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Advancing women's leadership in the national election

  • Published at 05:29 pm June 14th, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:05 pm June 24th, 2018
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Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu

A roundtable discussion

Constitutionally, both men and women enjoy equal voting rights and are equally eligible to contest for the 300 general seats in parliament. A stark gender disparity, however, r emains in terms of the number of members elected through universal adult franchise. 

To create a more level playing field, reserved seats for women were introduced in 1973 - they now stand at 50, in addition to the general seats. 

However, the reserved seat MPs are not accountable to any constituencies, and they do not have a direct role in policy-making and legislative processes. 

According to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) 2009, all political parties must have 33 percent of women’s participation in all committees by 2020, including the executive committees. 

Ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls, Democracy International and Dhaka Tribune convened a round table discussion, funded by USAID and UKaid, at the Dhaka Tribune’s auditorium on Monday, June 4. This program was organized under "Narir Joye Shobar Joy" (When Women Win We All Win) Campaign under the Strengthening Political Landscape (SPL) project jointly funded by USAID and UKAID and implemented by Democracy International. 

Titled “Advancing Women’s Leadership in the National Election”, the roundtable discussion brought together multi-level stakeholders, including women politicians, social activists and lawyers, engaging them in a three-hour long discussion to map the way forward for the advancement of women’s leadership in the national elections.


Recommendations


  • Political parties should nominate a minimum number of women for the general seats in parliament
  • Monitoring cells should assess full implementation of the RPO directive, and actions should be taken against the parties that have failed to rigorously implement it

  • Nomination procedures for all levels of office have to be transparent, inclusive and properly evaluative

  • Media campaigns should be targeted at changing patriarchal, social norms that often portray women’s leadership in a negative light

  • Campaigns and debates need to be aimed at making male politicians as allies, and women politicians have to raise their voices at their respective party forums to reform the system from within and end discrimination against women

  • There should be long-term plan for gender sensitive reconstruction of the policies of political parties