Gathering over 400 participants from 60 different countries, the Global Conference of Local Elected Women took place in Paris on 31-1 February. The meeting saw the adoption of the Paris Local and Regional Governments’ Global Agenda for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life.
With the percentage of women Mayors below 5% and an average of 20% women Councilors worldwide, the participation of women in local decision making has stagnated since the late eighties when many affirmative mechanisms (such as quotas) were put in place around the planet.
Women continue to be a minority in all the spheres of public life. While there is a common understanding that equal involvement of women is a key issue for achieving democratic and developed societies, the original targets set out in Objective 3 of the MDGs do not appear to be enough and the promotion of the political participation of women, particularly at local level, should be higher in the international agenda.
The Agenda aims at becoming a strategic tool to increase the respect for equality between women and men in all spheres of decision-making. It builds on the knowledge gathered by our worldwide international movement and is inspired by the Worldwide Declaration on Women in Local Government and the values and principles contained in the European Charter on Equality of Women and Men in local Life.
It will be implemented within the framework of the MoU signed between UCLG and UN Women through the work at regional and national levels of the UCLG Sections (Metropolis and CEMR) and the Elected women networks around the world.
Over two days women and men from all areas of society discussed the following objectives that are subsequently the guidelines of the Declaration:
I. Increased participation of women in local decision-making, in order to guarantee equal representation and to achieve a successful development agenda Post-2015
II. Equality between women and men at the top of the agenda of local public policy making and adequate service provision to contribute to women’s empowerment and to improving their situation
III. A safe world, in particular for women who are traditionally the most vulnerable to all types of violence
UCLG Founding President of Honour, Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, and Dr. Joan Clos, Under-Secretary General of the UN, recalled the progress that United Cities and Local Governments has made since its creation and called upon the organization, its members and partners to prepare for Habitat III in 2016 where the second Assembly of Cities and Local Authorities will take place. Local and regional authorities need to be even more present in Habitat III and they have the political and moral responsibility to put equality at the top of the new Urban Sustainability Agenda.
Anne Hidalgo stressed the important step undertaken by UCLG in transforming the Gender Equality Committee into a permanent body of the organization. She underlined the crucial role played by the African network, REFELA to undertake this step and the immediate support received by the UCLG President.
The Chair of the Standing Committee also recalled the support of UN Women and UN Habitat in UCLG´s work to promote women's empowerment, particularly highlighting the Advisory Group on Gender Issues AGGI.
Women the world over, gathered in Paris, called for the participation of women in local decision-making to be included as target of the MDGs. Women Mayors and Councillor called for more women to be involved in the development, management and monitoring of public services and for public services to avoid perpetuating stereotypes of women and men.
Local and regional authorities and their partners underlined the importance of legislation on violence and harassment towards women and to acknowledge the particular needs of women in conflict and post-conflict situations. They also stressed the need to work with the media to ensure a responsible involvement in the struggle against violence.
The UCLG Standing Committee will continue its work this year developing concrete actions to implement the Charter and will intensively work improving the representation of women in the governing bodies of UCLG in view of the upcoming electoral Congress of UCLG in Rabat 1-4 October 2013.
Materials of the Conference will be posted on women.uclg.org.
Final statement here.
Interesting news will follow on twitter @uclg_women.