, within the Economic and Social Development Department, with corporate responsibility for gender equality. A training programme has enhanced both staff commitment to gender mainstreaming and the skills needed to carry it out. A network of senior-level focal points in the Organization's technical units has been created to mainstream gender in all FAO's technical programmes. For example, gender perspectives are now seen as central to FAO's strategy for disaster risk management, and have been incorporated prominently in its emergency relief and rehabilitation operations.

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In El Salvador, as part of the work of the Parliament Group of Women, UNDP has contribute to identify, review and update legal frameworks within the parameters of gender equality, for that the steps taken were:
1. Definition of a parliamentary consensus on the agenda to review regulatory frameworks.
2. Establishment of a technical support team to the Legislative Commission on Women and Gender Equality, comprising public justice sector institutions and NGOs linked to the promotion of gender equality and equity.
3. Legislative diagnosis of the current state of the application. The legal and practices responses generated by this. 
4. Technical advising in the design of new regulatory frameworks (new legislation and / or amendments to regulatory frameworks).
5. Exchanges with specialists, other countries or with other sectors for the discussion of policy frameworks.

We worked with the following frameworks: 
a) Draft legislation designed: New courts of violence against women; gender identity; administrative mechanism to sanction sexist advertising; a new law for the General Attorney of the Republic.
b) Reforms to the law: criminal law, criminal procedure, family law, law against domestic violence, labor code, Salvadorean Institute of Pensions for Public Employees, and others. 

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Lana Zananiri is the Gender and Media Unit Manager at ARDD- Legal Aid Jordan

Vulnerabilities   and Challenges to the advancement of gender equality for Syrian women

Well into its fifth year, The Syrian Civil War has caused the displacement of over 4.8 million refugees into its neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan.  The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the fifth largest refugee-hosting country in the world and the third in regards to the Syrian crisis. Among the approximately 640,000 registered Syrian refugees in the country, 80% reside in host urban and rural communities (UNHCR 2015). Such a large magnitude of urban displacement carries its own unique challenges for refugees, the Jordanian government, and hosting communities. Jordan’s coping capacity has been stretched to its limits with its poor resources, growing financial constraints, infrastructure limitations, and rising political tensions.  

Protection concerns are high priority for both camp res­idents and those Syrians residing in towns and cities of Jordan.Women and children under 18 years of age who constitute the majority of the urban Syrian refugee population in Jordan, 51% and 53% respectively, are one of the most vulnerable and marginalized demographic groups within the refugee community who bear a disproportionate brunt of the long-term effects of the civil war and their current displacement into Jordan (Care Jordan 2014: 13). They are subject to an increased risk of sexual, physical, and psychological abuses, harassments, exploitations, and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV) due to their gender and displacement, whether it is from armed groups, family members, or other members of society (IRC 2014: 5). Particularly, the marriage of girls below the age of 18 is one of the most common forms of GBV that directly affects around 14 million girls a year (Equality Now 2014: 49). 

One of the major challenges in the protection of Syrian  women refugees in Jordan is lack of documentation, which contributes to  several protection concerns and risks, lack of documentation can affect the woman rights of stipulating her marriage and the  request to peruse divorce such as in cases of a missing or diseased husband, moreover the issue of having a proof of marriage is essential to protect not only the women rights but also to stipulate the kinship of the children and  the process of issuing  birth certificates to encounter the bigger problem of stateless children, that have no right to services or the right to return.

Exhaustion of economic coping mechanisms: Coping mechanisms used by Syrian families are becoming exhausted as financial resources and material assets are depleted. Families and specifically women are deploying ever more negative strategies to survive, leading to an increasingly negative protection cycle.

One of the most common observed within the Syrian refugees in Jordan is the high rate of widows and female headed households consisting of separated or unaccompanied women and their children. Syrian refugee women who are alone without an adult male can be particularly vulnerable. Though there is limited information on prevalence, survival sex is especially a problem in underserved and overcrowded communities, where women often bear the brunt of abuse and marginalization in the competition for assistance.

GBV remains a private and sensitive issue that is largely addressed within the home setting. It was clear that concerted attention to issues such as GBV did not take place until at least a year into the cri­sis. Specialized, confidential, and supportive services currently available to Syrian women and children survivors of GBV are not sufficient, and when such resources are available, Syrian refugees are very often unaware of them. Women face a double obstacle towards accessing services: not only are women themselves often hesitant to go outside the protection of the home and to interact with the larger community, but even in the absence of personal qualms, male family members may seek to ensure women’s protection by restricting their movement. 

There is a need to shift so that gender integration goes beyond the notion of need into the notion of potential. Instead of only thinking about what women and girls need, it is important to consider empowerment and possibilities. It is crucial to think of Syrian women as agent of change and involve them with participatory engagement to achieve gender equality.

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Addressing gaps: enactment vs. enforcement


1. Please share concrete examples of reforms from your country (e.g. type of law, actors involved, recipe for success)? What entities exist to report and track impact of these reforms?

Post signing of CEDAW, Pakistan initiated Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP). It was a comprehensive reform package focusing on institutional strengthening, Political, Social & economic empowerment. Its initiation at Federal/Central government level was a high point of commitment advocacy & call for action. All 4 provincial Governments also adopted and protected it under a legislation. It could bring together all stakeholders i.e. government, political, donors, CSO, academia. etc. At Federal level its duration was 2002-2010. Under a constitutional amendment for provincial autonomy this subject was devolved and still exits in provinces.

GRAP recipe of success was high level govt. ownership, convening platform and document that all could relate to. It had project implementation unit including M&E. It provided opportunity for the donors to support government initiatives. UNDP was lead partner it and led projects that focused on women political empowerment i.e. training of women in LG too advocacy for more women in Parliament. Women Political School (WPS) is a best practice in global community of practice. It worked on Gender Based Budgeting and pioneered the inclusion of women perspective by having gender disaggregated budget data; inclusion of chapter on women in PRSP documents; We piloted women access to credit by supporting First Women Bank in Pakistan for easy access to small loans; and most important supported formation and functioning of National Commission On Status of Women (NCSW) that initiated repeal of discriminatory laws and national advocacy for women empowerment. One of UNDP project also initiated the support to initiate the Acid Crime bill that has been passed since. We could also introduce Gender Justice Through Musalihat (Arbitration) Committees at Local Govt level that remains part of provincial LG Acts and are in place.

2. Please identify the major challenges to amend and repeal discriminatory provisions in existing laws in your country and /or to introduce new legislation protecting women, including young women, and girls where no law exists and/or implement existing gender equality legislation. If possible, please explain the steps and actors involved in making these changes.

The biggest challenge as of now is that there is no federal/central level Ministry that anchors the work around women empowerment and gender equity. The National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) that was expected to take this mantle does not have enough “institutional teeth” to hold actors accountable and hence been reduced to an advocacy and recommendatory body. Provincial Commission of similar nature are still finding their ground and do not have a strong institutional link to the provincial ministries/ departments of women. Despite this huge challenge donor & Civil society have maintained the relationship with the government and many positive changes at provincial level esp Punjab have been on ground.

Post provincial autonomy and in absence of federal anchor to provide a strategic guidelines and seek reporting all 4 provinces are at different level of commitment to legislative reforms to repeal or amend discriminatory laws. To rectify this Pakistan need to establish a central/federal level platform with appointment of a lead that has high level political standing to garner action.

We need to have local level i.e. District level advocacy to take the issues of women and discrimination against them out of the realm of social/personal shame to person or family so that its understood under rights perspective and is pursued under criminal proceedings.

Religious bodies/religious political parties also use the above socio-cultural soft point to hit hard and make it anything related to women as a religious issue as  control on women is portrayed as do-able at a personal level. So elected women at LG level can be catalyst of change & by engaging moderate religious persons to lead rights based advocacy and action

Measures, mechanisms and institutions

1. Did your country adopt temporary measures that increased women’s representation in politics and public administration? What gender quality mechanisms or structures exist in your Parliament (committee, caucus etc…)?

Peculiar socio-cultural set up of Pakistan restricts political choices and option for women. They are expected to perform a balancing act between home and politics. Political parties and Pakistani politics do not provide a female to pursue politics independently as compare to men. One has to join party ranks and ideally must have is political family back ground as women wing of political parties are yet to grow beyond a decorative attachment.Pakistan was the first in Islamic world to have a female Prime Minister and Speaker to National Assembly.

Women’s presence in mainstream politics remained weak but reservation maintained their political existence. During 1947 to 1997 only 113 were either elected or nominated for Assemble.  In 2002 at national level 58 women contested general election and 13 won. Whereas, at provincial level 119 women contested and only 12 could make it.

Post 2000 electoral reforms under a military regime initiated the most step towards women political empowerment. It led to 33% representation of women at elected 3 tiers of LG Post 2002 that led to approximately 40,000 women councilors in 2002 and around 26,000 by 2010 (it reduced as size of LG was reduced seat wise). Newly formed LG in 2013 onwards also has approximately same number.

The Assembly of 2002 made history for 60 women on reserved seats but it were those 13 which got elected on general seats. Elections of 2008 saw 192 women contesting in 176 constituencies, 63 National Assembly (NA) and 113 to Provincial Assemblies (PA). Of these 41 at National and 37 at Provincial level had a political party’s ticket while 31 & 83 contested as independent at national and provincial level. In 2013 (current assembly) there are a total of 228 women overall in the National and Provincial Assemblies: 70 in the National Assembly, 141 in all four of the Provincial Assemblies, whereas 17 are in the Senate. Their over- all proportion of representation is 19.5 % i.e. 228 out of 1170 members. Of the 228 women, 205 are on reserved seats for women; 21 have won on general seats and 2 have come on reserved seats for non-Muslims.  Of the 141 women in the Provincial Assemblies: 76 are in Punjab Assembly; 31 are in Sindh Assembly; 22 are in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly; and 12 are in the Balochistan Assembly.

Since 2002 there are Women Caucuses in national and provincial assemblies. They worked very well from 2002-2008 under lead of female Speaker of the Assembly. They have since became bit stagnant but are there. UNDP was pioneer to establish and support its functioning. Its ROB, as technically supported by UNDP, are one of IPU recognized standards. Currently UNDP is again rejuvenating them and have started with support to their work planning.

2. Are you aware of the existence of gender analysis efforts and gender impact analysis initiatives taken in your country’s governmental or parliamentary bodies? Can you share information on the way such analysis are carried out? Can you share good practices and lessons learned in this regard?

These remains to be undertaken by Civil society organization with donor support. NCSW has also been supported by many donors to undertake research and advocacy based on it. Gender Equality Project (GEP) and Awaaz project currently have undertaken key researches in collaboration with NCSW which are available in their websites.


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This report aims to address Question 2: Please identify the major challenges to amend and repeal discriminatory provisions in existing laws in your country and /or to introduce new legislation protecting women, including young women, and girls where no law exists and/or implement existing gender equality legislation. If possible, please explain the steps and actors involved in making these changes. The challenge mentioned here is the social climate that is being legislated for.

The Indian Penal Code of 1860 continues to govern criminal activities in India. So whether it’s murder or robbery, assault or battery, sedition or defamation, rape or causing miscarriages, the sole repository (besides other ancillary instruments of legislation that have come up to address specific crimes) of authority for the security sector to address crime comes from the Indian Penal Code.

The India I know and have grown up was peppered with instances of sexual and gender-based violence. In 1973, a nurse was sexually assaulted so brutally that she lies in a coma, in a hospital, even today. In 1990, a security guard raped and murdered a girl in the flat he ‘guarded’, and was hanged 14 years later. In 1992, a woman was brutally raped because she tried to prevent the marriage of a child. In the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002, rods were inserted into women and their breasts were bitten off. Families have aborted foetuses just because they were girls – only the male child was preferred, as a girl was seen as a burden – both, in terms of tradition (it is believed by many that only a male child can carry the family name forward) and in terms of the economic burden (when girls are married off, in some customs families are forced to pay heavily in the name of dowry). When sex-selective abortions were banned to stop foeticide, they resorted to infanticide. Street children would rummage through rubbish-bins and find these corpses and mistake them for dolls. Many Indian women live at the mercy of the men in their house, where domestic violence thrive unnoticed. In 2007, a house in suburban Delhi was discovered storing many skeletons. They were the remains of several children who were lured, sexually abused and then killed.  India has remained a thriving hotbed of gender-violence, propped by the perception of women as sex-objects – an extension of which has been the recent incident in Delhi.

All this, in a place that gave the world the Scion of Peace: Gandhi, whose words (circa 1921), could never be more appropriate: Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.

The social backdrop that propels gender-violence legislation in India

India is in love with patriarchy. Whether in its mythological stories or in its daily living, patriarchy is enforced and reinforced by both men and women. A good example of how patriarchy is inscribed in India through mythologies is India’s oldest epic, the Ramayan. India’s oldest and most popular epic, the Ramayan, tells the tale of Prince Ram, whose wife, Sita, was abducted by the King of Lanka, Ravan. Ram is revered and worshipped today in India by Hindus. The epic shows that he questioned the chastity of his wife after he rescued her. ‘If she didn’t willingly sleep with her abductor, she must have at least been raped.’ With that, he drove her out of the kingdom. Ravan, the deca-headed ‘monster’ who is still perceived as the mondo-villain, did not even touch Sita. Unsurprisingly, this mentality persists even today.

The cultural salience surrounding a woman’s honour in India is largely the reason for dominance. Male dominance stems from the notions surrounding the protection of female honour, which is inherent in traditional Indian culture. Women are deemed representatives of the code of honour of their families, their blood and lineage. This in turn leads to the augmented sanctity attached to the virginity, chastity, honour and “virtue” of a woman. Women themselves are brought up with the preconditioning that preserving their “honour” is non-negotiable for their and their family’s acceptance in society. A woman represents the honour of the three-tiered hierarchy that commands her life: her husband, her family, and the community she represents. A sense of zealous self-righteousness prevails among some Indian men. They dominate, violently, in the name of making a woman “understand the importance of her honour”. If a woman continues to display her vulnerability, she is welcome, she is acceptable. The moment she asserts herself, throws an open challenge to the ‘accepted stereotypes’, she sends a subliminal slap to the ego of the male. It has been about a century and a half since it was passed, and it continues in most of its original form. While the jury is still out there on many provisions of the Indian Penal Code – right from the interpretation to the question of adequacy of punishment – most provisions continue to drive home the patriarchal notion that a woman is but property.

Specific instances


India’s laws relating to rape are terribly inadequate. We still use the 1860 Penal Code that was drafted by the British for Colonial India. Rape is punishable only with imprisonment for seven years. If rape and murder occur together, life imprisonment or death can be awarded. It is definitely agreeable that the law needs to change. There needs to be legislative reform towards not only offering substantive penalties, but also proper procedure. The lack of sensitization of the security sector has led to inappropriate questioning, blaming the victim, forcing the victim to relive her reality all over again. This needs to change, and the best way to do this is not only re-legislate, but also to sensitize and train the security sector.

Sexual Assault

Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code says that the “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty” is punishable. The section explains that “Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will there by outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

Section 509 says that “Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”

The crux of the section is not to penalize the assault of or use of criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her person – but her ‘modesty’. What this concept of “modesty” means is not mentioned in the Indian Penal Code. The law allows statutes to be interpreted with dictionaries – for most of these obfuscating words (note the deliberate non-use of confusing, as a, well, simpler alternative. I’m a lawyer, after all.

In a 1967 decision, by the Supreme Court again – ‘State of Punjab vs. Major Singh’ the crux of the question before the court was whether a girl, aged seven and a half months, could be considered to be possessed of `modesty’ which could be outraged. The majority judgment ruled that an act done to, or in the presence of a woman was suggestive of sex – and therefore, according to contemporary social standards, any such act amounts to a violation of Section 354. One of the judges on the bench constituting the majority noted that the “essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex and from her very birth she possesses the modesty which is the attribute of her sex”.

Relying on this decision, the Supreme Court in ‘Rupan Deol Bajaj v. KPS Gill,’  asserted that the “ultimate test for ascertaining whether modesty has been outraged is, is the action of the offender such as could be perceived as one which is capable of shocking the sense of decency of a woman.” Recourse was sought to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which describes modesty as the quality of being modest (Oh?) and in relation to women, meant “womanly propriety of behaviour; scrupulous chastity of thought, speech and conduct” and the word`modest’ in relation to women was defined in the dictionary as “decorous in manner and conduct; not forward or lewd, shamefast.

The court also relied on the Oxford English Dictionary (1933 Edition – note the devotion to all things archaic) where the meaning of the word `modesty’ was explained as “womanly propriety of behaviour; scrupulous chastity of thought, speech and conduct (in man or woman); reserve or sense of shame proceeding from instinctive aversion to impure or coarse suggestions”.

In the time since this last decision, Section 354 and Section 509 continue to operate. While some have cited these provisions as woman-friendly or a-route-to-gendered-justice, these two provisions reassert a ridiculous notion, that the “modesty” of a woman is valued more than a woman is. Why not protect the woman? Why is her body, her mind and her choice secondary to her ‘modesty?’

This ‘modesty’ is what encourages a culture of ‘honour’, femicide – whether as foeticide, infanticide or otherwise, and a sense of disregard for the bodily integrity of a woman.

This ‘modesty’ is what encourages a culture of ‘honour’, femicide – whether as foeticide, infanticide or otherwise, and a sense of disregard for the bodily integrity of a woman. With provisions like this in place, how can a woman be called empowered – if her choice, her right to be the final sovereign with the final say on her body and mind is not respected, and instead, blatantly disregarded? It is  this ‘modesty’ that leads to honour killings. It is this ‘modesty’ that forces women out of education and access to development because they are not safe.

The way forward

For sensitization, the first precondition is education, the creation of an understanding that an empowered woman is not a threat, but a boon to the country. An empowered woman is the fount of an empowered family, and the empowered family is the fount of an empowered nation. India needs to understand that empowering a woman is not a bad thing, but that the heinous treatment of women certainly is. This can be achieved by starting when they’re young. Parents first need to understand that a girl should not be deemed unwanted, and must teach their sons and daughters the importance of respecting members of the opposite sex. It is also important to teach them that violence brings no benefit, and that asserting violence is not an assertion of power. For those that are old enough, strong training programs and sensitization programs need to be drawn up and implemented for realization to dawn.

Carmen Alanis's picture

En México, en diciembre de 2014 se aprobó una reforma a la Constitución que estipuló la postulación paritaria de candidatos a todos los cargos de elección popular, la cual obliga a los partidos políticos a postular el 50% de mujeres en los congresos federales y locales, así como en las planillas que se postulan para los Ayuntamientos. Con ella se alcanzó un 42% en la Cámara de Diputados y 34% en la Cámara de Senadores.

En México no sólo llegó la paridad, ya que junto a esta regla de nominación llegaron los mecanismos que garantizan el acceso a los espacios de representación. Las nuevas reglas crean mecanismos que estimulan el acceso al cargo de aquellas mujeres que han decidido ejercer su derecho a integrar los órganos públicos. De ahí que se elimine la vergonzante excepción a las reglas de nominación de mujeres y, en cambio, se fortalezca la participación femenina al prohibir la postulación en distritos perdedores, al crear suplencias del mismo sexo y mantener las sanciones por incumpliendo al número de mujeres requeridas.

El cambio más evidente, fue en el tamaño de la cuota. La Constitución y la Ley General de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales fijan paridad en las candidaturas, con lo que se abandonan las cuotas, tanto para el Senado como para la Cámara de Diputados y Congresos locales; no así a los Ayuntamientos.

Si bien este cambio es un salto cualitativo de primera importancia, no es suficiente. En las entidades que ya contaban con estos niveles de postulación de mujeres en las candidaturas no se presentaba un fenómeno que representará ese número de mujeres candidatas. El promedio era de 29.7%. Se requiere garantizar medidas que aseguren el buen desempeño de las cuotas, para que no pase eso.

El ejercicio de la paridad va más allá del porcentaje establecido en la norma. Las reglas deben considerar mecanismos de técnica legislativa que permitan a las mujeres realmente acceder a una candidatura.

La reforma del año próximo pasado tuvo no sólo el acierto de legislar la paridad, sino que, también, estipuló una serie de buenas prácticas que servirán como instrumento tutelar de la efectividad de la postulación de mujeres. Es decir, no solo aumento el porcentaje de mujeres requeridas (50%), estableció mecanismos que garanticen que efectivamente tenga oportunidad no sólo de ser candidatas, sino de acceder al cargo. Algunos ejemplos son:

  1. Eliminación de la excepción.

Un párrafo después de establecer las cuotas de género, la anterior legislación (Código Federal de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales) nulificaba la misma al permitir una excepción basada en los “procesos de elección democráticos”.

Uno de los efectos más importante de la sentencia 12624 es que eliminó las excepciones. Así lo reconoció el Comité de Expertas de la CEDAW cuando celebró que, a través de esa sentencia, México hubiera dejado sin efecto el aspecto que más mermaba el desempeño de sus acciones afirmativas. La nueva legislación es una muestra de progresividad al eliminar este aberrante atraso de la eliminación de la excepción.

Sin embargo, no todo está dicho en este tema en México. Lamentablemente hay 5 entidades federativas que no atendieron al espíritu de la legislación federal y continúan estipulando estas lamentables excepciones: Colima, Chiapas, Hidalgo, Morelos y Sonora.

  1. Suplencias en las fórmulas.

El segundo cambio importante que propuso la reforma es que propietarios y suplentes deben ser del mismo sexo. Este cambio tuvo su precedente en un vergonzante caso de 2009, cuando 10 diputadas recién electas renunciaron a sus cargos para ceder sus lugares a sus suplentes varones (las denominadas Juanitas).

A fin de evitar esa situación de acoso político, en 2012 el IFE propuso en sus lineamientos de candidaturas que titulares y suplentes fueran del mismo sexo. Cuando un grupo de mujeres que impugnaron ante el Tribunal Electoral (en la famosa sentencia 12624) hicieron ver que eso podría no convenirles fue que se empezó a idear la manera en que podríamos mejorar su participación. En la impugnación que presentaron explicaban que la única manera en que una cuota cualesquiera pudiera “tender a la paridad” ya en el ejercicio del cargo sería si ellas pudieran ser suplentes de varones. El Tribunal Electoral determinó que las mujeres tendrían que tener suplentes mujeres, pero los hombres podrían tener suplentes de cualquier sexo.

El tiempo dio la razón a esa postura de las justiciables. Hoy, la representación de mujeres ha crecido ligeramente. Tenemos tres diputadas y una senadora más que cuando fueron electas en 2012, como consecuencia de aquellos hombres que renunciaron para aspirar a otros cargos y fueron suplidas por mujeres.[1]

En el caso de Yucatán y Chiapas se caminó aún más. En esos casos se legisló que los suplentes de los varones si pueden ser mujeres. Esta determinación recoge el precedente del Tribunal, donde en 2012 ya se había dicho que este modelo permitiría un mejor posicionamiento de las mujeres en las candidaturas. Esta regla constituye un vehículo más para alcanzar la paridad.

  1. Sanciones por incumplimiento de cuota.

Otro gran acierto de la nueva legislación es la continuidad de las sanciones enérgicas al incumplimiento de sus cuotas. Con ello, se evita ese limbo en el que quedan aquellas disposiciones que –por duras que sean– no tienen sanción y, por ende, generan incentivos para ser incumplidas.

Al obligar a la autoridad electoral a no registrar las candidaturas que incumplan la cuota, la Ley recupera esa experiencia de 2012 cuando los partidos explicaron que no encontraban candidatas con quién llenar las candidaturas. Cuando el entonces Instituto Federal Electoral salió a medios a decir que no registrarían las candidaturas de quienes incumplieran la 12624, rápidamente hallaron a las candidatas mujeres y las registraron en tiempo y forma.

Una buena contribución de la Ley General de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales es que obliga a los Organismos Públicos Locales a sancionar, inclusive con la pérdida del registro, a aquellos partidos que no cumplan con los criterios de paridad en el registro de candidaturas.

Sin embargo, en esta ocasión, también, existen casos que no atendieron a este sentir del legislador federal. Son preocupantes los casos de Michoacán y Morelos donde no se legisló sanción alguna al incumplimiento de la cuota.

2) Reformas con efectos sobre la mayoría relativa y representación proporcional.

Estas modificaciones para la postulación de candidatos tienen un impacto en  el sistema electoral mexicano. Estos cambios a las leyes no sólo se hicieron para mejorar la representatividad femenina, sino que se planteó un verdadero cambio en la cultura política del país.

En sí, lo que se buscó hacer no es tanto como un mecanismo de implementación de las cuotas, sino una fundamentación de los principios de acceso al cargo. Es decir, las nuevas disposiciones tienen efectos diferenciados en cuanto al acceso de mujeres a cargos públicos por el sistema de mayoría relativa y por el de representación proporcional.

  1. Mayoría relativa.

Uno de los cambios legislativos más importantes que se tuvo fue separar la regulación de los partidos políticos de la Ley General de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales. Con ello surgió la Ley General de Partidos Políticos.

El artículo 3º de la Ley de Partidos tiene un gran acierto al aborda uno de los temas que más preocupaban cuando se hizo la reforma: el hecho de que, a pesar de las cuotas, los partidos tienen la posibilidad de postular a mujeres en aquellos distritos que consideran perdedores.

En 2012 se presentó un fenómeno que daría paso a este análisis. Para la elección de ese año, aquellos partidos que ganaron algún distrito en el 2009 prefirieron relegar el papel de las mujeres. En 200 de los 300 distritos que se compiten por mayoría relativa, los candidatos fueron varones. De ahí la importancia de que explícitamente se haya incluido en la Ley la imposibilidad de usar ese tipo de criterios francamente discriminatorios.

Dos entidades que no estaban obligadas a legislar en ese año por no tener proceso electoral se encargaron de realizarla: Hidalgo  y Durango. Llama la atención porque ambos se hicieron cargo de establecer este principio de no postulación en distritos perdedores. A estas entidades les sumariamos Baja California Sur, Campeche y Tabasco que también hicieron propio este concepto.

  1. Representación proporcional.

Los sistemas de representación proporcional dan mayores posibilidades, pues es ahí donde mejor impactan las cuotas, siempre y cuando haya buenos diseños. La nueva Ley  General de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales dio otro paso más en este tema al establecer un sistema de cremallera, sin segmentos, en la que los sexos deben intercalarse.

Sin embargo, un aspecto que faltó por legislar fue la no implementación de un precepto que impida que las 32 listas inicien con una fórmula de varones y terminen con una fórmula de mujeres. Si eso ocurre en un número importante de partidos, los que ganen el  primer lugar de la entidad contribuirán al Senado con una representación paritaria, pero los que pierdan aportarán simplemente fórmulas de varones.

  1. Ayuntamientos.

Uno de los mayores aciertos que se tuvo en esta reforma fue el apartado de los Ayuntamientos. Sobre todo, sí tomamos en cuenta que se tiene registrado que en México siete de cada 100 presidentas municipales son mujeres. Ciertamente el nivel de las presidencias municipales es el que peor representación de mujeres tiene en el país.

Lo preocupante fue que el Constituyente permanente no legisló sobre la postulación de candidatos para las Presidencias municipales, tampoco, se abordó el tema en la nueva ley electoral. Lo gratificante fue encontrar que en el ejercicio de armonización legislativa los Congresos de los estados si se ocuparon del tema.

La presencia de las mujeres siempre es importante en la integración de los gobiernos. Pese al bajo número de presidentas en la integración de los otros órganos del Ayuntamiento existen 28% de mujeres en los síndicos y 36% de regidurías en el país. En estas reformas se dio un paso más, por los Congresos locales, toda vez que Campeche y Nuevo León aprovecharon para establecer una cuota del 50% para Síndicos y Regidores.

Por fortuna, excepto en Yucatán, las legislaturas estatales se hicieron cargo de los principios igualitarios. En uso de esa libertad de configuración normativa, regularon la paridad, cuando menos en forma vertical dentro de sus ayuntamientos.

Hubo dos casos más ambiciosos.

  • En Chiapas se reguló que las listas de candidatos a Regidores deben ser encabezadas por mujeres. Y en caso de ser impar se les dará preferencia a las mujeres.

  • En el DF, donde (todavía) no hay planillas, los cargos unipersonales de delegados se regularon en forma horizontal. Los partidos deben postular 8 candidaturas delegacionales para hombres y 8 para mujeres. Paridad horizontal.

No todo es tan bueno en Ayuntamientos. Entidades como Colima y Querétaro establecieron un diseño sui géneris (¿una excepción a la cuota?).  Estas entidades legislaron que cuando la suma total de síndicos, regidores y presidente municipal sea par, la cuota será del 50%, pero cuando sea impar, la cuota encuentra una diferencia: 60-40, apartándose del criterio que busca que sea el número aritmético inmediato al 50%.



[1] 190 Diputadas (37.8%) y 43 Senadoras (33.5%) actualizados al 22 de enero de 2015.

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En cumplimiento al acuerdo de la Junta Directiva de la Comisión de Igualdad de Género, el 1 de octubre de 2014, se instaló la Mesa Interinstitucional “Presupuestos para las Mujeres y la Igualdad de Género”, como parte de los trabajos de análisis del Proyecto de Presupuesto de Egresos de la Federación 2015.


El objetivo de la Mesa Interinstitucional es conocer los avances físicos y financieros, obstáculos y proyecciones respecto al ejercicio de los recursos asignados, así como los resultados cualitativos que guardan los programas.


Cabe destacar que por segundo año consecutivo, la Comisión de Igualdad hizo una alineación de los programas presupuestarios con el Programa Nacional de Desarrollo y el Programa Nacional para la Igualdad de Oportunidades y no Discriminación contra las Mujeres.


Además, en México, en materia de seguimiento al cumplimiento de las recomendaciones de la CEDAW, en el mes de julio de 2014, la Comisiones de Igualdad prepararon documentos que recopilan información sobre acciones legislativas relacionadas con el cumplimiento de las recomendaciones 19 b y 33 a y b del Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW) a México, a propósito de su 7º y 8º informe consolidado.


Dicha información fue enviada al Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres y a la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, en atención a su solicitud de aportar insumos al informe que dicho Instituto se encuentra preparando al Comité CEDAW.


De igual forma, destaca durante este periodo la participación de Diputadas la Comisión de Igualdad de Género en el Encuentro Nacional de Legisladoras de las Comisiones para la Igualdad de Género y Titulares de los Mecanismos para el Adelanto de las Mujeres en las Entidades Federativas, que se llevó a cabo del 19 al 21 de agosto en el Estado de Veracruz.


El Encuentro fue una acción de gran trascendencia organizada por la Entidad de las Naciones Unidas para la Igualdad de Género y el Empoderamiento de las Mujeres (ONU MUJERES), el Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, la Comisión de Equidad, Género y Familia de la LXIII Legislatura del Estado de Veracruz, así como la Comisión de Igualdad de Género en esta H. Cámara de Diputados.


El evento con legisladoras y titulares de instancias de las mujeres de todo el país, tuvo como objetivo acelerar el proceso de armonización legislativa con perspectiva de género y atender las recomendaciones de la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW), conformando una agenda legislativa en materia de derechos humanos de las mujeres con cada una de las entidades federativas del país.


En esta línea de trabajo, destaca también la participación de la Comisión de Igualdad de Género en la 58ª Sesión de la Comisión Jurídica y Social de la Mujer (CSW), que se llevó a cabo en la Sede de las Naciones Unidas, en Nueva York, del 10 al 21 de marzo de 2014.


La 58ª Sesión de la CSW tuvo como ejes los siguientes temas:


Tema prioritario: Desafíos y logros en la aplicación de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio para las mujeres y las niñas.


Tema de examen: El acceso y la participación de las mujeres y las niñas en la educación, la capacitación, la ciencia y la tecnología, incluyendo la promoción de la igualdad de acceso pleno de las mujeres al empleo y a un trabajo decente.


Durante la Sesión, tanto los análisis de los Estados Miembros de Naciones Unidas, como lo expresado por las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil presentes en el evento, coincidieron en señalar que hay diversos aspectos, tanto del diseño como de la implementación de los Objetivos del Desarrollo, que es necesario reelaborar con vistas a la conformación de una agenda del desarrollo posterior al año 2015.


Para las Diputadas de la Comisión de Igualdad de Género, el tema principal de análisis de la 58ª Sesión de la CSW fue importante en el trabajo legislativo, ya que favoreció la consolidación de una agenda mundial para el desarrollo, que posicionó al empoderamiento de las mujeres y las niñas como el foco principal de atención.


Al respecto, se abordaron temas que han sido puntos fundamentales de la actividad legislativa de la Comisión; por ejemplo, las desigualdades estructurales, como las brechas salariales todavía presentes entre los géneros; la distribución desproporcionada del trabajo de cuidado no remunerado que recae en las mujeres; las bajas tasas de mujeres en puestos de toma de decisiones y la persistencia de actitudes, normas y marcos jurídicos discriminatorios.


A fin de mantener una adecuada coordinación para el intercambio de experiencias en torno a la operación y diseño de políticas públicas para el logro de la igualdad de género, esta Comisión ha mantenido una vinculación permanente con el Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres.


El 26 de marzo de 2014, se llevó a cabo una reunión con la Presidenta del Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres y su Consejo Social Consultivo, en donde se analizaron los siguientes temas:


  • Avances y posicionamiento de la Comisión de Igualdad de Género sobre el reglamento de la Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia.

  • Análisis del presupuesto de género, Anexo 12: Erogaciones para la Igualdad entre Mujeres y Hombres 2014.

  • Investigación y seguimiento al tema de prevención del abuso sexual infantil particularmente contra niñas y adolescentes.

  • Últimas modificaciones a la Ley de Trata de Personas.

  • Investigación y propuestas de modificaciones legislativas en el tema de conciliación, familia y trabajo.

  • Investigación y manejo legislativo al tema de violencia contra las mujeres por medio de internet y redes en general.

  • Seguimiento al tema de feminicidio.


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I have included only those questions that I was able to offer information on. And I have actually taken the text from a manual that I have written for Demo Finland: "Gender Equality within Political Parties and Women's Cross-party Cooperation" (available at: http://demofinland.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Gender_equality_within_political_parties_and_womens_crossparty_cooperation_WEB.pdf


1. Finland has a rather unique system of quotas: there are no legal quotas for the elections, but in the municipalities, all committees that are elected after the elections, based on the political mandate of different parties, have to have at least 40 % representation of one sex. People in these committees are often involved in politics but not all of them are council members. It is likely that this system has contributed to the increase of the number of women politicians both on the regional and national level, as voters have seen that women are as capable as men doing politics. (41,5 % of MPs are women, of the municipal councilors women constitute 36,2  %.).

The Network of Women Deputies of the Parliament of Finland was established in 1991, when a record number of women were elected to the parliament (77 out of 200 MPs). All women MPs automatically belong to the caucus, which aims at mainstreaming gender into proposed legislation. It also cooperates with legislators from other countries and organizes seminars on gender equality, often in collaboration with civil society organizations. The network’s activities are managed by an executive committee, which is selected annually by the General Assembly. The president and vice president hold their positions for one year, and their selection rotates among the parties. The gender equality law, legislation on public day care for children, a law on special loans for women entrepreneurs and funding of immigrant women’s organizations are examples of legislation where the caucus has been active. Equal pay and violence against women have also been on the agenda. 


1. NYTKIS – the Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations

Finnish women’s organizations have found a unique way of collaborating. NYTKIS – the Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations, has political women’s organizations, as well as academic and civil society organizations as members, and is therefore a strong lobbying body. All the women’s wings of political parties belong to NYTKIS, as well as The National Council of Women, The Feminist Association Unioni and The Association for Women’s Studies in Finland. This joint coalition was founded as early as 1988, and it has played an important role in various instances of lobbying for key legislation and mainstreaming gender, not only into proposed legislation in the parliament, but also on the municipal level. The executive board consists of secretary generals of the member organizations, and the chairpersonship rotates annually amongst member organizations. The chairperson is often an MP. 

NYTKIS is a member of TANE, the Parliamentary Committee for Equality. NYTKIS also works internationally and is a member of the European Women’s Lobby. It sends representatives to international women’s conferences, including all the major ones of the UN. On top of the central NYTKIS, there are also regional NYTKIS committees that bring together the women councilors of bigger Finnish cities.  

Thanks to its wide membership structure, NYTKIS has succeeded in:

Giving voice to the political grass root level, that is, women working as councilors or members of various committees in the municipalities.

Combining the everyday political pursuits with academic analyses and/or views.

Giving voice to the women working on the grass root level within the civil society.

The work of NYTKIS is based on the principal of consensus. As members represent differing political ideologies, it is important to identify those issues which all members see vital for advancing equality between women and men. In Finland these have included, for instance, establishing legislation on day care for children, women’s advancement in politics, gender based violence, and equal pay. International visitors find it often difficult to perceive that parties from left to right can find a common agenda. This is possible partly due to the fact that women within the parties may be nearer to each other than the parties themselves. The Finnish people are also well known for their pragmatic attitudes. Rather than spending time on disagreeing over ideological views, the women in the NYTKIS board have looked for what unites them. 

Strategies that NYTKIS uses include:

After the executive board has, via discussions, identified a problem connected with gender equality, representatives of each party take the issue to their own parties and start lobbying to convince the party leadership of the need of bringing in new legislation or amending existing legislation.

Co-operating with the caucus of women MPs.

Direct contacts with various ministries.

Watch dog role: monitoring gender equality policies carried out by governmental institutions, giving out press releases and writing statements.

Collaborating with civil society organizations.

Organizing election panels and other events where female candidates of all parties take part.

Giving out election material that emphasizes the importance of voting for a woman.


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In most of the cases due to the lengthy justice process and no economic and social protection to survivors result extra – legal comprise involving few people from both side as witness. Poor and hapless women who don’t have money to travel to the district office to file complain or do follow up of the case. Even in District Probation office they have to pay to 10 Rs each time to get the new dates and even also during the time of the mediation of the both parties. Survivors are again sent to their husband house as the matter to test the relationship as abuse/violence will not revise again.
#womenrights #genderequality #PVCHR #U4humanrighs#mascunility#grassrootreality

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Women rights have not been actualized fully because of poor governance. In Kenya, both Majority parties have voted NO consistently on a constitutional provision for affirmative action. MPs can show up to support bills on salary increment but on this vital bill #GenderTwoThirds thres no quorum to pass it.

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[Contribution submitted by Sahro Ahmed Koshin, Deputy Executive Director & Programs Manager at The Somali Institute for Development and Research Analysis (SIDRA)]

This research study was conducted by the Somali Institute for Development and Research Analysis (SIDRA) in partnership with UNDP Somalia. SIDRA Institute is a knowledge-policy interface established to fill the strategic gaps of shaping and dialoguing a wide range of policy agendas and in generating and communicating relevant research findings to policy actors in Somalia. The study aimed at assessing and documenting women’s political participation in Puntland, focusing on the recent political processes while drawing lessons from historical trends and broader societal issues surrounding women’s political participation.

The study aimed to provide policy recommendations so as to influence future interventions in the area of women and political participation in Puntland. The study used both quantitative and qualitative research methods and was conducted in four regions namely Nugaal, Karkaar, Bari and Mudug, covering a city in each region and targeting a sample of (600) six hundred respondents (Bosaaso-200, Garowe-150, Galkayo-150 and Qardho-100).

Sixty percent (60%) of the respondents were women. Data was collected through public questionnaires, as well as through interviews with civil society organizations and Key Informants. The study also used Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to thoroughly discuss issues related to women’s political participation in Puntland and was attended each time by both men and women.

Given that there is little documented on women’s participation in politics in Puntland, the selection of the respondents focused on those working directly on issues that address women’s participation in politics in Puntland. In this study SIDRA interviewed seventeen Key Informants from UNDP, UNWOMEN, JPLG, MoCFAD, MoWDAFA, The Puntland Women Councilors Network (PWCN), former and current ministers as well as six CSOs- 3 in Nugaal and 1 each region such as in Bari, Mudug and Karkaar.

The study assessed the level of Somali women’s participation in politics in Puntland and this was found to be very low. Some of the major findings of this research study include the lack of clear policy and legal frameworks that support and promote women’s political participation in Puntland. Although some elders feel that it is against the Somali tradition for women to participate in politics and public decision-making, the analyses of the results suggest something different. About 74% of the people the team interviewed spoke positively about women’s participation in politics in Puntland whereas 23% did not. Of the 74.2% 51.2 are women, 22.9 are men and for the ones against 25.8%; 14.3 women, 11.6 are men. The other 7% were of the opinion that women can participate in some selected political positions. Culture plays a significant role in influencing people’s attitudes and perceptions towards women’s participation in politics.

Another major finding was the the effect of the clan based system on women’s political participation and women’s status in general. The clan based system in Puntland is under the control of the traditional clan elders who determine who is selected and who is appointed into office and positions of power. Women in Puntland have done quite well in getting elected into local councils with 62 women currently (making 25 % of 250 total) but at parliament and in cabinet, the numbers are dismal with only 2 women parliamentarians out of the 66 total and 1 woman Minister out of 18 ministries while 3 women Vice-Ministers make up out of 19 total Vice-Ministers and 1 Director General (DG) out of 18 DGs in Puntland.

Even though the current participation of women in politics in Puntland is low compared to for example neighboring countries such as Kenya or Uganda, women in Puntland are now more than ever before politically active and engaged. Women in Puntland are organizing themselves in networks and forums and collaborating closely across geographic divides. They are also organizing themselves in NGOs and political and social movements in Puntland and throughout Somalia. In the FGDs it was concluded that women in Puntland and Somali women as a whole are today in more positions of authority and have greater access to information and technology. Despite women’s enthusiams for political office, women entering or already in politics in Puntland face many challenges that range from economic, social, political and institutional. Other challenges arise from tradition and culture, lack of enabling legal frameworks, lack of political will, weak government institutions, economic disenfranchisement, limited access to education and lack of “women for women” mindset.

To support and promote women’s political participation, the study has made several recommendations with a central theme of institutions and stakeholders working together to improve the level of women participation in politics in Puntland and Somalia in general. The government should be supported to establish legal and policy frameworks that promote and support women’s political participation to establish more diverse options for women such as affirmative bases on lessons learned from successful countries. The government should also reach out to the public and engage in dialogue. Civil Society Organization should upscale sensitization, awareness creation and community mobilization to drum up support for women participation in politics. They should also educate the communities on the importance and significance of women’s participation in politics. Awareness creation and education should be specifically directed towards religious and traditional leaders, who should be aged continuously as they are the influencers and gate keepers of society. It should be noted that these recommendations cannot bear fruits overnight. Significant change will only be seen through concerted efforts and collaboration among all the stakeholders.

In the short term, affirmative action is needed to increase the number of women in leadership positions and as well as capacity enhancement of potential and current women leaders to enable them effectively engage in politics. This is necessary to propel the work forward. The study identified a number of knowledge gaps that need to be addressed: (a) Analyze in details the contribution made by the civil society organizations in the promotion of women’s political participation and human rights, (b) Assess the policy gaps on gender equity in governance and politics for women empowerment, and (c) Assess the implications of culture on women’s decision making and political participation.

This study therefore fills a critical knowledge gap in understanding the factors that are influencing the success of women’s participation in politics and its recommendations will play a key role in improving people’s welfare and governance in Puntland and Somalia as a whole. The study will be an important reference for policy makers, researchers, students, NGOs and others who have a close interest on development and related topics.

Read further http://sidrainstitute.org/2-uncategorised/151-women-s-political-particip...

The main goal of this research study was to analyze the factors that facilitate or hinder women’s participation in politics in Puntland State of Somalia. To reach this goal, the study has the following specific objectives:

- To understand people’s perception of politics, elections and the role of Somali women in leadership

- To assess the effectiveness of the legal and policy frameworks regulating women’s political participation in Puntland,

- To assess the factors that contributed to women’s representation in municipal or districts positions, and to determine on the other hand, the barriers or challenges that prevent women from aspiring and achieving political leadership,

- To provide policy recommendations to MoWDAFA, Government institutions, civil society organizations and other stakeholders on how to increase the participation of women in politics, specifically in the anticipated elections in 2016, and


- To help better understand local women’s organizing and advocacy capacity for better women’s political participation taking into account the gains made, challenges and constraints and how this capacity can be enhanced.

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as a staff of weight loss programs in NYC my opinion is, a partnership of International IDEA, IPU, UNDP and UN Women – is moderating an online discussion on ‘Eliminating Discriminatory Laws and Closing Gender Gaps’. Despite ratification of numerous international instruments preventing discrimination against women, discrimination against women in the law prevails in many countries. Across regions, laws protecting the rights of women and girls are either lacking completely or discriminate against women directly or indirectly. Even when gender-sensitive laws exist, there is often poor implementation.