Women account for only about 20 per cent of the world’s MPs. In nearly every country they form a minority in parliament, an institution traditionally governed according to the principles and worldviews of their predominantly male memberships.
Under these conditions, women MPs tend to coalesce and create spaces enabling them to make their voices heard, forge ties of mutual solidarity and contribute to the work of parliament. IPU has identified 81 parliamentary women’s caucuses created over the last 20 years.And the trend continues. More and more women parliamentarians are seeking information about these groups and related practical guidance – how to create a caucus, how to run it effectively and sustainably, and how to find information about existing caucuses.
The purpose of these Guidelines for women’s caucuses is to answer such questions, equip women with the tools needed to create a caucus and outline a standardized, step-by-step process for doing so. These Guidelines can also help to improve the effectiveness of existing caucuses, focusing the attention of parliamentarians on the key issues and all of the various aspects entailed in creating and running a caucus and achieving its objectives. They are illustrated by examples observed in different parts of the world.
These guidelines can also be used in conjunction with IPU’s online database on women’s caucuses (www.ipu.org/wmn-e/caucus), which lists existing groups and provides exhaustive comparative information on 81 women’s caucuses around the world,their structure and composition, the issues they address and examples of their rules.