tunis forum on gender equality flyer

Thank you for participating in this online consultation.The final set of recommendations which emerged from this theme at the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality can be found here.

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the on-line consultation on the Tunis Forum for Gender Equality 2019. This consultation will take place from 1 – 28 February 2019. This consultation provides an opportunity for all those interested in gender equality to influence the agenda of the Tunis Forum for Gender Equality and contribute to the global debate for 2019 and 2020.

The Tunisia forum will be a follow up to the Stockholm Forum held in April 2018. The focus in Tunisia will be on reclaiming the gender agenda before Beijing +25. We will be looking for the key participation of women and men under 35 who can help frame priorities for the future.

Women’s participation in local government has been increasing over the world, with prominent female mayors in Paris, Barcelona, Yingtan, Montreal, Lucknow etc. as well as Tunis. The Tunis Gender Equality Forum will explore the potential transformative role of women participating in local spaces/local government; in helping render cities safer for women; in working towards more sustainable cities and in re-envisioning transportation systems and public spaces so that they respond to the differing needs of all sections of the population, whatever their gender, age or physical ability.

To take this discussion forward, we propose the following two questions:

  1. What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?
  2. How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/ more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?


Remember, those who are particularly engaged in the online consultation may also receive an invitation to attend in person. If you would like to recommend individuals, preferably from different areas of society, who would be relevant and interested in being invited to the Tunis Forum, please visit use this form (the deadline is 20th February 2019).

We look forward to a lively and engaged discussion. 

1 Feb 2019 - 27 Feb 2019

Comments (141)

SparkBlue Admin

Thank you for participating in this online consultation.The final set of recommendations which emerged from this theme at the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality can be found here.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Dear all, I would be interested to discuss what the lessons are from instruments to have gender-focal points appointed for all local and regional authorities, when has it been transformative? I know of examples in Georgia. What about experience with the quota for women in elected positions in local councils? For example in India. What more is needed to create a powerful movement of change? How can civil society feminist movements support?  Looking forward to the discussions. Sascha.

Tanja Tomic

Our experience in Macedonia shows that when the focal point is strong, "has the ear" of the mayor and has support from women in municipal council, then they manage to make a change. Regarding the quota, it is obvious that for us it's still the only mechanism for women to get elected. We have quotas for municipal councils and we have between 30% and 40% women elected. We don't have quotas for mayors and we have below 10% women getting elected. Another thing that I believe can contribute is to involve the womens organisations in decission making, invite them for consultation on committee meetings, send the bylaws for comments before being adopted etc

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Dear Tanja Tomic, thank you for you lessons from Macedonia. As mentioned by several others, where there are no quota's there is often now progress, so working with quota's for elections at national and local level is an important tool. There are different options, and zip-lists seem to good because it means that after the election the women can only be replaced by women, not the next man on the list. I also support the comment from Gabi, on that it takes more time to work for gender-balance in all institutions, including cooperatives, but that it is more sustainable in the long run. These are important lessons to share, lets hear from others. Best greetings, Sascha 

Marija Blagojevic

Dear Sascha, this is very important issue and thank you for raising it. Quotas are always raising a lot of discussions. 

In Montenegro The Law on election on councillors and members of Parliament has article about quotas, which says that  there shall be at least 30% of candidates on the candidate list from the underrepresented sex. Among each 4 candidates in the candidate list order (the first four places, the second four places and so on until the end of the list) there shall be at least one candidate who is a member of the underrepresented sex. Candidate lists not meeting this requirements shall be deemed to contain shortcomings in respect of its publishing, and the list submitting entity shall be invited to remove the shortcomings from the list, in conformity with this Law. The election commission shall refuse to publish candidate lists of candidate list submitting entities that do not remove this shortcomings.

This made it possible that we now have 23,5% of women in Parliament which is the biggest percentage in our history. That is only because  the order 1 in 4 was established, because when we had 30% without order, they were mostly at the bottom of the lists. The percentage less than 30% is the result of the refusal to adopt 1 in 3 order, and the fact that a number of  parties in the Parliament have less that 4 MPs. 

However, what is really interesting is that in majority of local parliament, number of female councillors exceeds the 30% percentage, in some municipalities even more that 40%. For example, in the capital where I am one of the female councillors, the percentage is around 35%.

This shows that women are more likely to become more visible in local party board and parliaments. This number is very important it has showed us that having female representatives makes it easier to adopt certain policies concerning women empowerment in all areas.

As a result of the joint efforts through several years, almost two years ago we have founded Women's Political Network consisted of 16 parliamentary parties. We have joint platform and advocate issues that we fully agree on. In less than 2 years we have managed to have campaign for changing election law in order to have at least 40% of women on lists by 1 in 3 order, and almost all party leaders supported it. We expect that law will be in procedure during this year, because working group is currently drafting other amendments. The other big initiative has to do with providing funding in local budgets for women's entrepreneurship and we have managed to provide it in 11 out of 25 municipalities, including the capital city. This means that women can bring their ideas and based on set criteria get funding to launch their business. They don't need bank loans, they don't need to mortgage any property. That is actually one of the basic reasons why they don't start new business, because a very small percentage of women in Montenegro have their property due to traditional heritage habits(only 7% have the house on their name, around 11% have their cars..).

My experience has shown me how important is having women in local boards, parliaments, executive bodies, and the importance of educating them regarding specific topics so that they can create visible policies, and prevent stereotypical view of them as "numbers", as those who took a place from a man, as those who should fulfil their set gender roles etc. Empowering women economically in local communities makes huge difference and gives a human face to politics.

Juana Rosa Vera-Delgado

In Peru quota system works partially, either because women do not dare to cross gender boundaries which prevent them to voice and participate in public decision making spaces, or because masculinized culture of those working in public services still make clear that these spaces are masculine domain. 

Marija Blagojevic

This is an issue in a lot of parts of the world. I don't thing think that quotas itself are always the guarantee that really vocal women who want tho empower other women will always get the chance to be in parliaments. In parties you often have mechanisms to put on lists those who will obey. That is why is education from grass roots in movements and in parties important in order to enhance the number of those who will really be dedicated to making the change and speaking out. 

T Michelle Gapinsdal

I think I’m most industrial nations... I feel women are lesser voiced -or manipulated further to establish 𝐌𝐚𝐥𝐞     Regulations. Not always bitter role playing evokes >> bitterness at (from younger women and other ) 🚺

Taís González

We can think of a discussion that addresses the two questions — the empowerment of girls and women through education and ensuring the presence of women in decision-making. 
These measures should be promoted with top-down approaches (through laws that ensure education and participation in all social sectors of girls and women). As well as a bottom-up approach, by offering and encouraging the local participation of girls and women in decision-making. It is important to emphasize that within these spaces of decisions, the presence of women is fundamental to reflect their needs, thus bringing the parity that strengthens democracy and the legitimacy of whatever these decision processes are - local, regional or national level.
However, it is crucial to recognize the key role of women as caregivers and households. Especially in peripheral countries (developing countries), this is a role that is often overlooked, and the focused is usually on how to promote women's financial independence for their "empowerment" and "freedom". Although this is relevant, women are not a homogenous group and supporting the freedom for them to choose what and how to improve their lives should be considered in this discussion.

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear Tais,  this is an important point and relates back to what others have said about the dominant masculine culture in public administration.   Do you think it is possible to do more in the education system to encourage participation?  Given that we hope to attract global participation in Tunis, are you aware of any good practice in this area that might form the basis of a panel discussion on eg how to educate for equality in participation ? 

Zubaida Hussain

Taís González  Thanks for raising these  points. I agree with you and support the suggestions. I would also like to point out that the engagement of men in these issues is very important as in the male dominated society even the men who claim to be liberal do not want the women to come forward and do the things which are considered to be done by men. 

We will have to discuss this matter thoroughly in the coming forum and develop some strategies to involve men in a positive manner. 

Juana Rosa Vera-Delgado

[~55280] precisely masculinity discussion was the issue that I wanted to bring forward when I started my participation in this discussion. We need to raise awareness about the pernicious effect of dominant forms of masculinities ( what some scholars call hegemonic masculinity) on inequalities and environmental injustices. However, there is also forms of alternative masculinities (or non-hegemonic masculinities), which can foster transformative changes, promoting women empowerment and participation at all levels. Here two concrete cases from Peru:

- In some Andean communities, men take care after of household activities, when their wives are busy with leadership or training activities. During women big events, such as regional women organization meetings, men organize themselves to cook for the collective pot ('olla común' in Spanish).

- In water sector, which usually is seen as male domain, engineers are changing, because of they are confronted with new forms of alternative masculinities, which are more sensitive to environmental and gender justice. These male engineers are promoting women participation in decision making and politics by talking and sensitizing men. This prove very effective in convincing men to assume also household care.

If we want a more participation of women in politics, we need to think in strategies, which can relief women from their overwhelming house care activities.

Marija Blagojevic

I couldn't agree more. And i particularly second you on pointing out the importance of both top-down and bottom-up approach. My experience has shown me that you can have the best law in the world, if you don't educate from grass roots and make sure that women who get the positions really understand the issue and are ready to empower other and spekas out, you really have an unfinished business. I have written a little bit in reply to Sascha about Montenegrin experience.:)


Bonjour à tous.

La première action est la promotion de la scolarisation pour tous. Nous devons veiller au maintient des filles à l'école. Ceci permettra d'avoir des cadres aussi bien féminin que masculin. Nous devons promouvoir l'alphabétisation en langues locales et officielles pour renforcer les capacités de ceux et celles qui n'ont pas pu suivre le cursus scolaire. 

Des actions doivent être menées pour une meilleures représentativité des femmes dans toutes les instances de prise de décisions au niveau local. Ceci permettra de prendre en compte les besoins réels des différentes couches en tenant compte des pesanteurs socioculturelles, notamment celles liées aux services sociaux. Nous ne devint pas de vue de sensibiliser également pour faire reculer certaines pesanteurs. 

Une meilleure représentativité des femmes dans les instances communales peut favoriser l'élaboration, la mise en oeuvre et le suivi l'évaluation d'un Plan de Développement Communal sensible au Genre. D'où la budgétisation genre au niveau communale. Elles vont jouer un rôle de veille. A cet effet nous devons développement leur leadership, faire le plaidoyer pour un meilleur positionnement sur les listes et veiller à leur présences au cours des réunions de reddition de compte.

Mbuh Raphael Mbuh

Gender equality is all about creating equal opportunities for both male and female. It is about equal rights for both men and women. It is not about making the two equal. Woman most still remain submissive and subject to a man.


Giving 10cents to someone who has  100 and 10 cents to someone who has nothing is that equality? Equity should be the word.

Mbuh Raphael Mbuh

Thank you for your comment

Pranab Pranab

Since I am from Bangladesh I will be commenting on women in Bangladeshi local government. With an intention to enhance the participation of women in local government bodies, the Government of Bangladesh enacted a law to create a reservation of three seats for women in the lowest tier of local government bodies which is known as Union Parishad to be elected directly by the voters. Since then, around 40 thousand women are contesting the local government elections in every five years for around 15000 posts. There has been an enthusiasm among the women community to get involved in the political process at the local level. Unfortunately, even after 20 years, women have failed to reach to such a position from where they could influence the decision-making process as there are in most cases the minorities in a 13 members body where decisions are taken on a majority basis. Thus, in order to make their presence felt in the decision-making process, a change in the mindset of the male peoples' representatives is required. In a male-dominated societal structure which is dominated by patriarchy, women find themselves in a disadvantageous position as they are required to perform all the household activities before they go for participating in the political process. In addition to bringing changes in the mindset of the male counterparts, initiatives are required to build agency among women as they are in most cases lack knowledge about their rights and entitlements in the UP. Although many NGOs are working to build the agency of women, more interventions are required in this regard to make a transformation in the state of women's political participation. The government also needs to consider initiating more affirmative actions in order to make the enviornment women friendly. 

Zubaida Hussain

Pranab Pranab Thank you very much for your detailed analysis of the situation. I would like to say that the same situation exists in Pakistan..

Pranab Pranab

Yes, Zubaida. This situation persists in most of the South Asian countries. 

Pranab Pranab

In a developing country like Bangladesh, women comprise of half of the total population. Thus, even for the purpose of the legitimacy of a decision, the voice of the half of the population need to be heard in the decision-making process. If there is no participation of women in the decision-making process, the needs and demands of the half of the total population would not get priority. In this case, resources would not be distributed equitably that would hinder the process of establishing sustainable cities. In order to overcome this situation, more proactive laws need to be enacted by the government in order to create more scope for women's representation in the decision-making process. Women's capacity needs to be increased also in order to make changes happen on the ground.  

Frances Guy Moderator

thanks Pranab for these informative observations. Is there any evidence of women's influence on decisions at all despite the challenges you describe?  

Pranab Pranab

Hie Franchis,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, despite challenges, there are success stories of women's influence on the decision making process at the local level. In order to make it happen, Ngos have played the most significant role. For more detailed, you could read my following book:

Panday, Pranab Kumar (2016). Women Empowerment im South Asia: NGO Interventions and Agency Building in Bangladesh, London: UK, Routledge.

When it concerns women's influence at the central it is quite strong as the Prime Minister is a woman.

I have writtent many articles and books on this. You could have a look at my research gate or scholar google profile.

Thanks for your comments.

Prof. Pranab Panday


bonjour à tous! Parler d'égalité de sexes, c'est bouleverser une loi que les hommes ont érigé et s'y confortent depuis belle lurette. Le processus est certes lent mais on y arrivera si  et seulement si nos Etats, nos gouvernants respectent les accords du Millénium Challenge Corporation.

Natasha Dokovska

the inclusive and equal participation of women in all spheres of the political process is important for any democracy. Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms in the constitutional system of the country. However, this is more beautiful than what it really looks like. Macedonia is still stuck with stereotypes, if we analyze gender equality in the country. The 2013 Gender Equality Strategy assesses women's participation in politics as the main goal. Women's participation in leadership positions at the national and local levels is an important focus for global policy development. The legal framework suggests a minimum quota of 40% for women on the lists for parliamentary and local elections. But this figure in the so-called second pole is hard to achieve. Statistical indicators of recent, indicate inequality in many fields. For example, although 57% are women with a doctorate, only 38% of teachers who are employed with higher education are women. On the labor market, unbalanced gender equality is easily seen. This is especially noticeable in rural areas. Women are insufficiently represented in areas of public opinion and media. In the media, the participation of men is 71.8%, compared to 28.2% of women...

The Social Democratic Party conspires in the upcoming elections to have lists with an equal division of seats 50-50, but how real is it ?!
On the other hand, for me personally the quotas also represent a kind of humiliation of a woman, that is, finding a tool with which one force puts the woman in the "game". I think we have to work to strengthen the awareness of both woman and man for her role in society. And that she herself should compete for her place on lists, not because of the existence of quotas ...


The total exclusion of men in the matrix does not translate into anything. Neither does blaming males translate into anything meaningful. The whole equation looses balance when people start blaming. addressing key issues such as the legal and structural  framework and structures that creates disadvantages is the way to go. without that in place all the efforts will count to nothing. Secondly, a woman' nemisis is another woman. We might continue to blame males and yet there is more that needs to be done by females themselves so that they can support each other.


The total exclusion of men in the matrix does not translate into anything. Neither does blaming males translate into anything meaningful. The whole equation looses balance when people start blaming. addressing key issues such as the legal and structural  framework and structures that creates disadvantages is the way to go. without that in place all the efforts will count to nothing. Secondly, a woman' nemisis is another woman. We might continue to blame males and yet there is more that needs to be done by females themselves so that they can support each other. It is not easy to tell an antelope not to be eaten by a lion, but it is easy to tell the lion to change its diet,


I would like to take the questions of the moderator and share with you all conclusions based on experience/theory - theory/experience. Here, I would like to share to main points (1) culture/environment and (2)Law/legislations.

(1) Culture/environment: women who make it to the office elected or appointed find that the environment is not friendly, the culture doesn't accept them fully, and does not support their presence. We need to think how to build a positive environment and how to impact a Patriarchal culture/society. Based on our experience, one way was to support those elected women by providing them with the tools and finances to make initiatives within their locations. By providing the location/village where she is with a needed project such as rooms for one of the schools, providing physical space for the youth, ....etc. any project is to be decided by the location. It will show people in the location that women also can bring and provide needed projects for the location, and she is also capable of making change. The change in the way people look at these women is impacted. Not enough, not sustained but is one of the departures points we used.

(2) Law/legislations: Despite the fact that the quota is in place, it is not enough. We need to encourage women, specially young women to get interested and go for it, go and enter elections, and they will not do it, if not supported. In a place where the quota exists but women are not interested in politics, the quota will be used by men to "allocate" women of their choice. Quota is part of the law. Another part of the law, is to check the age of consent to run for elections so that youth can participate. In addition, elections law should be in position of opening the way and supporting women, youth and specially young women to participate.

Zubaida Hussain

I would like to add that the implementation of laws is more of a problem



Je prends les discussions en cours.

L'expérience que nous développons dans notre programme agricole est basée sur l'instauration d'un pourcentage de 50% de bénéficiaires femmes et de leur positionnement dans les gouvernances des groupements, coopératives et sociétés coopératives afin d'aider le milieu rural à prendre des initiatives révolutionnaires que les villes auront à copier.

C'est un travail fastidieux mais qui commence à donner des fruits. Nous avons un fondement culturel sur lequel nous nous appuyons. 

La région "baoulé"  a des expériences positives de la gouvernance par les femmes. Le peuple continue d'avoir des "Reines mères" et des femmes cheffes de village.Sur cette base, l'acceptation de la femme dans la gouvernance est tolérée. 

Nous avons des femmes rizicultrices, éleveurs de porcs etc.

Nous travaillons à renforcer leur participation dans les différents maillons des chaines de valeur.

Des barrières socio-culturelles persistent mais nous constatons un changement dans le discours des hommes.

Bien à vous


La participation des femmes dans l'espace public est influencée par divers facteurs.

Au niveau de la Côte d'Ivoire, le milieu politique est très violent et cela n'encourage pas les femmes à s'y intéresser. J'ai conduis 2 études, l'une avec NDI et l'autre avec Friedrcih Ebert. Il en ressort que la violence en politique est une vraie barrière à la participation de la femme à l'espace public. 

La constitution n'est pas assez conséquente dans la mesure où elle n'exprime pas la parité au niveau nominatif mais plutôt au niveau électif. Là où les décideurs peuvent imposer le quota ou la parité, il y a un silence. 

Pour moi, la justice, l'égalité doit se manifester dans les maisons des décideurs, cela servira de modèle pour les populations.


Ane Birk-Kamara

We are a long way from gender equality in political decision making, and politics is still a male-dominated space. However, there are now many examples from across the globe of women who have braved their way into this space and established themselves in positions to influence decisions; from women heads of states, to mayors of major cities, to all the women who serve their communities in local government. I would like to see a discussion on what where the supporting factors that allowed these women to succeed; how did they overcome challenges along the way and what where the factors that supported them to reach their goals? A discussion that can both serve as inspiration for more women to get involved in politics, and for those who support women candidates with what is the most needed support or capacity building that can allow them to succeed.

Zulaikha H Shihab

Absolutely, Ane Birk-Kamara -- efforts towards law reforms must not ignore how social norms and understanding of women’s roles and responsibilities within the family also influence her ability to participate in society and in government.

It could be argued that promoting egalitarian economic and caregiving rights and responsibilities within families is pre-conditional to women’s legal capacity and political agency (See Mala Htun, Francesca R Jensenius, Jami Nelson-Nuñez; Gender-Discriminatory Laws and Women’s Economic Agency, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, jxy042, https://doi.org/10.1093/sp/jxy042). Thus reform of laws and policies are pivotal to the next steps of bolstering women’s political and economic participation, such as prioritising those that promote equal partnership between spouses; recognizing, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care work; ending male guardianship; and encouraging faith leaders to use their pulpits to challenge stereotypes regarding roles and responsibilities of women and men within the family. (See “Who Provides? Who Cares? Changing Dynamics in Muslim Families” http://www.musawah.org/resources/who-provides-who-cares-changing-dynamics-in-muslim-families)   ​​​​​​​

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear Soraida, Gabi and Ane, thank you for these very constructive observations.   Supporting women to realise impact at the local level is an interesting challenge, as is, seeking to encourage young women to participate in local decision making.  there is also potential in the idea of using rural cooperatives and enhancing women's participation in village level decision making as a revolutionary example for towns.   Are cooperatives a potential channel for encouraging women's participation more generally?  would that be a good theme for discussion in Tunis?  

Ane Birk-Kamara

Dear Frances, I think this points to the various levels/axes of influence: 1) we need women to enter the established official decision making fora, i.e. local councils and parliaments. At this level, the questions are how can we best support women to succeed as politicians before and after elections; what works as encouragment; what limits women's access. I would be interested in a discussion on which programmes have worked to support women politicians; training, mentoring,... 2) We need civil centers of power where women can gather, mobilize and build their strength, both personally and organisationally. At this level cooperatives are an important form of civil organisation that may be most relevant in rural settings whereas other forms of organisation capture other segments: NGOs, student groups, social movements, etc. While cooperatives are typically linked to a type of production, women in salaried positions may not find this form of organisation attractive. I would be interested in a discussion on how organisation through cooperatives may link and build wider coalitions with groups organised in other ways.

In interaction with these, we also need to 3) encourage and inspire young women at a personal level to dare enter these space and have the courage and fortitude to engage. Can the Tunis Forum provide a workshop with great political role models to inspire young women?

Karina Paola

Hola, atendiendo a la pregunta sobre las cooperativas como una herramienta potencial para fomentar la participación de las mujeres, es una actividad que se realiza en algunos municipios de México, pero sin mayor éxito en la zona rural, considero importante educar para empoderar a las mujeres rurales que se encuentra en una situación aun mas vulnerable que las que habitan en la urbe, una de las  problemáticas de las mujeres rurales es la  falta de información oportuna y veraz, una cultura machista arraigada en muchos sectores rurales hacen que el camino sea difícil y peligroso para su integridad personal. Pero también he observado en algunos municipios rurales que han iniciado a formarse un grupo de mujeres interesadas en tener participación en la decisiones políticas, esto a raíz de la intervención educativa no formal donde se busca empoderar y difundir sus derechos con el objetivo de que cada día la igualdad de género sea una realidad. 

Claro que tenemos historias de impacto para las mujeres que se organizan en cooperativas las cuales obtienen  beneficios económicos, sin llegar al plano político participativo. Considero con una herramienta principal para seguir generando igualdad de participación entre hombre y mujeres es la Educación. 

Natasha Dokovska

In addition to my yesterday's quotation for quotas for greater participation of women in politics, to be misunderstood, I am not against quotas as a tool ... It is more than clear, and experience shows that we have a greater participation of women in politics, the picture will not be the same without the quota, as it is now, and Macedonia is a good example of it, but my view is that we need to work more on raising the awareness of both men and women for its involvement in political life. And to insist on zipping lists, which will not only have the woman on the lists, but will have it in the higher positions on the list ...

Patrick Mwesigye

Thanks all for the amazing comments.

In addition to my activism work from SRHR and gender equality, i also happen to be an elected leaders and i seat in the Kampala Capital City Authority Council. 

Uganda has a law that provides for both district women member of parliament and this goes further to provide for women councillors at the local government level. But despite this law, women representation has been very law in local council leadership with almost 90% of direct elective position taken on by men and women left to only take up the women representative position provided by the quota system. This only accounts for about 30%. For me though quotas are important, i feel like they have been abused and where they exist like in Uganda, still women representation in politics and governance has remained low compared to men that hold political position. 

We might be excited about the quota system for women representation and indeed, we should be because it has contributed to filling up the gap, however as feminists and gender equality activists, we need to look at the BIG PICTURE. The Big Picture in this case is encouraging and supporting as many women and particularly young women pick interest in politics and governance and take up political positions that are largely competed against by men in addition to the quotas. 

But we also need to admit that political environment in the developing world is largely patriarchal since its deep rooted in culture and religion and does not provide a favourable and equitable playing ground for women. For example politics has become very expensive and this has for example increased vulnerability and risk of sexual violence and exploitation of women by wealth business and powerful politicians who promise to support their political campaigns.  

Civic education on governance and politics does not in anyway bring out strong gender equality beliefs and principals and hence we need gender equality sensitive civic education.

We need specific funding mechanism for women in politics to support women standing for political positions.

We need to invest more resources in supporting and building capacity of adolescent girls and young women through mentorship and leadership and interest them in politics at a much younger age from university or even high school.

We need to advocate for more pay for women in politics and leadership because in most cases you find that quota systems for women in politics give women a huge constituency to cover and yet the pay is the same as that of other representatives who represent a small constituency.

Where women have taken on leadership there has been many positive results in supporting and lobbying for increased investments in social services like; education, health, agriculture, safety and security, infrastructure among others. We need to use this a basis for our advocacy.

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear Patrick thank you for this extensive and thoughtful comment.   There seems to be a strong thread here about education and financial support but in your last paragraph you mention that where women have taken on leadership roles there has been positive results;  any thoughts on how that happened? or what they did to make that change and how sustainable it is?  we are trying to build a theme for the Tunis Forum on women for the future in local government. It would be great to have more examples of what has worked and how that might be duplicated but also what are the hurdles so that we might encourage discussion around the hurdles too. 

Bharati Sadasivam

Dear Sascha and friends, on your question about women in governance in India, India ranks 148th out of 193 countries in the percentage of women in Parliament. The picture is worse in state assemblies. The constitutional amendment bill on 33 percent reservation for women was passed in the upper house of parliament in 2010, but it lapsed after the dissolution of that house in 2014. Unfortunately the issue is quite politicized, with parties questioning who benefits from the bill, and allying or opposing it on caste and political lines. The good news is that it may be revived in some of the states in which the Congress party has recently come into power, with a push to take it up at the legislative level.The way this bill has languished for years shows the need first of all for gender equality in political representation to be a legislative priority, and for concerted efforts among lawmakers, across party lines, to push it forward, and for civil society to support and demand it. We have seen successes with gender quotas when this has happened in (albeit much smaller) countries, like Serbia. 

There are many different experiences with quotas - in the best cases in the Europe and C Asia region where I work, we have seen them advance important legislation on women's rights and eliminating violence.

 was interested to see this paper from the Poverty Lab that looks more closely at some successes of gender quotas in a few countries - Lesotho, Afghanistan and 11 states in India. The report says that most of the rigorous research comes from India and data from elsewhere should be viewed cautiously. It says one "way to implement gender quotas is by reserving a certain number of leadership positions for women." Some key results were that "quotas influenced women’s political participation and policy outcomes and increased the provision of public goods aligned with female voters’ preferences. Further, quotas improved men’s perceptions of women as leaders, increased the aspirations of girls, and helped women get elected even after quotas were removed."


Bernadette Lahai

Quality,  affordable and reliable service provision is the main reason why local councils exist. In Sierra Leone local councils were abolished in 1972 and replaced by management committees.  After after 32years in 2004 local councils were reintroduced as a result of the dissatisfaction of service delivery by the management committees.  The consultations leading to the death local government bill recommended  among others a non partisan election of councillors, quotas for women,  youth and persons with disability, formal education not a qualification and equal representation of men and women in the ward developments committees. The first two recommendations were removed from the final draft and subsequently the enacted bill.  14 years down the line it has been realised that partisan elections in local council elections and lack of quotas have left out women,  especially, and good and hardworking men and women out of the councils and quality service delivery greatly compromised.  Therefore quotas to increase women's participation as councillors and non partisan election are serious options to be seriously  considered. Over the years the best councils have been the few that are headed by women in terms of service delivery,  accountability,  transparency and resource mobilisation.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Thank you Bernadette for your input. Could you maybe share with us suggestions on how to actually achieve more quotas to increase women's participation as councilors? 

Bernadette Lahai

Racha Haffar.

Thanks Racha. The literature abounds with the type of quotas and where such quotas have been applied.  When I drafted the affirmative bill in 2011, I recommended first 1 ward in every constituency (112)  to be reserved for only for women candidates of all political parties. That will automatically put a minimum of 112 (slightly over 30 percent)  women in the councils in the entire country out of 325 councillors. Apart from the reserved seats any woman can also contest the other seats. The men asked whose seat will be reserved.  I said nobody' s name is written on those seats. You occupy it when you win for four years after which council is dissolved and u again go for election. If course the has to be through enactment. By in the draft Constitutional review report a minimum of 30seat for women in the councils has been recommended but not for the legislature. Presently efforts and advocacy are underway for a minimum 30percent quota for all elective and appointive positions in governance. 

I was a member of the task force that developed the draft local government bill. We succeeded in ensuring that we have equal representation in the ward development committee 5 men and 5 women and also ofvthevWomen 4 members appointed by the President to sit on the Local Government Service Commission 3 are women. This was a safeguard to ensure that even where government ministry representatives on this Commission  are all men will will have at least three women. We could not succeed in having quotas for women on the Local Government Finance Committee which allocates finances and other resources to the councils. We also recommended that all political parties list sent to National Electoral Council and the Political Parties Registration Commission(PPRC) should have at a minimum of 30 percent female candidates failing which the list will not be accepted.  We also recommended that government should fund political parties through the PPRC which could withhold funding from political parties that are not adhering to the quota. The draft is hoped to be tabled to parliament when cabinet adopts the gender equality and women's empowerment policy. 

Bernadette Lahai

Apart from being women,  who are generally less corrupt,  ashamed to smear their names and those of their families,  there are other factors why women-headed councils have done better.  Previous managerial experience is very important. Managing a school,  financial/credit institution,  organisations/association (social/political), previously worked in a council/borough abroad, good formal education. Determination,  innovativeness,  strong personality, not afraid to make mistakes, discipline and resourcefulness are also characteristics exhibited by these women. It is not only at the local government level.  Consistently for many years,  it is women-led public institutions in Sierra Leone that have topped the best performing institutions during the annual performance management awards such as the National Revenue  Authority,  Environmental Protection Agency,  Audit Sierra Leone. 

Ane Birk-Kamara

The Tunisian system of vertical and horizontal gender parity for all electoral lists provide a good version of gender equality for elections. This system means that no party can register an electoral list unless every second person on this list is a woman (vertical parity). If they register in more than one constituency, every second list has to be headed by a women (horizontal parity). This system means that women are secured equal numbers on the ballots, and they are competing for the same seats as men, not separate quota systems with different and bigger constituencies. In 2018, this system secured that 47 % of politicians elected to local councils were women.

A short coming of the system is that women still have fewer senior positions within their parties, so while the system helps them get elected, they may still have to fight to more influence over policy decisions inside the party structures. Local NGO's, such as Aswat Nissa have provided training to women to build their capacity for campaigning as well as skills and knowledge to help them succeed after election.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Thank you Ane for your valuable addition about the Tunisia context from which we have all been learning, yet we still find these shortcomings kind of prevalent as a result to societal constraints as well. Speaking about presidential candidacy, we notice a huge gap between men and women candidates wanting to run for president. Women face a harsh reality of social criticism and lack of trust and belief not only from men-who don't believe a woman is capable of running a country- but also from women who believe the same thing. What do you think should be done to alleviate this sort of social constraint and push for a more equal picture of president candidates? 

Aswat Nissa

Aswat Nissa is a local NGO that has been advocating for gender sensitive public policies in Tunisia for over 7 years. Like Ane said, we have worked on building the capacities of women politicians’ through our Women’s Political Academy. Our goal is to enable those women to assume elected office so they become true change makers and gender equality activists within their municipalities and political parties. Fifteen (15) of the women that took part in our programs are now municipal officials and several others have now important positions in their political parties. Through our experience we have noticed that several obstacles hinder women’s political participation. Political parties don’t take into consideration women’s needs and security for example when choosing the party’s headquarters or when scheduling the meetings. Meetings are schedule at night, when it can unsafe for women to take public transportation. In addition to that, women are never in leading positions within their parties. According to us, it is very important to set laws for political parties, laws that impose quotas for women in leading positions, also integrating the gender approach even within the parties’ structure. Moreover, in order to ensure women’s participation in politics, political parties should focus on women’s special needs. For example we know that childcare can hold back women from political participation, parties could set daycare.

According to a study that we have conducting in regard to equality in political parties, several measures can be taken in order to increase women’s participation.

-Multiplication of training programs for women members of political parties,

-Facilitation of women's mobility (safe transport transport) and logistics (housing, meeting spaces),

as part of their missions within political parties;

-Improvement of the visibility of women on the political scene, and in particular in the televised media and radio;

- Reinforcement of the confidence of novice women in politics, through practical training and systems referrals from more experienced women politicians;

  - Involvement of men in the process of integrating gender into politics.

- Integration of gender and political training into school curricula.

Ane Birk-Kamara

[~55247] - I think we have to improve the "food chain" of women in politics. Presidents are rarely novices in the political field, which is why I find the Gender Forum's focus on local governance convincing. We need to change the attitudes about women's participation at local level - even as local as in the family! - before we can expect a wide support for women presidents. While the role of the president is obviously important, focusing on this single position is not enough to create a general shift in society.

Mary Tembo

greetings to you all, Eguality can still be attained although it can not be done as we expect it to be, first and far most women and girls need to be educated on the governors issues, from the on set of early childhood education and this should not live boys out. 

we still have less women participation in most issues cause we being under looked and from the up bringing we are told not do certain works as a woman.

i support the idea of policy making that can allow more women to come on bold.

Moneera Yassien


Today Sudanese are uprising against 30 years of dictatorship, youth are leading and organizing protests, women are taking leadership and going in the front of the protests, it estimated that the number of female protestors is larger than males. But the community faced this leadership with perplexity and questions about "How women can do that?" which I believe totally understandable for such social context, I am using this example to highlight the fact that social context with all its components underestimate women's roles in public service provision, and that may not happen consciously, the unconscious biases play a role in limiting and boxing women's participation in the public sphere especially in governance and leadership!

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear all,  thank you for your fascinating contributions so far.  This is just the beginning!  however I would like to remind you that we are seeking to identify some key themes for discussion at the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality - themes around women in local government and how their presence can lead to change.   Bernadette has suggested that in Sierra Leone women led public institutions have helped those institutions gain awards for delivery in public service.  It would be good to understand what it was that those women were able to do that was different.  It was suggested that supporting women in local government with specific projects can help give them visibility and credibility with the local population.  We have also discussed the values of quotas and how quotas at municipal level can lead to influence. And we have mentioned different types of quotas in party lists, zipped systems and possibly the need to reserve key leadership positions if women are to gain political influence.  Above all we have noted the importance of educating young women and men about roads to political activism and we have noted particularly the importance of educating young women to encourage them to play a political role. We have also had some discussion about whether cooperatives can help build women's organisational skills that might then lead them to take on more political roles; and have had examples of where this has happened as well as where it has not.  We can take some of this further in Tunis, for now,   I would like to see the discussion begin to focus on how women's influence in government can help achieve change e.g. in delivering services, in how local government is run and perceived, in rates of corruption, in building new sustainable cities.  

Fatima Outaleb

I hope we will deepen our discussions on quotas and how they have been controlled by men in political parties.

I also invite you all to reflect together on how we can  claim back quotas  to allow women feminists and Human Rights believers defend women’s rights in all elected institutions .

Marija Blagojevic

I am very happy to contribute to the discussion regarding this issue that I am particularly passionate about. Being the MP in local Parliament makes me particularly interested in local policies that empower women. I will gladly share some of the experiences of Montengro and I am very eager to hear other experiences because they were extremely valuable for us when we were launching different initiatives in Montenegro. Looking forward to a very fruitful discussion.

Prabha Khosla

Many thanks for your very interesting experiences and points about quotas. I would like to make a couple of comments from my experience of working on women’s rights, gender equality and local governance.

I support quotas despite the many problems we have had with them. Once we started to speak about quotas and brought them in, they opened up a large political space, platform and intuitional access that as women we did not have before. However, the quotas should be at 50% and not 30%. In all our diversity we are 50% of the population.

A lot of the problems with quotas can be traced to how male power is embedded in local governments which are after all patriarchal institutions. By this, I also mean utilities and senior staff, etc. not wanting to share power with women. Neither do they agree with many of our priorities for allocation of municipal resources to enable equality for women and girls.

So, when we brought in quotas we did not have with them a parallel strategy to address the patriarchal structures of power and decision making to transform local governments. We did not bring in structural changes in municipal governance, management and planning. We did not being in required legislative and policy changes that are needed to re-structure local governments so they are more inclusive of women generally, but specifically women who are low-income, have disabilities, are minorities and experiencing intersecting inequalities. And political parties were not willing to accept the challenge either. We need to discuss and address power.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Thank you all for your insightful inputs. In fact, this last point mentioned by Prabha could be discussed more in depth. I invite you all to share with us best practices from your countries on how to best encourage and engage women with disabilities and special needs to have access to same rights of access to positions of power and leadership. 

Prabha Khosla

Hello Racha,

If we understand that women is not one category and that women and men are not binary, and that who we are as women and men is also impacted by class, race, age, ethnicity, location, disability, etc. and that many women live with many intersecting inequalities then, bringing in this feminist understanding and the principles of feminist practice in our work on quotas, training  for women in leadership, capacity enhancement, etc. is something that we must strive for and do in our organizing. We need to be deliberative in how we engage and enable the engagement of women with disabilities. They are differently abled and very capable. We need to actively work with organizations of women and/or people with disabilities and ensure that how we work is mindful of their realities. Thus, this would require us to ensure that we not only provide childcare when we meet and organize, but that we also provide sign language for the deaf or hearing impaired, we ensure that we have audio and visual aids for women who need them, that the places where we organize and meet are accessible by mobility devices and so are the toilets, that we cover the costs of a companion if they need one, etc. It is no point inviting them to our meetings if they cannot access the meeting nor engage with us. I am on the Board of CRIAW where we are committed to feminist intersectionality in how we work and in our research.

Here is a link to one of our research products on creating inclusive spaces. Hope this is useful to you all. This is just a first step.


Thanks for raising a critical question.

Prabha Khosla

I would like to speak to the question raised above.

  1. What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

While services should be provided equitably to all kinds of women in cities and rural areas, in the interest of reducing poverty and “not leaving anyone behind” as per Agenda 2030, we need to focus services to those who have the least and are most marginalized and experience intersecting inequalities. Inequality is amplified by numerous variables including sex, age, social class or socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, ability/disability and varies based on location and culture, etc.

If we speak to the lives of women slum dwellers for example, we need to look at the multi-dimensional nature of their poverty and how being female especially if one is also a single mother, or older, with disabilities, pregnant, etc.  The right to adequate housing and security of tenure are a good place to start. This will help to stabilize their lives and the lives of their children. Housing is public infrastructure and services.

Here is a piece I wrote last year on the subject of women’s right to tenure, land, and housing in cities.


Infrastructure and services need to be gender-responsive and also ensure the safety and security of women. By infrastructure and services I mean the provision of safe portable water whether from standpipes or connections in her home, sewerage services so she can have a toilet at home and does not have to navigate unsafe and poorly managed toilet blocks or these need to be designed and managed in a gender-responsive manner including with the provision of clothes washing facilities; proper drainage and solid waste remove services, energy and electricity, safe and affordable public transport, health and educational services and childcare, and designated areas for women informal sector workers to be able to work and sell their goods.

Women and girls know the kinds of services they need. Quality and sustainable services provision will greatly reduce women’s time burdens in unpaid care work and enable them to generate income of their own. Generating their own income will go a long way to reducing their poverty. Women and girls should be trained and engaged in creating these services and in operations and maintenance.

  1.  Ask low-income women and girls and the women’s groups that work with them what they need from public infrastructure and services, then provide what they need, in the way they need it.
  2. Focus on structural changes in local governments so that the way decisions are made and resources allocated are gender-inclusive and recognise intersecting inequalities in all aspects of urban governance and management.  Of course, it would be great if we could have strong gender-equality policies and strategies at the municipal level with appropriate resources behind them.
  3. Expand city level data sets with relevant variables such as sex, age, class, location, caste, religion, ability/disability, etc. and use evidence-based decision making for allocation of resources for urban sustainability.
  4. Make the reduction of women’s and girls’ unpaid work in the care economy and the sharing of domestic work a key focus of local government mandates. Let us begin by making quality universal childcare services a core mandate of local governments just as roads and highways are considered core responsibilities.
  5. Use gender-responsive budgeting (GRBs) as a key instrument of how budgetary decisions are assessed and made. GRBs are also very useful for assessing policies related to services delivery as well as the services quality and adequacy of the infrastructure and services themselves.

As an example of what GRBs can do, see pages 131-180 of this document (https://idl-bnc-idrc.dspacedirect.org/handle/10625/47973) about a project that many of us worked on and where we hired feminist economists to do GRBs assessments of water services. The first one is on the opportunity cost of water and the second one is a gender-responsive budget analysis of water and sanitation policies and programmes for low income communities.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Dear Prabha, thank you so much for your valuable input shedding light on the this segment of marginalized rural women. It is indeed a very problematic issue crippling a big number of women in all developing communities. In Tunisia as well, rural women suffer the most and are the ones with the least chance to voice their needs and be represented when decisions are made. 

How could we push for rural women representation during decision making processes? How we make sure that whoever male or female mayor, governor, or PM pushes for those above mentioned rights you stated? 

Prabha Khosla

Racha, I would imagine that how we support low-income rural women and build their capacities for public participation would be similar to what we would do for low-income urban women.

I don't work in rural areas so best for someone else who works with rural women to respond to this question.


Prabha Khosla , thanks so much for raising the point of beyond the  political position to enhance local governance and service delivery . This is completely aligned to the experience I have had over 25 years working with local women in both rural and urban areas in Kenya including that of the work of GROOTS Kenya, an organization I founded 24 years ago.  First , there is a lot of similarity in the barriers,   contribution  and strategies aimed at  strengthening the role  of women in local governance in both, rural and urban set ups.

It is critical that as many  women access political decision making positions,    but this positions often deliver desired impact if  their process of getting to this positions and their role therein is  backed by well organized local women and communities . I ran for a parliamentary position in 2007, and although I never won the seat, I finished the campaign fully convinced and crystal clear how such systemized organizing  would make a difference in pursuant for improved local governance  . Together with grassroots women and collegues at GROOTS Kenya,  we modeled the Champions for Transformative Leadership Project that facilitates communities to organize in support of women aspirants , candidates and those who eventually win the seats. In the last two consecutive elections, the Champions have successfully contributed to the number of women in political positions. Importantly, their role goes beyond organizing to win, but rather walk with these politician to deliver public services that are of priority to the public. The champions becomes the front runners in holding both women and men in decision making accountable from a very informed point of view.  We all know how women aspirants are often violated and manipulated during campaign processes. Systemized organizing that is led by local women groups have stemmed this vice. When women take up political position in a male dominated spaces, they are lonely and may not have as much resources to create infrastructure for right holders  consultations. These champions also continuously become effective  bridges to facilitate ongoing working relationships between those in power and the mass.


Prabha Khosla

Thanks Bharati Sadasivam for posting that article on improving women's representation in politics through gender quotas. It is great to get that overview in a short piece. Clearly more research is needed to assess the outcomes, but on the whole, there seem to have been positive results in the cases that are mentioned in the article.

I feel a serious barrier to women running for political office in many countries including Canada (where there are no quotas at all anywhere) is the various forms of intimidation and violence against women physically and including in social media. Here is an example that I can share of Kristyn Wong-Tam a woman who is a popular councillor at the City of Toronto and the first out Canadian Chinese lesbian feminist elected to political office in Canada. Our last municipal election was hi-jacked by a right wing provincial government and as you will see from the piece here, Kristyn was subjected to terrible sexist and racist violence.


Despite this, she continues to be a great activist councillor!

Tamah Shamangende


The key changes needed at local level to improve gender equality in service provision is

1. Change the mindset of men that woman can be elected into decision making position. 

2. Domesticating international polices into local constitution.

3.creat an enabling environment for woman to participate by enacting laws that protect woman against politically motivated violence. 

The presence of more woman in local government leads to sustainable resources. Woman prioties the needs of their communities, for instance health services, education etc woman always take into consideration services and resources that can sustain the basic  needs of woman and children. It is also important to  mention that woman leaders are not selfish and less not to serve themselves.  What needs to changes is to increase the participation  of woman by legislative changes by adhering to international polices on woman such as CEDAW and Africa Union Protocols. These polices should enshrined in local laws so that more woman ascend to decision making position. 

Ida Bakhturidze

Since I am from Georgia, would like to share our experience about women’s political participation and gender quotas in Georgia.

Because of the cultural and societal barriers contribute to a significant under-representation of women at decision making levels in government, business, and elected office.  Georgia gained its independence from the USSR in 1991 and had its first parliamentary elections in 1992, where was elected only 6% women MPs.

Currently, women hold only 15 percent of seats in parliament. The situation is even worse at the local level, where women hold no governorship (out of 10), one mayoral post (out of 64), and only 13 percent of seats in local councils (out of 2,038). As for the Government of Georgia, only three of the total 12 members of the Cabinet of Ministers are women.

Different studies show, that Georgians want to see more women in politics. NDI’s November 2016 poll found that more than half (56 percent) of the population believes that increasing the number of women in parliament would have a positive impact on Georgian society, with 62 percent of women agreeing with the statement (only 49 percent responded in the affirmative). According to the same poll, 66 percent of respondents believe that men are more involved in public life than women, while 63 percent think women are not brought up to be leaders. Half of the respondents also believe that women politicians are not treated equally by their male colleagues. In NDI’s December 2017 public opinion poll, approximately half of the respondents (49 percent) stated that it is important for the party they support to have a balanced representation of female and male candidates.

The question then is where we should look for the problem if the society has already changed and is ready for increased women's participation. Different studies shows that we should find the problem within the political parties. Georgian political parties have an explicitly "masculine profile". Thanks to this domination, men lead and establish formal and informal rules inside the parties. These rules operate as barriers for women who are unable to build their political carriers. As one of the main barrier for women’s political participation is political party, we think, that legislative party quotas, can be effective instruments for achieving women equal participation in politics.

Quotas are used in many countries around the world to improve women’s participation in politics by setting a minimal threshold of female representatives in elected office. Until 2014, the discussion around mandatory gender quotas in Georgia took place mainly behind closed doors by mainstream women’s rights organizations. On 13 February 2014, the Task Force on Women’s Political Participation in Georgia (the Task Force) was established by local civil society and international organizations. The Task Force has been actively advocating for amendments to the Election Code of Georgia to introduce mandatory party quotas in Parliament. On 8 March 2015, the Georgian Women’s Movement, an informal women’s initiative composed of more than 600 women activists, held a demonstration called “More Women in Parliament” in 25 cities throughout the country in support of mandatory party quotas. Moreover, 60% of the population of Georgia supporting the adoption of mandatory gender quotas according to NDI’s December 2017 public opinion poll. The latest legislative initiative to enact gender quotas, while ultimately unsuccessful, was supported by more than 37,000 Georgian citizens, but Georgia’s parliament has rejected a bill in March, 2018 – the bill gained the support of only 66 MPs, while it needed at least 75 in order to proceed. After the vote, parliamentary chair announced that the ruling party Georgian Dream party planned to present a new bill on gender quotas, which would guarantee at least 25% of MPs to be women. This new bill is not submitted till now.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Dear Ida, thank you so much for this great input that show us how eventhough the society has become more accepting to women participating in decision making, yet we find political parties are the ones blocking this change. The question, as you said, is what should be done to change the political parties agendas and internal barriers to women participation? 

Could you tell us more how could the above mentioned task forces be constructed in an efficient way to advocate and push for women participation in politics? Maybe other countries could take some practical lessons from the Georgian example. 

Ane Birk-Kamara

[~55247] - In their comment above, Aswat Nissa spell out a list of concrete suggestions to improve women's participation in political parties.

Tamah Shamangende

I agree with you Ida

Prabha Khosla

Dear Ida,

Many thanks indeed for the insightful details about women in political decision making in Georgia. Your comments shows what a long journey we all have. It sounds to me that with continued mobilization of the women of Georgia you will get to make your demands heard by the men in political parties loud and clear. I think it also helps to cultivate male champions within the parties who will lead the calls for institutional change (with the women inside) in parties for parity. Just so you know, and if I am not mistaken, it took French feminists over 10 years of organizing across parties to get parity in political parties in France.


** Gender-Responsive Local Governance

- it is evident that some countries has established a comprehensive legal and policy framework for gender equality at both central and local levels. However, despite the presence of such guiding frameworks for local government, decentralization and local governance processes are not automatically gender-sensitive, nor inclusive of women and men, girls and boys. , 
so why local governments matter in promoting gender equality on the one hand, and, on the other, why it should matter to local governments to promote gender equality.
Local governments are key actors in making governance processes more equitable, inclusive and accountable. And governance that is more equitable, inclusive and accountable is ultimately more effective and efficient!
Before we explore why local governments matter, however, we should first make clear what we mean by “gender-responsive local governance”. We know that gender mainstreaming - the official tool for achieving equality between women and men - requires that all policies, programmes and
processes take into consideration their potentially different impact on men and women, boys and girls. This is because our ideas about the different roles, responsibilities and attributes of women and men that are specific to each and every culture, mean that women and men have different – and unequal - access to and control over decision-making, resources, information, services,
and programmes within families and communities.
So, local governance that is gender-responsive means considering HOW and WHY local governance structures, processes, policies, programmes and activities affect women and men, girls and boys and girls differently.
The European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life, developed by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and its partners, states that local governments are not only obliged to make sure that their governance systems respond to the different needs, interests and priorities of women and men, girls and boys, but that gender-responsive local governance is actually the key to social and economic development at local, regional and national levels . 



Creating a vision for the future of integrating people with disabilities into sustainable development, as the issue of integrating people with disabilities into development is one of the central development issues at the global level.
, As it is also an issue that is also of great importance in the development orientation of the Egyptian state, where people with disabilities or people with special needs come first to the determinants of development programs and plans in Egypt.
Especially those with special needs, are a large segment of the Egyptian society. Among them are many distinguished scientific and mathematical models in various fields. The State views them as a major part of the labor force and an important component of the enormous human wealth enjoyed by the Egyptian society. The largest investment in human beings.
 The President of the Republic's declaration of 2018 for people with disabilities is intended to emphasize the interest in this category and to motivate and encourage the various State bodies as well as the private sector and civil society to play their role in enabling this group to obtain all its rights. The State's concern for persons with disabilities takes a comprehensive perspective on the various institutional and legislative aspects As well as political and developmental.

On the institutional side, the National Council for Disability Affairs was established in 2012, as the body concerned with the rights and affairs of this priority group in the interest and care of the various bodies and organs of the state. On the legislative side, Rights of people with special needs.
Among them is Article 81, which stipulates the State's obligation to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities (and pygmies), health, economic, social, cultural, recreational, sports and educational, and to provide them with jobs, , And their integration with other citizens, in accordance with the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunities.
As for political participation, we have for the first time in the Egyptian parliament nine deputies with disabilities. The state also works to integrate women with disabilities into the National Council for Women and the Council of Representatives to ensure that the policies and legislations adopted by the state are more sensitive to the needs of this most favored group Especially women
 The Strategy for Sustainable Development The vision of Egypt 2030 has defined in the social dimension the goal of building a just and united society characterized by equality of rights and economic, social and political opportunities and the highest degree of social integration. It supports and protects the segments of society and its most favored groups, People with disabilities come first.

The vision of Egypt 2030 has set a number of objectives and mechanisms that achieve the economic empowerment of people with disabilities by providing decent opportunities for them and enabling them to be educated both in schools and pre-university education or in university education.

 The Egyptian government continues to work to implement this approach through the government's work program for the period 2018-2022. The programs of empowerment of people with disabilities are educational, economic and social as one of the points of convergence of the strategic objectives and the different axes of the government's work program, which comes within the strategic objective of building Egyptian construction, The development of the Egyptian state, work to provide education for all without discrimination, care and education for people with special needs.

A model center was established in the special education school in Giza governorate, which aims at providing integrated services, providing a system for scientific research and training that meets quality standards, and opening 1600 classrooms for those with visual and hearing disabilities during the four years of the program.

Within the framework of the strategic objective of improving the level of employment, work is being done to provide people with special needs through activating the executive regulations for the new law of disabled persons (No. 10 of 2018), raising employers' awareness, organizing 100 employment forums and more than 90 seminars benefiting a large number of people. special needs.

The Government works within the framework of the strategic objective of improving the standard of living to protect, rehabilitate and empower those with special needs through the development and implementation of performance standards in accordance with international standards on all institutions of care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities under the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the development of 650 institutions of care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, % Of people with disabilities applying for work (compared to 40% currently).

Racha Haffar Moderator

Thank you Ahmed for the detailed information and your great reporting about Egypt's efforts in this matter. I noticed that you mentioned that the state works on integrating women with disabilities into the National Council for Women and the Council of Representatives. Do you have any exact information regarding this point? any exact numbers of women of this specific group actually making it to these councils? and what their contributions have been so far? How involving them in decision making actually improved the lives of others? 



Dear .. Racha , thanks for yours comment and respond .. we can be found 9 women with special needs in the Egyptian parliament and belonging to different political groups representing different categories .. In addition to the National Council of the woman and the National Council for the Disabled, and they have had a great impact in the political life in Egypt after the events of January 2011.  allocated 100 million Egyptian pounds ($ 5.6 million) to the fund to support the "disabled" in the country, with a population of 10 percent of the total population of 104 million.
 . A law that allows "to deduct a small portion of every citizen who receives funds from the state for the benefit of the Fund" and the fund "Tahia Egypt" (under the presidency of the State) will fund his counterpart for the disabled with 80 million Egyptian pounds.
• Expanding the availability of the engineering availability code (requirements in designing buildings and facilities to suit the disabled) for people with special needs in all youth and sports facilities at the level of the Republic, while increasing their international participation in artistic, cultural, social and sports activities and equating them with Olympic, At the international level, in their financial awards. " Earlier, Sisi chose 2018 as a year for people with "special abilities".
. In the areas of housing and health, "availability of engineering availability code in all facilities and apartments will be examined to alleviate hardship for persons with disabilities, as well as to provide comprehensive health insurance to all of them nationwide, to provide mental health services in comprehensive health clinics, primary health clinics, And to pay attention to occupational therapy and speech therapy, with the provision of compensatory devices and all the necessary medical tools for them at nominal prices, with the dissemination of discovery and early intervention in the centers of family health in the provinces, to discover disability and provide treatment programs ».
. Preparation of a comprehensive statistical statement on people with special needs in Egypt, including their actual numbers and type of disability, areas of excellence and the most important needs of the state ».
. The Egyptian Sports Federation for Mental Disabilities, in cooperation with the Ministries of Youth, Sports and Social Solidarity,
. The adoption of the law of persons with disabilities, the achievement of local, regional and global championships, the selection of deputies with disabilities, in addition to the presence of access codes applied in all new cities ».
 Develop plans, programs and projects, and give special attention and care to those with special abilities to improve their skills and develop their abilities and integrate them into society by providing them with the opportunity to practice all cultural, artistic, recreational and sports activities in all youth and sports institutions and institutions in all villages and cities of the Republic And civil society organizations. "

Bharati Sadasivam

I am glad we are raising issues facing the urban poor in this discussion (thank you Prabha). It seems that in all the talk of smart cities and innovation these days the focus is mainly on technovation, setting aside issues that cannot be solved by technology. I feel that the work done over decades by organizations like Shackdwellers International and SPARC in India (which is a member of SDI) is more relevant than ever and needs to be at the forefront of smart city initiatives. In essence they have given a voice to the urban poor for participatory decision making at the local level on issues that affect their lives - "putting people at the centre to fight urban poverty" -- http://sdinet.org/ Women have been critical to these efforts and in India have set up cooperative models such as Mahila Milan - http://www.sparcindia.org/aboutmm.php 

It would be great if the Forum could engage with organizations like this. 

Racha Haffar Moderator

Dear Bharati, thank you for pointing out this important point. It is indeed focal to focus on voicing the needs of the urban poor and involving them in participatory decision making. Could you maybe share more details on this matter? How to actually make this a priority topic for discussion that gets full attention for action? 

Prabha Khosla

Hello Racha, it is not clear to me what you are asking for here. There is a lot of work being done by all kinds of local women's groups as well as various organizations of slum dwellers and NGOs in changing local governance and services provision as well as their Right to the City. They have all already said in various forum what needs doing to reduce poverty and for gender justice.

If you need additional policy, budget and land-use planning guidance on for example women in the informal urban economy have a look at the work of WEIGO which is a network focusing on securing the livelihoods of no income or low-income women in cities.


Hope this is what you wanted.

Zubaida Hussain

Measures to enhance women’s participation in politics despite being supported through affirmative actions are still contested. Despite the fact that women constitute almost half of the world’s population, have lower presence in the elected political bodies. The proportion of women as MPs in 176 parliaments in 1995 was only 11.6 percent . During 2003, there has been a slight increase in representation of women, which stands at 15 percent globally.

However, there is still a long way to go as this increase is comparatively at a lower rate. In order to increase women’s representation at a relatively faster rate, various methods such as the electoral quotas have either been proposed or implemented to address the present gender imbalance in decision making  Allocating quota for women can prove to be a good strategy to overcome the factors that hinder women’s participation in political process. The number of female representatives in a number of countries has increased due to  the reservation of seats either through self-imposed party regulations or through legal action by the state .

Proponents of the quota system believe that it can lead to women’s empowerment. However, they do not explain as to how the one leads to the other.

We can  consider political presence as a ‘top-down’ approach.  It can serve as a symbolic recognition for the disadvantaged groups but  one can not claim that women are really ‘empowered’ now, one can also not deny the fact that a certain gain of power has taken place as a direct consequence of the quota’ especially taking into consideration that other women’s empowerment strategies employed by the government during the last five decades have paid less dividends.

But the point is that  the quota alone cannot secure women’s empowerment. A number of additional strategies e.g. building women’s capacities, removing structural barriers etc. are needed to be employed.  Women may not necessarily represent women’s interests especially in the absence of strong women’s movements . Political representation may not necessarily lead to empowerment.

Studies have found  that democratic local government does increase participation and representation but does not necessarily enhance empowerment of non-elite groups nor does this form of government make the distribution of benefits more equitable. Another argument stated to support this notion is that women may not necessarily protect the interests of other women.  There are no guarantees that women representative will work for the benefit of other women because in many cases women get into politics because of personal connections or support form elites. As a consequence they may be unable or unwilling to support grassroots women’s interests  

I am writing this in the perspective of Pakistan

Prabha Khosla

Thanks for your comments Zubida. I agree with much of what you have said. What we need is clarity that we are engaging in these processes from a feminist analysis and standpoint. We need to elect feminists to senior positions to affect change and we need a systematic approach with relevant resources to make structural change. Of course, having and growing a large feminist movement is critical to real change.

Dolores Aguirre

Coincido con varias personas integrantes de este foro acerca de la utilidad del sistema de cuotas como una herramienta estratégica para favorecer y promover la participación de las mujeres en los espacios políticos de toma de decisiones. Personalmente, considero que el porcentaje debería ser 50% y 50% y no porcentajes menores (como ocurre en Argentina, al menos). Asimismo, las leyes deben asegurar a las mujeres que se integran las posibilidades de tener acceso a los cargos para los que se postulan (evitando que el cumplimiento de la cuota sea una mera formalidad). 

De todos modos, el sistema de cuotas no es suficiente, si bien hay que reconocer que es una herramienta estratégica importante en la materia de igualdad de género. 

Asimismo, pienso que las instituciones deben humanizarse para satisfacer las necesidades de todos y todos los integrantes. En este sentido, la experiencia de  Jacinda Ardern, en la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas de 2018 es un primer ejemplo que merece ser destacado y celebrado. 

Por lo demás, creo que debe repensarse la estructura jerárquica de las organizaciones y otorgar dinámicas más horizontales, con coordinaciones más rotativas.

Otro aspecto clave para la igualdad de género es la implementación de políticas sostenibles y duraderas para reducir la pobreza, sobretodo la pobreza estructural. La representación política es un tema muy complejo y creo que nadie conoce mejor las necesidades de un sector que las personas que han pertenecido a él. 

Finalmente, el Poder Judicial es uno de los sectores más rezagados a la hora de incorporar la igualdad de género, sobretodo en los lugares jerárquicos más importantes. Debería propiciarse que el sistema de cuotas también se aplique en esta área de gobierno. 

Un saludo muy cordial desde Argentina.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Hola Dolores, muchas gracias para tu contribución! Me gusta mucho tu ejemplo del Prime Minister de New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, I switch to English. I like what you mention about the importance of role models, and of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who so clearly demonstrated that the highest governance reponsibilities can of course be combined with family live, and who brought her husband and her baby to the General Assembly of the United Nations. I like also the anecdote that there had  never been a baby of a Head of State at the United Nations, so they did not know what type of entry-badge to give to the baby: so as they would do for the badge for the spouse of a male Head of State, - where they would have used the term First Lady - they decided to give the baby a badge called 'First Baby'. The photos of Jacinda and her baby and spouse at the UN went viral on internet. And are indeed a very important role model. I was proud to share the images with my daughter.

Also a very important remark you make about the need to have women in the judiciary. Having women judges is crucial. We have seen how that can give very different outcomes to court cases dealing with violence against women. The same goes for more women in the police. You support quota systems to increase gender equality in the juridical system, which indeed has shown to be very effective. 

Thank you for these contributions! 

Frances Guy Moderator

it will indeed be good to see how we might involved the voices of organisations like Shackdwellers in the Forum in Tunis.  I think the question we are trying to get at is how to use the presence of women in local government to help ensure the voices of are heard and the needs of the poorest are provided for - making an assumption that women in local government might be able to be a catalyst for this type of change.  So quotas to help get women into power locally, but how to help them make a difference?  and can they make a difference ?  

Bharati Sadasivam

Hi Frances I think we could look at a session/s that probe the extent to which women's leadership at local levels has made excluded voices heard and what challenges they encountered in concrete terms (these are compounded by caste/ethnic/group factors in many countries with gender not always being paramount). But I would also not make gender-responsive services the domain of women alone, but try and expand this into a discussion between men and women in local government, taking examples where gender has not mattered in inclusive policies and services. For SDI/ related organizations working with the urban poor, we could perhaps bring them into a session on smart cities and gender equality, to show that innovation that benefits the poor can also be social innovation by the urban poor themselves, and not only tech-driven. 

Prabha Khosla

Frances, I don't understand why this conversation is only positioning the election of women to local government as the primary vehicle to obtain gender equality for women and girls. Can you please explain this? I know that this is a target for the SDGs, but really, there are many other things that can be done for women's rights and gender equality at the municipal level, not the least of which is legislative and policy changes and the implementation of CEDAW for example.

Tamah Shamangende

Hi Frances, I think the only way to solve the problem of women's subordination is to change people mindset and to plant the new idea of gender equality into every mind.

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear Prabha,   We are not trying to focus exclusively on the election of women at local level as a primary vehicle to help gender equality but we are trying to tease out what kind of changes have happened as a result of increased numbers of women in local government and to try and identify areas where women in local government could focus activity/policies etc to lead to transformation. This ought to be a dynamic area of change and it would be great if the Tunis forum could help identify where this dynamic change could be and make some recommendations.   It would be good to bring out all the areas of change that are possible at a local level, whether implemented by women in elected office, by men, or indeed by unelected officials.  this online debate is supposed to help tease out the options for further discussion.  thanks 

Prabha Khosla


Thanks for the clarification, Frances. Getting women elected to political office at the local level does not guarantee changes in the structures of ruling - governance and decision making. Those are only going to happen with the political mobilization of women in cities/communities themselves.

Here is something that I had put together a while ago and modified it a bit recently.

Some Necessary Conditions for Promoting Women’s Rights and Gender Mainstreaming

Champions/ Leaders - Political will and commitment are required at the senior level in local government, and preferably with the mayor, CEO, town clerk or councillor/s acting as champions. This/these champion/s would be responsible for building the critical mass needed within municipal structures to carry the gender mainstreaming process forward. Political will, commitment and action are needed for the long term, and not just for one term of office and the election horizon.

The Policy/Legislative Framework - A gender equality policy framework (inclusive of other social relations such as race, caste, ethnicity, ability/disability, age, sexual orientation, etc.) with a clear strategy and action plan for policy implementation. The action plan should explicitly mention who is responsible for what and set time-bound targets.

Funding/Resources - Budgetary allocations with relevant staff are needed for the success of any gender equality initiative. Money speaks louder than recommendations and mission statements.

Partners – These engage with the local government on a continuous basis and include women’s  groups and civil society organizations that advocate for gender equality and addressing intersecting inequalities.

A Commitment by the municipality to collect, analyze and use sex-disaggregated data as well as data dis-aggregated by other social relations is critical.

Learning and Capacity-Building - A continual process of gender sensitization, advocacy and lobbying both inside local government and with municipal partners in the public and private sectors.

A Focus on women and girl-specific programmes and activities along with gender-specific ones. Short of these, no gender mainstreaming strategy can succeed.

Transparency and Accountability - An open and transparent process of accountability to women and girls and all residents when implementing gender equality policies and strategies.

Gender-sensitive indicators and targets should be monitored jointly by local government and women and men in civil society.

Anju SHRESTHA (Awnu)

1. In My country Nepal, it is one of the progressive government in Asia Pacifc as the minimum % percentage of women in local bodies should be 33% Percentage.  However the decision making power still lie within the men in most cases. 

The gender equality in service can only be achieved in most cases if all genders equally make decision making. Also for most cases in service delivery such as " Maternity Clinics " women should have more authority for decision making from grassroot level to ministry level.

2.  As mentioned above, the changes need to be make in all sectors as a parallel approach. Taking a good examples of Nepal in Local Bodies (33%) as well as taking example of Canada where (50%)of parliment is women, the changes can be achieved slowly in other countries and other sectors .

The resource allocation should be equal but this will only start or be achieved if we are able to educate all girls and women. If they are educated equally as men, the chances of achieving 50:50 targets will be quick.

Prabha Khosla

Hello Anju, I have to correct your mis-understanding of the Canadian parliament and women. 50% of the Members of Parliament are not women. Far from it. We only have 88 elected members of parliament who are women out of 338 in total. This from the last election 4 years ago. We have a long way to go to get to parity. Half of the Ministers in government are female. These are two very different things.And things could get worse with the next election. In Rwanda on the other hand, women make up 50% of parliament and maybe even more!

Sangeet Gopal Kayastha

Thank you for the points. !

Chibuzor Pearl Alaegbu

Hello Sacha, Frances and Friends, I think the global call for gender equality is yielding results with the recent victories for women in various spheres, albeit it is slow especially in developing countries. And like it has been observed by several people here, it is largely due to cultural orientations. I am writing from Nigeria where these cultural barriers have given women a distorted sense of self-worth, make us second guess ourselves and even criticize those of us who dare to break out.

 I quite agree with the quota system allowing women a certain percentage of seats in governance, but if the underlying causes of poor representation of women in governance are not dealt with, women will still not rise to the occasion

On your questions, here are a few suggestions

1. Cultural desensitization and reorientation especially on gender inequality. Preaching gender equality to all (men and women) of different ages using various tools. This can be achieved by

  • Including gender-sensitive civic education as a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Young people should get a grasp of this concept very early in life that they as grow there is a break from the norm and a sense of equality between males and females. Our schools should be a breeding ground for strong women and should promote gender balance. It may take a while to get countries to adjust or redesign their curriculums for this purpose, but campaigns bothering on the issue can be underway.
  • Women can also be reached using traditional institutions. Considering that many developing countries operate traditional chiefdoms that have women wings, these institutions can be tools to reach older women particularly those without formal education. We can advocate for legal backings and government support to these women institutions to make them stronger, grant them unlimited access to tools of governance thereby opening up larger spaces for them in governance and participation in high decision level decision making processes.
  • The men should not be left out in the desensitization campaign and these traditional institutions are also tools to get to the men.

2. Access to information; We can improve on ways and means through which women access information. This is an issue in developing countries, so women have certain number of seats set aside for us in government, certain intervention programs for women but are not even aware of such opportunities. So part of the discussion should be building information sharing networks for women particularly in developing nations. These networks can build up to a larger network which allows for regional and global interaction among women from different spheres.

3. Capacity building and empowerment; Building the capacity of women to engage in politics and deliver quality services if elected or appointed is key to getting more women to participate and garner support for women in governance. In Nigeria, the general acceptance of women leadership even among female folks is really poor and politics is a game of numbers. One prominent cause of this is that so far, very few elected women have lived up to expectation as most still look up to their male counterparts for cues.

The second argument for building the capacity of women is that be it as it may, playing in a male-dominated zone with little support needs all the knowledge muscles and fighting power you can pull. Going in blind means dying before you can even throw the first blow. (I use these terms figuratively).

4. Special incentives; It also makes sense to advocate special incentives for women who seek to be elected and also for local councils that have women as council chairperson. This will encourage women to participate and also encourage the acceptance of women in leadership.

Racha Haffar Moderator

Dear all,  thank you so much for your amazing insights and contributions. Indeed, the discussion got more in depth in the 2nd week of our online consultation and we are still looking forward to your input in the coming 2 weeks!

Just to remind you that we are seeking to identify some key themes for discussion at the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality - themes around women in local government and how their presence can lead to change.

So far, the 2nd week discussions have focused more on these following points:

  • Ane mentioned the Tunisian model of vertical and horizontal parties, yet it is flawed because women have fewer senior positions within their political parties. This thought was also consolidated by Ida who said that political parties are the ones blocking women from leadership positions.

  • Aswat Nissa shed light on the importance of political parties paying attention to women’s special needs when it comes to assisting to meetings at night or in unsafe areas where women can’t access for lack of security.

  • There was a great deal of focus on quotas in different countries. According the Prabha, quotas should be at 50% and not 30% because women constitute 50% of populations. This should be put with a parallel strategy to address patriarchal structures that dominate decision making positions.

  • Prabha also introduced the topic of poor rural women and slum dwellers in the discussion. She highlighted their daily struggles to access the minimum services they deserve and how infrastructure and services need to be gender-responsive to ensure their safety and security.

  • Tamah shifted the discussion toward highlighting how the presence of more women in local government leads to sustainable resources as they prioritise the needs of their communities.

  • Zubaida argued that quotas alone don’t secure women’s empowerment as in many cases women get support from personal connections or elites to get into politics, therefore that might not guarantee fair representation of women.

  • Prabha also pointed out that to guarantee these women elected to positions would for sure serve other women, they should be feminists. ​​​​​​​

  • Ahmed introduced the issue of integrating women with disabilities into development and how giving them access to leadership positions would guarantee many others get more rights.

  • Dolores introduced the important role of the judiciary in incorporating gender equality.

  • Anjua, spoke about the importance of education. And this was consolidate by Chibuzor’s and Mary’s points on the importance of also educating men and boys.

  • And finally, Chibuzor shed light on two issues; importance of civic education and access to information. The latter is crucial in giving women access to same opportunities as men.

These have been eye opening discussions that shed light on important points. We can definitely discuss them further in the coming weeks and in Tunis. I would like to leave you with these points in mind to guide you or maybe ignite the next discussions:

If women got to power and leadership and they started to influence governments to achieve change, what are these changes at the levels of services? And how could they lead to sustainable cities and more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

Mariel Lourdes Escartín Ríos

Hola soy Mariel Escartín, presidenta de La Fundación Yo Soy Los Elementos , Panamá . Doy gracias por darme la oportunidad de participar en el tema Mujeres en la gobernabilidad local en ciudades sostenibles. El diseño exitoso es la interacción con la comunidad. Realizar censo para determinar las insatisfacciones de la población y se gobierna a partir de ese estudio. Maximizar el entorno construído y aprovecharlo para resolver múltiples problemas a la vez. Crear una conciencia sobre el medio ambiente, es una guía de diseños de arquitectura . Nuestras ciudades sean sostenibles socialmente resilentes , ambientalmente en términos de gobernabilidad con producción económica, presupuestos participativos . Junto al avance de la ciencia y la tecnología . Todos estos desafíos demandan la generación de conocimiento aplicado , específico con la intervención de alcaldesas de forma inteligente e iluminadas.

Mary Tembo

We need to have to review the on going progress in women empowerment and gender equality.

-review on high level policy dialogue on current developments.

if more women are empowered and they have enabling enviroment they will be able to stand up and speak out. with the emphasis on educating them on the need to take part in community activity, we are the key to success to make change in the world.

We need to start supporting other women in order to make things work .

women need good market and eco-friendly platforms to discuss  prices and these will lead to sustainability , because the essential needs for all will be meet. women are mothers.


Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Good morning from Moldova everyone. I would like to pass the first question by you once more, and use the last 3 days of this online discussion to look at some other good practices 

What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

One practice I would like to look at his how to engage women in planning and shaping their cities and communities.

The other practice I would like to look at is how to engage women and feminist organisations from civil society. 

I learned recently that some cities, for city planning activities, when consultation meetings are held where the local citizen's are invited, special efforts are made to engage women. They take measures such as encouraging women AND men to bring their children, and  there are play corners for the children and professionals to look after them while the adults engage in the consultation. The entire meeting is made more festive, with colourful decoration. I wonder if others have experience with engaging women more equality in shaping their communities? 

Another example I would like to ask your feed back on is how engaging women's organisations can be important to engage more women and increase gender equality in service provision, such as for water, sanitation or energy. This is an example for Kyrgyzstan where a women-lead organisation Kyrgyz Alliance for Water, has created a network of service providers for water supply in rural villages where there was no water supply. In An Oston village for example, they have over the last 5 years created the drinking water well, purification system, laid the water pipes and the families pay for the connection into their homes, so that they have running water in the kitchen and bathroom. They created their own water operator association, and the community gets together to vote the budget, which sets the water fees which the households pay. They elected team of women to run the water operator. Recently more and more young women and men are settling in the village, moving back from the city, thanks to the improved living conditions.  

It would be great to hear more examples, on what you have seen what can work, and what challenges there also are. Looking forward.

Tamah Shamangende

Hi Sascha

Where I come from in Zambia, sustain  cultures they don't allow women to do sustain things  like for example to mentioned what you said on sanitation. Lets fight gender stereotypes  their is need for more sensitization.

Juana Rosa Vera-Delgado

In Tarija-Bolivia, women were also included in the consultation, design, construction and maintenance of 'rain harvest system' to supply drinking water at both collectively and individually. Women were also included in the water users board to manage the water supply system, which actually is working efficiently. Before this experience, women had to walk long distances to collect polluted water from river and lakes. This project is being championed by CCIMCAT-Tarija.

In an indigenous community (Kankintu) in Panama, a group of women were trained to learn on how to install and maintain solar energy panels in their communities. Since then, these women gained visibility, recognition and respect from community members. Especially community male members and local authorities talk proudly of these women, when outsiders visit the municipality. Any new installation of solar panels has to be discussed with this group of 'energy women leaders' (local way how people name them). This trained programme was supported by ILO, as part of its 'Decent Work' agenda.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Thank you Juana, for this very interesting and inspiring example!

Abdelrahman Elzein

There's a huge issue in Sudan regarding women representation in positions of power, and it's not just the percentage of seats they hold. The main issue is that the system is entirely built on nepotism, which might seem unrelated, but it's a powerful way to have token women in the government falsely speaking for other women. The prevailing attitude of these women in gov suggests that they operate on a notion that they're secondary to men. One could only assume their purpose is to push that narrative even further.

None of what I said can be confirmed, as it all goes under the table. However, you'll find a general consensus among Sudanese youth that men in government are using token women against women.

A quota won't be very effective when the oppression mechanism takes it into account. Developing countries are more at risk of this as they are more liable to have their institutions manipulated. To have a representative democracy you have to have representation on top of a democracy. Rushing into representation (in some cases) can push the entire system from patriarchy to soft patriarchy.

A quota system is only necessary to initially break the norm that states "women shouldn't hold positions in government", and can only be applied when there's a bed of democracy that prevents it from being exploited.

Sangeet Gopal Kayastha

1. What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

a)  I would like to give an example of my own country Nepal. It might not be a very good example but in terms of many other countries, this can help to start some changes.

- In Nepal, there is a compulsory provision of having at least 33% women in local government or various user groups. If there is ' water user group', community forest user group the number of women should always be at least 33 %. 

- Local government structures such as local muncilipaty , local communities of local government, the women number should be 33% in the decision making lavel. This do not count for the 50-50 envisioned but this is a good example from Nepal.

- This can start implementing in other countries as well.

b) For the long term vision of improving gender equality, the education and health services to all women and girls are most. one of the causes of having no gender-equal society is also because of a lack of education or number of school dropouts in many communities. If we envision of ideal society after some decade or after some years, the education and equal education with knowledge of gender education is the must.

2. How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/ more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

-  The quota is always not a good idea but I think for many countries the quota in the decision-making body is the must. This has to go hand in hand with the local policy.

- The next is to ensure transparency in decision making in all level. This will ensure the decision making will be in the favour of all gender and people from all background. 


In Jordan, the quota has a vital role to ensure women representation in the decision making positions, especially in the parliament. it is a positive step to contribute to change the stereotype of women in such countries, in other words, the existence of women in the decision making positions was not acceptable "socially" due to the norms and the traditions. So the quota helped us to dive in and change the structure of the community's culture.
e.g In 1989, women were allowed to be candidate in the Parliament for the first time, but only one woman stood as a candidate and she didn't win.
After the adoption of the quota in 2003, many Jordanian women stood as candidates but a few were supported by their families because still the idea was not totally accepted. The experience of those women who stood as candidates and MPs has encouraged other women and helped to eliminate the stereotypical portrayals of women in the Jordanian society. 
Lastly, the last elections in 2016, 20 women won, 5 of them won by competitive seats not by the quota.



I am Manal from Arab Women Organisation of Jordan-AWO

I think that the main important topic we would like to address is : Local governance – capacity building of women to participate in local governance.  

As one of AWO’s objectives is to promote democratization from a feminist perspective and increase women leaders in decision-making positions at the national and local levels by:

- Demanding an increase in the percentage of the woman quota seats .

-Encouraging women as voters to engage in participation in parliamentary and local elections (municipalities and decentralization).

- Involving women candidates in capacity building efforts.

-Integrate women in the political life by empowering them politically, culturally and socially.

With the aim of achieving legal changes for women's rights and gender equality we encourage AWO played a vital role in supporting women candidates and women in the decision makers through the capacity building activities. Especially in the last two years which had witnessed three types of elections:

  • The Parliament.
  • The Municipal Councils.
  • The Decentralization Councils.

In fact, Jordan can be considered a success story in reaching women in the rural areas to the decision making positions  due to the parliament quota giving one seat to each governorate and each district, and a 25% to the Municipality Councils, 20% for the Local Councils and 10% for the Decentralization Councils. Thus, women political participation and reaching decision making positions is highly encouraged. The percentage of women's representation in Municipal Councils: 38% and 32% in the Local Councils in the last election in 2017. The elections’ results indicated that the number of women who won in the elections was higher than in the last elections because the proved themselves to be good service providers in their cities.. These results are considered as unprecedented achievement for political empowerment of Jordanian women in any previous elections. Especially the results of women who won competitive seats, demonstrating women increasing level of political activism and influence throughout the country.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

These are really great results, thank you for sharing them, Manal

Aswat Nissa

Greetings to you all!  As part of this very important forum, Aswat Nissa, a Tunisian local NGO advocating for gender sensitive public policies for over 7 years, would like to hold an event with young women municipal officials.

Through our 7 years of experience we’ve worked on building the capacities of 200 women who are active within their political parties on a regional, local and national level. Our goal is to enable those women to assume elected office so they become true change makers and gender equality activists within their municipalities and political parties. Fifteen of the women with whom we worked are now municipal officials. It could be very interesting to hear more about their experiences within their municipalities and their role in the integration of the gender approach in the management of local affairs. We could shed the light on to the obstacles they face as women in their municipalities. We have already interviewed several of them and they have told us about different challenges such as the lack of funding, corruption and generation gap. This forum could be a great platform for them to tackle those obstacles in details and to share their experiences with women from different areas of the world. It could be an eye opener for several of them and help them achieve their goal.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Thank you Aswat, this is a very interesting example! Would like to hear more about the way the capacity building of the young officials was done. 

Waajid Hussein

Hi all,

My views on the above subtitle is as follows:

It’s nothing new that women in politics throughout the entire world are underrepresented. In addition to other factors, this phenomenon is often explained with party affiliation or the election system. The problem with the public, media and some professional institutions are that only elected politicians are observed and the nomination perspective is spared. But the step from being nominated to being elected is very important because it is at that point when women must overcome the barriers within the different parties, which, in some, are often higher than in others. That’s why focus on the nomination perspective can partly explain the under-representation of women in the various parties.

Very often, studies come to the result that the differences between female and male politicians are less distinct than expected and that those factors cannot generally explain the under-representation of women in politics. In order to understand the continued under-representation of women, it is important to look earlier in the recruitment process

The first step into a political career is to become a member of a political party. If someone is interested in getting elected, he or she must go from being ‘eligible’, to being selected as generally ‘potential as candidate. They decide if, how many, and on which placements they nominate women. Whereby it is important to mention that also rules of the political system, the party organization and the election system determine how much influence the party leadership, the party members and the voters have. Finally, if one is successful, he or she will then become a ‘member of parliament’. 

Therefore, if today there is less women in local government, this is because of nomination perspective. WE MUST PUT AN END. The solution is simple! Go through a professional process of meritocracy, if a female candidate possess better qualifications then she has to be recruited or selected with transparency.

For the issue of sustainability, if today developing countries are experiencing a boom or under-developed countries are facing problems, then one among the issues is again nomination of an ineligible candidate for a position. I always ponder over this, how can an expert in accounting becomes a Minister of education? He should rather be more connected to Ministry of Finance or economy. Studies have found that women are nominated as Ministry of Social, Ministry of Art and culture etc.. What i am trying to say  that fewer women in politics are given the chance to become Minister in some specific field such as Economy or finance.

I just hope that my views are clear!

Samar Tageldin

Hello all,

I would just like to address 3 points regarding the effectiveness of women holding leading positions and how that would positively alter equitable services distribution:

1) The “mere”presence of a woman at a governing or decision making position is extremely vital to further hinder the idea of gender roles and will consequently hinder gender stereotypes, deeming them futile at a given point.

2) As an 18 year old Sudanese women’s rights activist, I believe that the engagement of young women is equally important. In order to collectively attain our goal, an individual who relates, communicates and understands the youth’s needs must contribute greatly and have a seat on the table. Inter generational dialogue is a mutually needed aspect when it comes to gender equality.

3) Marginalized groups’ direct participation in decision making should be more shed light to and taken into account. Those groups efforts and ideas would be valuable in selecting the correct approaches and will greatly assist in undergoing and planning programs in a more pragmatic and effectual manner.

Chibuzor Pearl Alaegbu

Hello Sacha,

In my submission earlier, I had talked about women wings of our traditional chiefdoms as good tools to improve gender equality in service provisions. A good instance is among the Igbos in Southeastern Nigeria. Every community, even though headed by men does have the women association. These associations have thrived over time and what happens is that they adopt a project for the year could be water project or classroom block construction in the community schools and even grading of roads according to their economic strength. They levy themselves certain fees and in August of every year, in what is popularly called ‘August meeting’, these women converge from anywhere they are in the country and even in the Diaspora to their home communities in to carry out the proposed project(s).

The challenge here is that despite these immense contributions, the women are still given little chances in the decision making body of their communities and even local councils since they are not recognized as legal entities or seen as political organizations or pressure groups. So as I have suggested earlier, we can advocate for legal backings and government support to these women institutions to make them stronger, grant them unlimited access to tools of governance by way of capacity-building thereby opening them up to larger opportunities in governance.

 In Nigeria, the traditional king, chief or emir as the case may be and his cabinet members (made up of men only) are recognized by the government and are often consulted on issues concerning the communities they preside over, we need to start asking for the same form of government recognition for these women associations, if this happens, it will embolden the women and place them at the centre to demand for equal opportunities both in seeking political power and in service provision.le

On the role of CSOs and feminists, they (should I say we haha) can pursue a bill for legalizing and government support to these women groups starting with the local councils and state, CSOs can be building blocks for the information sharing network I suggested earlier, this will help get the peculiarities of each of these communities for effective management of their challenges. They can also organize capacity building campaigns and programs for the affected demography.


Please can one help me comprehend this.

What is the issues here?

What is the source of the problem?

Who are the players?

Who should benefit at the end of the day?

i l am convinced that any strategy of view point should not create men as barriers. The moment we do or assume that men are enermies even all our efforts goes down. strategies should also include men in all and their voice/s need to be heard saying something.  Nothing for men without women. Nothing for woman without men.

Tamah Shamangende

Hai Oliver,

In my view, I think men are not left out here, all what is said  is we need more women to be recognized in decision making in governance, international and at the community level.


Many challenges remain, particularly in terms of the inclusion of women in local government and society in Jordan: Culture: In the Jordanian society, women is overshadowed by male “. The scholar Linton defined culture as "the collection of behaviour that human beings learn in a society, transferred from the adults to the young", therefore, the local political system continues to marginalize women. Economic Participation Rate: Jordanian women are poorly represented in economic participation, as the ratio is 17.7%. Many women are expected to fulfil traditional gender roles as housewives and care-givers. They are frequently unable to leave their provinces and are restricted to agricultural and educational posts at most. Women also face other structural and societal obstacles. Lack of freedom of movement (especially transportation), financial independence, work opportunities, and networking capacities, and women do not trust the other women's ability, so they do not support each other in many fields, including the political participation. Weak networking with international organizations that support women in all fields.
Women are expected to appear on the political scene in Jordan, where the law guarantees their participation in legislative elections, municipal councils and governorates. Moreover, they obtained the gender quota that imposed by the government. Women in Jordan are recommended to support each other to voice their voices through all the platforms, so that she can become the cornerstone of development at the local level. Women can change the community, a way of thinking culture through educating their children.
Women: Educated, healthy, but economically marginalized
With more than 10% of total domestic output spent on health and education. Both males and females benefited from these policies and improved their quality of life. Jordan also has closed the gender gap in primary and secondary school enrollment rates, and the majority of women have enrolled in higher education levels. However, human development gains are not matched by increased economic participation of women.
This is a sign that the economic participation of women is 17.7%, which is lower than the 25% average for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite the Government's efforts to strengthen the role of women in society and the economy, progress in women's economic participation remains small and substandard. The World Bank's 2012 Report entitled "Economic Participation, Accessibility and Access to Justice in Jordan" underscored the fact that in order to promote employment of women, it is necessary to reduce the real and perceived "additional cost" of woman employment compared to the man. The majority of women in Jordan are largely employed in the public sector and this can be partly explained by the wage gap and the monetary and non-monetary incentives. Women's representation is still weak in economic participation. According to the 2018 report of the World Bank, women should look at private businesses away from the public sector and network with sources of funding, support organizations and women's donors to set up a free-trade platform. Women must take the lead in developing an urgent plan of action in cooperation with international institutions and organizations to work to reduce failures and support women in all their segments.
International organisations mandated to support of women, are sometimes required of proper planning.


Dear All,

I have been following some of the discussion above, particularly related to womens participation in public office, where some of you had stressed why 30%  and why not 50%, in fact I woudl also go ahaed andf ask why not 70%, thie issue really is not just about these percentages, but how can we help women leaders to play thier role as elected reperesnetatives in more effectivbe and efficinet manager with all the nessary capacities and supports. Lets us take the case of Nepal, by constitutional provision in Nepal the local governments have made sure women's participation in elected public office be not less then  33% , and to this effect almost 95% of the elected deputy Mayors are women, and also there are almost 12,000 + women elected as members of the local governemnts, but the challenge today is that because of the patriarchal society even after almost two years these elected representatives and official are unabel toi dischange thier constitutionally manadated duty to citizens. Hence it is important that there need to be a more concerted effort to make sure that these elected officails are provide with nessary support that is required to build thier confidence and to ensure that there are institutional support basis of long term in nature, that wilkl providew these required support to help these elected women official to dischnage thier duties with outr any intemiodation and with confidence. Therefore I strongly recomend that "Capacity Development" be part of this whole discussion as these capacity does not happen over night and will need substantial investments wioth long horizon.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Dear all, thank you for all these excellent inputs also this last week. 

The sharing of experience of what works well and how to improve quota systems has been great. Thank you Anil for your input from Nepal. Why not 70% indeed. 

There area a number of new issues to retain in my view:

- this is about long term and substantial efforts and investments in gender equality

- there are other barriers which need to be addressed such as lack of freedom of movement (especially transportation) unpaid care work, education etc.  

- There is a need to build capacity of women as voters as well

- Traditional governance structures are often male, but have women 'wings' who can be promoted to become recognised at the same level as traditional chiefs

- Engagement of young women is equally important, I agree with our 18 yr old contributor from Sudan who says that inter-generational dialogue is needed for gender equality. She also says about quota that even when in the beginning there might be criticism about token women, it is good to have women visible in decision making positions to change gender stereotypes.

- Quota alone is not enough, we also need more women in key positions which they are often not able to attain, the traditional men offices/ministries: Ministers of Economy or finance

- Capacity building of young women municipal officials on gender equality to become change makers has shown to be very successful in Tunesia.

- Women from Civil Society who have obtained the capacity to lead in specific areas such as water or energy,"gained visibility, recognition and respect from community members". Any new installation of solar panels has to be discussed with this group of 'energy women leaders'.

These are all key themes for the Tunis Forum on Gender Equality. 

Thank you all for your inputs

Frances Guy Moderator

Thank you Sascha, thank you all contributors for this healthy discussion.  Our challenge now is to turn these ideas into issues that can form the basis of debate at Tunis and to identify participants and speakers who can inspire us to explore these ideas further and make recommendations for future action.   looking at all the contributions we have some emerging themes.  Can others help me turn these into useful sessions that explore the topics further?    For example 

-   Role of quotas in local govt – what works? what types of quotas can make a difference?  lists, zips, good examples, horizontal and vertical     lists.  (four examples from different countries that could be compared and contrasted for effect - from this discussion we have Sierra Leone, Tunis, Montenegro - what others are there that might be added?)

-   Helping women into politics.  Different types of capacity building.  explore what is most useful.   Complemented by a discussion on supporting women in local government with specific projects to help them gain visibility and credibility with the local population – supporting specific projects, 

-    Tackling masculinities in local administration – how to overcome dominant cultures – can women be supported in local government to overcome this?  can we better address the expectations of all by assessing the needs of men and women to overcome bias?  what is good practice in this area?   How do we get women into non-traditional positions, whether at a tribal level or as Ministers of Defence, Interior, Finance etc? 

-   Paths into politics? what is the Role of civic education ?  is teaching about politics a way to encouraging young people into politics - what else works?    Alternative forms of organisation at a local level – routes into politics, role of cooperatives, local community organisations such as shack dwellers?  are these the new politics?

-   Women making a difference.   Sharing good practice of women in local government;  eg prizes on anti-corruption; US cities for CEDAW (this came out in one of the other discussion forums but it seems to me that it would be a good idea to add it to our discussion - can more action be taken at a local level to implement CEDAW?  can we bring these good examples to Tunis to discuss further and learn from each other?) 

I think there is also a theme in the discussion about how to break into political parties but it might need a bit more exploration than has been given so far. 

Please do add your thoughts and ideas on who would be good participants or indicate if you would be willing to help organise a discussion/round table or panel on these topics.    thanks 

Laurine Peyronnet

Thank you very much for the comprehensive summary. 

I would like to propose an additional them/subject : 

- What is a gender sensitive city and how do we build one ?

I am wondering if there is any good practices both on methodoly and on result. 

Sylvia Briggs


I'd be willing to help organise a discussion /roundtable on women breaking into political parties;

- The import  of space for women in political parties' list without constitutional or legislative imperative;

- How political parties can be held accountable for non-compliance,

Sylvia Briggs

[~12841] I'd suggest that we develop a virtual programme beyond this pre e-consultation for emboldened and rich global conversations and critical discussions around Gender Equality for Local Governance Transformation   (during and post Tunis Forum on Gender Equality ) to connect people across countries as well as link people from grassroots to global levels, using digital media tools such as:


Live Streaming 

Virtual side events

Audience Interaction Tools (eg. Sli.do)

Social media channels  (Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram, etc.) 

Hashtags,  etc.

Frances Guy Moderator

[~55705]   thanks Laurinne.  this is a great suggestion.   we may need to get back to you directly to work out the shape that such a discussion might take but we will try and integrate this idea!  thank you

Frances Guy Moderator

[~54878] thanks Sylvia that is very helpful.  look forward to discussing it a bit more..  love the ideas for the future too.  let's start something in Tunis that we can carry forward. 

Tamah Shamangende


Just to add on the issue of CEDAW.African counties that are signatories to convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women must adhere to its provision to protect women against violence but also take practical steps that women especially young women are given opportunities to participate in leadership so as to explore their potential. In addition, African countries that have signed the African Union Protocol must domesticate it's provision in their constitutions so that they become justiciable.

Bacha Kebede Debela

The progression of women in politics and managerial positions, in the world, in general, is positive.  For example, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%) in Sub-Saharan African countries increased from 12 %  (in 2000) to 24 %  (in 2017) (https://data.worldbank.org/region/sub-saharan-africa).  During the same period,   the proportion of seats held by women in the Ethiopian national parliaments is increased from 8% (in 2000) to 39 % (in 2017); a remarkable quantitative increase (https://data.worldbank.org/region/sub-saharan-africa). The recent decision of the Ethiopian government in appointing women in the executive branch of government is considerable.   Following the appointment of the new Prime Minister (PM), PM Abiy Ahmed, on April 2, 2018, Ethiopian has maintained gender parity in ministerial positions; women and men hold equal positions (ten ministerial positions each). Interestingly, for the first time women are appointed to key ministerial positions such as Ministry of Defence and Ethiopia has appointed women President- President Sahilework Zewde- as the head of state. The number of women mayors has also increased.

In general, the increase of women in political and managerial positions is partly attributed to the legal frameworks and the enforcement thereof (Brenner et al, 1989[1]).  In the context of today’s Ethiopia, several ongoing politico- administrative reforms both at federal, regional and local levels have appeared to significantly contribute for such quantitative breakthrough. However, it should be noted that the number of women in politics and managerial positions significantly vary among nations which could be explained by politico- administrative traditions. Shreds of evidence show the number of women in politics and managerial positions does not correlate with the level of national development and their share of total employment (Jaquette, 2001[2]; Wirth, 2001[3]).

It means that women experience what is called the “glass ceiling” and “glass wall” obstacles (Wirth, 2001). Notwithstanding some exceptions including a recent example from Ethiopia, affirmative may not apply to key positions and the quota system may not work as well, particularly when the top positions are dominated by men. Research points out, that despite their professional qualification and motivation, even those women who are able to manage to hold political and managerial jobs, are restricted to less strategic positions, to positions normally considered to be suitable for women (Wirth, 2001; UN, 1991[4]; UN, 2000[5]). This may hold true even in  occupations dominated by women.  Worse is that where the rate of pay is the same, women may earn less than men due to different salary packages. Worst, due to socio-cultural factors, women in politics and managerial positions could experience extraordinary pressure from men as well as women (Wirth, 2001). This could be the case, especially in masculine and hierarchical societies. In such societies, the judiciary (including women judges), the political parties and the CSOs are more likely to follow the logic of appropriateness than the logic of consequences; they are probably more sexist and view victims of gender inequality as their faults (Rhode in Smith, 1992[6]). Therefore, legal and policy reform is necessary but not sufficient. The law in motion and the law in action is not necessarily the same.  It should be also noted that similar legal frameworks and reforms produce different results in different contexts.   Increasing the number of women in politics and managerial positions, including through quota system, is also necessary but insufficient as well. What you see is not the same as what you actually get, counting heads and counting heads plus hearts are different.

We need to understand what has actually happened to women in politics and managerial positions. Therefore, much attention should be given to power relations and socio-cultural factors and careful and detail analysis thereof.  It also worth to note that gender-sensitive reforms should embrace the needs and expectations of all actors and need to go beyond talks and decisions, they should be implemented and produce positive outputs and outcomes.  To this end, actors (both women and men, international, national and local, government, CSOs, private sectors as well as the general society) should be committed to deflect the deep-rooted socio-structural gender inequities and compensate the loss due to past and existing discriminations. There is also a need for comparative research.  Such research should take into account historical and sociological factors. Also, it would be curial to study the competencies of successful (wo)men in politics and managerial positions and how they were/are able to balance public and private values. It means that we need to go beyond enhancing the academic qualification of women. Perhaps also,  notwithstanding the limitations, which is also common in other research approaches, a comparative experimental PA research approach which combines public administration and behavioural (psychology)-the Behavioural Public Administration- (particularly natural field experiments type) can provide useful insights to equilibrate power relations and address socio-cultural and structural inequalities in public administration and improve citizen- other actors interactions, allowing  to  improve the situations  of women in politics and managerial jobs particularly at local government level.   Scholars argue for the need  to fostering the behavioral public administration and preferably joint research between public administration and psychologists scholars (see for example Olsen et al., 2018[7]; Grimmelikhuijsen et al., 2017[8]).

[1] Brenner, O. C., Tomkiewicz, J., & Schein, V. E. (1989). The relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics revisited. Academy of management journal32(3), 662-669.

[2] Jaquette, J. (2001). Women in Power form Tokenism to Critical Mass. Comparative Politics, annual edition, 102-113 . Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.

[3] Wirth, L.  (2001). Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women in Management.

Geneva: International Labor Office.

[4] UN  (1991). Women in Decision Making: Case Study on Greece. New York.

[5] UN (2000). The World’s Women 2000: Trends and Statistics. New York.

[6] Smith, P. (1992). Discrimination and disadvantage in feminist legal theory: A review of Ddeborah Rhode'sJustice and Gender. Law and Philosophy11(4), 431-447.

[7] Olsen, A. L., Tummers, L., Grimmelikhuijsen, S., & Jilke, S. (2018). Behavioral Public Administration: Connecting Psychology with European Public Administration Research. In The Palgrave Handbook of Public Administration and Management in Europe (pp. 1121-1133). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

[8] Grimmelikhuijsen, S., Jilke, S., Olsen, A. L., & Tummers, L. (2017). Behavioral public administration: Combining insights from public administration and psychology. Public Administration Review77(1), 45-56.

Frances Guy Moderator

Dear Bacha, this is a very important contribution to the debate and can really help us form a session at Tunis.   The notions of `'appropriateness" and the proposal to explore the needs and expectations of all actors are very important.   would you be willing to help put together a panel or other event at Tunis on this?  

Bacha Kebede Debela

 Dear Frances Guy 

Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to contribute. I hope I will have time to do this.



Marie Yanique Amboise

Dans beaucoup de pays, la loi electorale fait injonction d'un quota de femmes aux postes electifs.

Pourtant, il y a plein de candidates malheureuses aux elections. Quelles en sont les causes quand on sait que 52% des electeurs, dans certains pays, sont des femmes? Pourquoi les femmes ne votent-elles pas pour les femmes. Un approfondissement de la question s'avere necessaire.

A mon humble avis, les femmes ne croient pas en la capacite des femmes par prejuge (stereotype) certes mais surtout parce que les femmes leaders n'inspirent pas confiance.

C'est a elles (les femmes leaders) de creer ce climat de confiance par leur integrite, leur honnetete. Elles doivent se montrer plus enclines  a partager le pouvoir au sein meme de leurs organisations (ne pas etre des perpetuelles dirigeantes sans jamais laisser de la place aux autres); penser aux interets des autres femmes plutot que les leurs. Ne pas etre des femmes-hommes quand elles accedent aux postes eleves. Voila ce qu'il faut pour que les femmes soient enthousiastes a placer une autre femme a la tete des institutions.

La discussion devra donc s'engager autour des attitudes autant que sur les competences, attitudes telles l'integrite, l'honnetete. 


What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

  • We must begin to respect and build on community generated data.  Organized groups of communities  especially women groups have the ability to help the development world by using their own lived experiences to collect , analyze, share  and use data for advocacy. We all know that lack of data was a major reason why many MDGs did not meet their targets, a lesson  we have to take into consideration in  the implementation of SDGs. 
  • Local leaders and local women & community communities need to create flexible and predictable consultation processes. Feedback mechanisms  and public participation processes with communities should stop being  adhoc and be more resourced.
  • In countries  like Kenya and other developing states  where Devolution and decentralization is at the helm of political agenda,  ensuring that local women are in as many decision making levels including local boards and committee.  
  • There has been disproportionate investment focused to  gender equality legal and policy frameworks without  adequate resources to implement the existing good ones and keep  track of the progress. The shifts to change this paradigm is needed.

How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/ more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

Women  bring with them immense lived experiences which is valuable in  appropriate allocation of  resources .  They have very detailed information of individual neighbors, households and community needs that is valuable in informing decisions on  investing in needs that are of highest priority

Adequate resources need to be directed to the effective organizing of women from the local, national to  global spaces so that they  can directly  and effectively contribute to ending poverty and closing gender equality gaps.  It is great to witness new energies in strengthening women movement. This is good. But unfortunately the process is barely inclusive of diverse  grassroots or local women groups. Rather, it is  led by  development institutions and global organizations that wield power and resources.  

Women who occupy decision making in local government need to have strategic alliances and partnership with groups of women in local communities aimed at strengthening advocacy for a gender balanced  public service

Sylvia Briggs
  • What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) confers equality of its citizens irrespective of ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion and political opinions [Sec 15 (2) 42 (1)].

Although Nigerian women constitute about a half of the population of over 140 million, with registered voter population of about 70 million, Nigerian women remain marginalised when measured by social, economic and human development indicators (INEC 2013 pg. 18)

The Local Government system by democratically elected Local Government Councils is guaranteed under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, Section 7. Based on this section, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides for the functions of a Local Government Council under its Fourth Schedule. According to the Fourth Schedule 1 of the Amended 1999 Constitution, the main functions of the local government are as follows (among others):

  1. The consideration and the making of recommendations to a State Commission on economic planning or any similar body on:
  1. The economic development of the State, particularly in so far as the areas of authority of the council and of the State are affected;
  2. Proposals made by the said Commission or body;
  1. Collection of rates, radio or television licenses;
  2. Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute;
  3. Establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences;
  4. Naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses;
  5. Provision and maintenance of public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal.

In tackling the issue of improved gender equality in service provision at the Local Government level, Local Government must be viewed as a critical component of integrated system of Governance.

A higher percentage of people in Nigeria live at the grassroots and women account for a higher proportion. Therefore, the local government is expected to touch their lives in terms of development programmes targeted at bringing about transformation at their locality. This is however, very difficult to achieve because the contemporary government at the local level is extremely discouraging for women due to patriarchal ethos, gender biases and accumulation of historical injustice undermining gender equality in service delivery; gender oppression and inequality remain significant. Universal access or equal access to basic services require that women be delinked from this marginalized status.

The inclusion of the voices of girls and young women in all decision-making spaces is essential to overcoming the historical accumulated structural barriers that limit their effective participation in service provision. Right-based participation modalities that provide protected space for critical segments of the society (particularly women) should be ensured.

Investing in gender-responsive infrastructure, social protection programmes, care services, to reduce and redistribute women and girls’ disproportionate burden of unpaid work must be a priority.

Government should create formal opportunities for the most marginalised groups of women and the women most affected by policies and programmes under consideration to have a say in the development process.

Local government should invest in the collection of gender data because data disaggregated by sex, age, location, ethnicity, migration status, etc. becomes information about who is being left behind and is crucial for effective planning and improved equity for service provision.

Investing in efforts to close the massive gender data gap is essential for effective budgeting and policy making.

Bringing in gender perspective gives a more concrete understanding of the context in which gender inequality exists in service provision at the local government level so as to proffer solutions that have the capacity to dismantle the barrier that impedes access to equitable service delivery.

Sylvia Briggs
  • How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

The potential transformative role of women participating in local space/local government leading to sustainable cities/more equitable resource distribution cannot be overemphasized. This is predicated on the fact that local politics impacts directly on the lives of women, as they carry disproportionate responsibility for social reproduction. The goods and services provided by local government have a direct bearing on their lives. If basic services such as water or electricity are absent, it is often women and children that feel the daily burden. Women, cast as caregivers and guardians of household nutrition and health, are the main users of basic municipal services. Their input into municipal decision-making is therefore critical. Gender activists have argued that women’s participation in local government is likely to lead to more efficient and effective delivery of services, which will have a positive impact on the democratic system as a whole. Women’s understanding of the needs of households can be translated into knowledge for local planners and delivery agencies, leading to a virtuous circle of gender-sensitive policies and increased and better valued participation of women (UNIFEM, 1999).

Women spend more of their time in the neighbourhood than men, usually being responsible for the household, care taking tasks and the community management. They have a vested interest in safe water, sewerage, sanitation, refuse services, fuel and health services. Thus, the conditions in which essential services are delivered are important questions for women. For example, as the main users of water, women are well qualified to advise on the choice of pumps where to run the waterlines and to place the standpipes, so as to avoid basic design flaws disadvantaging women and children. Women also take responsibility for the maintenance of such services, for example cleaning and sweeping around community water pumps and standpipes, collecting contributions, and organising for repair of equipment (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements – UNCHS, 1999).

In general, women and men perform different tasks and live in different economic and social conditions. Therefore, they have separate political interests. Being the ones primarily responsible for reproductive activities, women have a particular interest in the allocation of local resources and services, such as water, fuel, electricity, sanitation, housing, public safety, and health services. Men politicians normally do not automatically represent women’s interests. Women’s active participation in decision making is essential in order to ensure that women can promote and defend their specific needs and interests. They can be prime actors in promoting gender sensitive governance that addresses the interests of both women and men and enhances access to and control over local resources for both (UNDP, 2000). A focus on gender differences is of particular importance with regard to sanitation initiatives, and gender-balanced approaches should be encouraged in plans and structures for implementation. Simple measures, such as providing schools with water and latrines, and promoting hygiene education in the classroom, can enable girls to get an education, especially after they reach puberty, and reduce health-related risks for all (UNESCAP, 2001)

These experiences nested with their technical expertise as professionals and technocrats in diverse fields will lead to sustainable cities/more equitable resource distribution should they (women) be significantly included in the local government process. This calls for engendered local governance in which men and women are given space to work together to unleash their distinct knowledge, experience and potential that would lead to sustainable cities/more equitable resource distribution, etc.

This in turn will require a political will to systemize and domesticate gender equity instruments such as 35% Affirmative Action by the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010).

Frances Guy Moderator

dear all, thanks for these very interesting contributions which truly add to the debate.  At this stage though we are really trying to focus down on some themes for round tables and discussions that we can hold at Tunis.  It would be really helpful if you could comment on the themes at the top of this discussion forum and add potential speakers/ ideas and thoughts on how we can make any contributions more innovative.    the davos style format is beginning to get tired.  Sharing experiences is good.  can we do it in a more innovative way?   thanks 

Prabha Khosla

Hello Frances, I feel it is really important to have a table/in-depth conversation about how to create institutional change for women's rights and gender equality at the local level. What will it take to truly make local governments inclusive. Thanks.

Prabha Khosla

Another area of focus could be a conversation about how can we support and enable local governments to collect dis-aggregated data, i.e. dis-aggregatred by sex, age, ability/disability, location, ethnicity, race, etc...whatever variables are most appropriate and relevant for the town/city and country in question. We need this data to be able to assess if indeed the policies, programmes and budgets are enabling equalities or not. This would also help us to see if we are reaching the targets of the SDGs or not. While I say this, I know that many local governments have limited resources and capacity to do this. But we need to put dis-aggregated data collection and use on the agenda. Thanks.

Frances Guy Moderator

[~55369] thanks Prabha.. i agree this is key.  

Saripalli Suryanarayana

Madam Frances,it is my view.Extending it self beyond many boundaries The "DAVOS" has left behind the "IPR",and riding on with the people who feel they can expolit the "IPR' for business.

Business refers business is the theame.You may get suggestions-many will include all-DATA,its protection,the need for having individual bank accounts,civil rights,women property rights,Public health,women and child health,Non communable disease,NTD,and many such prevelent in Maleria bound areas.

All carry that services,material,money.But containg money Laundering by any NGO is our duty,and so the ways.

You may also do more webnair/on line platform and get as many as to participate.The views of Governments are well known,and so many NGO,who are still with the age old practices.

DATA is to find new ways-please you can have an IPR of each one contributing here.India is doing some what better in these fields since last 3 -4 years.

Zouga Kouna Alain Florentin

He for she: une stratégie d'ONUFEMMES indispensable équitable, mais à revoir

Depuis la création de l'humanité, la femme a toujours été considérée comme celle là qui donne la vie. Malgré cette mission divine reconnue à la femme et dont le rôle est indispensable pour la survie de l'humanité, elle a été très vite étiquetée et donc reléguer si non confinée à jouer les seconds rôles. A ce propos en parlant du rôle de la femme  le Führer Allemand Adolphe Hitler lui en attribuait trois  à savoir: Kinder, Kirche, Küche c'est-à-dire les enfants, l'église et la cuisine. Ainsi l'évolution du monde ayant amené de nouvelles postures épistémiques et de nouvelles schèmes dans le moi, de nouveaux mouvements ont commencé à naître surtout le courant féministe, avec pour intention de recadrer la redistribution des rôles dans la société, mais surtout de de revendiquer des rôles aux femmes qui ont tendance à débarrasser des hommes d'un certain pouvoir. D'où les multiples réticences rencontrées. La mise sur pied d'un organisme intergouvernementale  par les Etats membres de l'Organisation des Nations Unies destiné aux problématiques du genre a été un élément important dans la redistribution des cartes et le repositionnement du rôle de la femme dans la géopolitique mondiale. a cet effet, cette organisation a multiplié des stratégies afin de remplir son rôle institutionnel,  mais à ce jour certaines de ces stratégies semblent avoir un effet mitigé sur les comportements humain sensés agir sur c'est le cas de la campagne He for She dont la philosophie est d'associer les hommes à l'épanouissement de la gente feminine, toutefois, cette stratégie a péché en ne pensant qu'au top management(officiels) tout en négligeant le bas. d'où l'interrogation suivante la stratégie He for She porte t-elle des fruits? Si non quels sont les défis auxquels cette dernière fait face?

Répondre par l'affirmative  semble évident.

I-Stratégie He for she: Stratégie de rupture d'usufruit

Cette stratégie d'ONUFEMMES dans un pays comme le Cameroun où je l'ai suivi et observé avec acuité, l'on est obligé de reconnaitre que le fait pour cette organisation d'avoir associé les hommes, dans l'émancipation de la femme a port de fruits, surtout que dans cette logique, les hommes se sentent interpellés à plus d'un titre. le combat pour l'égalité des sexes,n'est plus qu'une affaire des femmes, mais davantage celles des individus de sexe masculin.

A cette aune, les hommes sont obligés d'intégrer les femmes dans la prise de décision. quoique l'on note dans le cadre du Cameroun , plusieurs avancées à la suite de cette campagne, le nombre de femmes a par exemple augmenté à l'Assemblée nationale, au Sénat et dans pouvoirs postes de prise de décision et de plus en plus les femmes s'intéressent aux affaires, de la cité, force est tout de même de reconnaître une timidité dans l'application de la loi et au comportement phallocrate de la société camerounaise .

II- He for She: une stratégie à demi teinte

si l'on est obligé de reconnaître que cette stratégie a gagné de bons points et continuera certainement d'engranger davantage, un constat se dégage tout de même, la stratégie a péché en privilégiant  les officiels, tout en mettant en berne les jeunes et les moins jeunes. S'il est vrai que les officiels sont au pouvoir et dès lors, ont plus de pouvoir de faire bouger les lignes, il faut tout de même reconnaître que l'inégalité des sexes est un construit social, voire sociétal, l'homme étant le fruit de son environnement et de sa société, il ne sera pas superflu par exemple dans les zones rurales de voir les femmes continuer à subir des pressions de toutes sortes de la part des mâles. Dans les établissements scolaires, les femmes continuent à être des victimes de cette phallocratie à outrance.

La stratégie a donc péché par son manque de clairvoyance et de la non prise en compte des cibles jeunes. Car les jeunes de maintenant seront les dirigeants de demain et si ils ne sont pas mis à l'école du genre actuellement, il sera  très difficile de cerner le bienfondé de la redistribution équitable des rôles dans la société.

En définitive, il parait intéressant de revoir cette stratégie de He For She en mettant un accent particulier sur les cibles jeunes et le monde d'en bas. si le changement ne vient pas par le bas, il pourrait venir du bas.

Mariel Lourdes Escartín Ríos

Hola ,Mariel Escartín de Fundación Yo Soy Los Elementos desde Panamá.

Respuestas a las preguntas del tema agrego lo siguiente.

La mala calidad del agua y el saneamiento inadecuado repercuten en la seguridad alimentaria y los medios de subsistencia. La población mundial tiene acceso a fuentes de agua potable mejoradas. Para mejorar el acceso de agua apta para el consumo  el saneamiento y la gestión racional de los ecosistemas de agua dulce entre las comunidades locales .

Los gobiernos deben rendir cuentas , invertir en investigaciones y desarrollo de los recursos hídricos promoviendo la inclusión de las mujeres en la gobernanza de los recursos hídricos .

Concientizar sobre estos temas y convertirlos en medida concretas producirá resultados ventajosos para todos llevando una mayor sostenibilidad e integridad de los sistemas humanos y ecológicos .

Colaborar en campañas DEL DIA MUNDIAL DEL AGUA Y DIA MUNDIAL DEL RETRETE , proporciona información e inspiración para adoptar medidas sobre cuestiones de higiene .

Energía asequible y no contaminante . La Energía es el factor que contribuye principalmente  al cambio climático .

Se invertiría en recursos energéticos renovables adoptando tecnologías e infraestructuras de Energía no contaminante .

Las localidades pueden mantener y proteger los ecosistemas para utilizar y desarrollar fuentes hidroeléctricas de Energía y Bioenergía .

Todos podemos ahorrar electricidad con campañas televisivas  como desconectando los aparatos en una regleta o apagandolos completo cuando no se usan . Podemos ir en bicicleta , caminar para reducir las emisiones de carbono .

El cambio climático afecta a todas las personas especialmente a los pobres y vulnerables  como mujeres , niños y ancianos .

Sociedad civil , gobiernos y las empresas deben colaborar en medidas en la innovación e inversiones a largo plazo en eficiencia enérgetica y en desarrollo con bajas emisiones de carbono .

La presencia de mujeres en el gobierno local  debe promover y estimular la economía

de la ciudad, permiten superar niveles de pobreza. Con capacitaciones a los habitantes

de trabajos técnicos.

Componenetes ecológicos , con una satisfactoria calidad de vida de los habitantes de manera armoniosa y respetuosa con el ambiente. Tenemos campañas de recolección de basura y reutilizarla en escuelas , universidades , etc.

Oportunidades adicionales de enriquecimiento espiritual , meditaciones , orar , yoga , etc.

Las Estrategias para mejorar la calidad de los servicios son.

Ejecución  de proyectos y obras urbanas.

Dotación de equipamientos y servicios.

Gestión de recursos naturales.

Generación de nuevos ingresos  presupuestarios de financiamientos y mejoramiento continuo de su capacidad local.

Hadeel Qazzaz

In this time of acute inequalities, the rise of anti-rights movements, shrinking civic spaces and the increase of conservatism and radicalism globally require powerful collective responses from the feminist movement. This renews the urgency for organising and collaborating on transformative feminist approaches and practices that help respond effectively to these challenges.

The attacks on women’s rights are being resisted by feminist movements working on both individual leadership and collective activism. A transformative approach that takes in changes in the formal political sphere, in parallel with work in the informal sphere - social norms and values - are helping to overcome barriers to women and girls’ participation and voice, so they can become powerful agents of change in sustainable and inclusive societies.

A transformative leadership approached for women's rights at the local or national government level requires addressing the individual vs the systemeic change and the informal (social norms) to the formal (laws and regulations). Without paying attention to all these dynamic powers change is not possiple. Quotas endorsed in laws were not able to change commitments to familial and tribal affiliation in local elections in Palestine. At the same time individual success of women in certain municipalities did not transorm the system to more gender sensitive governance.

I am interested to present and moderate a session on what transformative leadership foe wpme rights means in a local context and how a more comprehensive approach can bring more sustainable social change.

Sascha Gabizon Moderator

Thank you very much Hadeel, it is indeed very important that we work for transformative leadership based on women's rights principles. There was a good example from Tunesia earlier in the discussion, training young civil servants and elected women and men on women's rights and a feminist transformative approach. I think it is very interesting. Thank you for proposing to present your approach.  

Prabha Khosla

Perhaps now is the time to develop a strong and comprehensive programme for the realization of the rights of girls and women in all our diversity at the local level? Of course, a focus on the marginalized and excluded would be critical. The SDGs provide a great context to do this and we have good legislative guidance from CEDAW and the knowledge shared here and elsewhere to create an international programme to do so. A living lab of realizing women's human rights at the local level.This is so needed and so lacking.

Zafar Gondal

What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?

Since 1995, lot of changes have happened in government structures, powers structures and roles and responsibilities. In the federal setting, most of the actions under the Beijing Platform, 2030 Agenda for SDGs, and resolution 1325  are happening at sub national and local governments level. In unitary states, there is decentralization and devolvement of powers to sub national and local level. For implementation of programming activities, for transformative change, for sustainable change and change in mindset and perception, political inclusion, local level interventions have more sustained results. Health, education, economic empowerment, justice, private sector,  eradication of social, legal, economic barriers  happen effectively at local level and grassroot level . The Federal or Central government only harmonize, coordinate policies, activities, monitoring and evaluation of interventions. I would suggest robust policy and implementation coherence, collaboration and coordination.The Planning Departments need technical supports, skills and tools to coordinate activities, plan activities, implement , monitor, evaluate, learn lessons and  incorporate in new products. Again UNDP transformative approaches and Country level platform need to adopt to meet needs of each country. There is no one-fit-for-all solution. Women grooming and political activism at local level of democracy is more sustained, violence against women, social and economic discriminations and inequalities, legal exclusions and barriers occur at local level of governance, and solutions also must be local as well.

How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/ more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

Sustainable cities are safe, inclusive, resilient, just and are able to support sustainable communities, thriving communities, happy and growing communities, caring communities for planet and future generations. Such sustainable cities need peaceful and inclusive societies that have access to justice and fair institutions for all, social, economic, political, cultural and environmental institutions are inclusive, representatives and all are able to shape policies, laws and institutions. People, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership are priorities for sustainable and resilient cities. Women are 50% if not more in any city, policies and laws must ensure equal access to resources, equal access to production resources and equal access to distribution resources. The digital technologies and AI will play important role in sustainable cities, in equal distribution and in access to state, social and religious institutions. All SDGs need to feed into sustainable, safe, prosperous and happy cities. It is important to coordinate and collaborate activities, sequence activities, ensure enabling and accelerating environment in such cities. The sustainable cities need global citizenship education, health, agriculture for healthy and nutritious food, sanitation, economic opportunities, innovation opportunities, finances for business, healthy environment and above all safety, peace and protection.  All this we can not imagine without gender equality, women inclusion in making and shaping such cities. 

Mary Tembo

The key changes can be the recognition of equal pay for women and men. 

Decrease gender segregation in the labour market, as well as improving the employment opportunities of women and men even with foreign back ground, 

We need to stop early marriages and sexual harassment.  And by all means governments must come with deliberate policy that allows more women presentation in parliament, despite the background. And continue encouraging families on the gender agenda issues. Cause a family makes its own rules which opens ways to community. 

Fridah Karimi

Thank you for this important initiative especially as concerns local governance.

The context has to be put into perspective whenever decision have to be made as this determines the success or failure of interventions. This is also in line with the complexity or simplicity of interventions. 

A few examples of how gender issues can be addressed especially in conflict countries:-

a. having gender sensitive offices which have delineated washrooms for men and women as well as mother-baby rooms.

b. having prayer rooms specifically for women as these are normally left out

c. ensuring gender friendly offices e.g. having kitchens for those who would like to have home cooked food warmed or to make a cup of tea

d. local and district initiatives that advocate for the right to our town or village where everyone has a stake and feels welcome such as cleaning common areas and having clean up days

e. advocating for opportunities for and unsuring that the marginalized have a voice.

Frances Guy Moderator



1. Two questions were asked to kick off the discussion:

  • What are the key changes needed at a local level to improve gender equality in service provision?
  • How could the presence of more women in local government lead to sustainable cities/ more equitable resource distribution? What needs to happen to ensure these changes?

2. The questions had been based on the premise that more women were entering local government and that there may be lessons to be learnt from how their increasing presence had changed the delivery of services.  In fact, the premise was challenged in the on-line discussion as it became clear that most participants felt that there are not sufficient women in decision making positions at either local or national level and that one of the key challenges remains how to get more women into decision making positions.   The discussion covered the role and efficacity of quotas, and what types of quotas led to stronger results, including options for quotas for specific positions and different ways of organising quotas, with good experience mentioned for ‘zipper’ lists for election candidates.  It also looked at the continuing dominant patriarchal power structures that prevent women once elected from influencing change, and the need to support and network once women have been elected.   There was an emerging consensus on the need to encourage more young women into political participation through civic education and there was some discussion about the importance of capacity building for women in politics in the widest sense, including ensuring management skills, legal skills and general organisational skills.  Many of these exist in grassroots organisations but they are not always transferred into the political sphere.  There was a parallel view that more needed to be done to take into account the needs of all (including men) and that more needed to be done to address prevailing masculinities, and to build capacity of men for gender equality and women’s rights. 

3. On the specific questions of improved service delivery such as, for example, access to sanitation or safe public transportation, there was some discussion around the importance of reaching out to women’s organisations and to poorer women in all their manifestations.  The role of Gender responsive budgeting at a local level and the importance of community- based data were also highlighted.  The importance of organising consultations with local women and men in a gender-responsive manner were emphasised, e.g. to ensure the times and places are compatible with women’s roles and schedules. Some discussants noted successful tactics such as working on specific projects with locally elected women to help them deliver results for the community and seeking to implement policies that clearly targeted those most in need and involving eg the urban poor in the design phase of projects to ensure change. Feminist organisations are key allies in changing gender stereotypes and promoting stronger policies and should be engaged.

4. For the Forum some key themes were suggested: 

  • What is a gender sensitive city?   How can we get there? 

  • Role of quotas in local govt – what works? what types of quotas can make a difference?  lists, zips, good examples, horizontal and vertical     lists.  (different examples from different countries that could be compared and contrasted for effect - from this discussion we have Sierra Leone, Tunis, Montenegro, Georgia, Macedonia, India, Bangladesh and Rwanda) 

  • Creating a pool of women to prepare for local government:  different types of capacity building.  What is most useful.  Alternative forms of organisation at a local level – routes into politics, role of cooperatives, local community organisations such as shack dwellers?  are these the new politics?

  • How to help women deliver for women when they reach decision making positions – what role for feminist policy capacity building?  Potential role of women’s organisations delivering specific projects/ role of new deliverers/ solar engineers – female water engineers. 

  • The role of civic education in encouraging young men and women into politics?  Can teaching about politics make a difference?  Can local organisations help overcome dissatisfaction with existing political processes? 

  • Women making a difference.   Sharing good practice of women in local government; eg prizes on anti-corruption; implementing CEDAW at a local level

5. In terms of innovative forms of organising these discussions, there was a proposal to try to integrate web-based fora with those physically present.   It might be possible to arrange at least one session on this basis – bringing in questions/examples from those on line if technology permits.