Call for tracking women's progress

17 March 2021 | Social Issues

MOSES MAGADZA

WINDHOEK

As the world marked International Women’s Day last week, the secretary-general of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Boemo Sekgoma, called for a framework for tracking and measuring key indicators to ensure progress of women in political participation.

She said although women's political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality, democracy and for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, more remains to be done to ensure their meaningful political participation.

While she acknowledged positive developments, she also highlighted several barriers that continue to limit women’s political participation.

Sekgoma said factors such as under-representation in all branches of government and senior political decision-making positions continue to limit women’s political participation.

Numbers lie

She also noted that increased numerical representation of women in leadership positions does not automatically translate into increased influence for women, as they may not have the room to speak or be listened to.

As an antidote to these challenges, Sekgoma suggested that “understanding and measuring perceptions is particularly important for measuring changes in women’s participation and leadership.”

Sekgoma also noted that it is important to appreciate women’s political effectiveness as the ability to politicise issues of concern to women, to use electoral leverage to press demands on decision-makers, to trigger better responsiveness from the public sector to their needs, and better enforcement of constitutional commitments to women’s equal rights.

“Measuring progress requires us to capture complex qualitative and quantitative indicators that can tell us about the changing realities of women’s lives,” she said.

She noted that barriers such as women’s access to resources like time, money, and experience, and their levels of motivation, ambition, and interest in politics shape the availability of women for public office.

“Indicators must not only measure if women are represented, but also the extent to which they are able to be actively involved in and influence decision-making processes at all levels through their participation,” she emphasised.

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