Use collective power of MPs for gender equality

Hanoi,  March 2015
Women parliamentarians from across the world are calling upon all MPs to use their individual and collective power to make gender equality a reality for all women and girls.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, the women MPs are underscoring the enormous potential for change that MPs hold as legislators, representatives and overseers of government.
A call to action - I am an MP. My power for women’s power - aims to harness the strength of the parliamentary collective to create a more gender equal world. In particular, the IPU meeting on 28th March in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, will stress the critical importance of men and women working together for world without discrimination.
“Inequality is not a woman’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem. All parliamentarians, both men and women, know that when they use the political power they have, they can change mindsets and trigger fundamental change,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury.
“IPU’s Meeting of Women Parliamentarians’ shared vision and solidarity over 30 years has reformed a global organization and empowered women in international political decision-making. We urge men MPs to be part of that vision too,” he added.
Formally marking the beginning of IPU’s 132nd Assembly (#IPU132), the Meeting will take stock of what has been achieved on gender equality since its first meeting in Lomé, Togo, in 1985, when women MPs represented just 7.3 per cent of all parliamentarians at an IPU Assembly.
Now accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the MPs in Hanoi, the more than 200 women MPs will also identify what still needs to be done to achieve the goals in the Beijing Plan of Action on women’s empowerment adopted 20 years ago.
The IPU women MPs meeting, a pioneer initiative, has since been a trailblazer in leading political change. It is a unique and valuable platform for women MPs from all regions in the world to provide formal input into all IPU’s political decisions. Through this involvement, women MPs have been empowered to take on leadership roles at international and national level.
The Meeting has also helped shaped IPU’s political agenda and programme of work on issues such as violence against women, in addition to instigating innovative reform within IPU itself. The Organization was the first global entity to set quotas for women’s participation in all its structures and events, with penalties on voting rights for Members in cases of non-compliance.
It is a far cry from the two women MPs attending an IPU Assembly in 1921, the very first time both sexes were represented. Nevertheless, the low numbers of women in politics, and in particular in parliament, continue to be of concern. IPU’s data over the years has shown that although the percentage of women MPs in the world has nearly doubled in 20 years from 11.3 per cent to 22.1 per cent, progress has remained slow.
“The Meeting of Women Parliamentarians has shown what collective persistence and action can achieve. But there can be no let-up in efforts to achieve gender equality if we are to eradicate poverty, disease, conflict and create a world full of promise for everyone,” President Chowdhury stressed.
Picture editors: Photos from the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians will be available for download and free use at: from 29th March.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.