The Empowerment of Women: Beyond Numbers
Yaoundé, Cameroon, 16 April 2005
The accession of a greater number of women to positions of power is not only a necessary condition for ensuring that women's interests are taken into consideration by governments and society but also strengthens a democracy that serves the common good. Yet this goal cannot be reduced to a question of numbers.
For Socialist International Women it is essential to:
- Change the social, economic and political structures that prevent women from truly exercising their rights in a democratic society;
- Implement policies and programmes to reduce the disparities between women and men by taking proper account of gender issues, and to effectively monitor such policies and evaluate their impact;
- Place particular emphasis on a gender based analysis to develop policies and programmes that not only allow women to accede to positions of power but also confer power upon them in reality and to
- Introduce measures to guarantee the representation of women in decision-making posts at all levels of government and political parties.
- Socialist International Women thus calls on member parties of the Socialist International to:
- Encourage and to actively promote alliances between women's organisations, so that they may co-ordinate their activities and provide support to women politicians and elected representatives;
- Offer firm support to women charged with strengthening the position of women within their parties and in society;
- Increase women's capacity for leadership by offering them – especially young women – programmes enabling them to acquire the skills required in their official roles. Women elected to office should act on their mandate by addressing the social, economic and cultural barriers facing most women. They should make use of their skills in conflict resolution;
- Adoptand implement measures to bring about equality between the sexes and ensure that women do in fact play a role in parties' decision-making at every level. Ensure that they are selected as candidates in winnable seats in every election and
- Examine the functioning of parties and replace the mechanisms and practices obstructing women's participation with arrangements that engage the interests of all and take into account the social, economic and cultural context of women.
- Finally, Socialist International Women calls on governments to:
- Ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention, if they have not already done so;
- Implement the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth UN World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995 and the Outcome Document of Beijing +5 adopted in New York in June 2000;
- Adopt a gender perspective in all policies, programmes and budgets. Consistent budgets should be allocated to the promotion of women's rights and gender equality, to reflect the commitment of governments and to
- Ensure that women participate in the conception, preparation and implementation of budgets so as to move on from commitments to their effective implementation and to help meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).