International Conference on Women and Democratic Governance in Eastern Europe and CIS started

03 Dec 2008

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International Conference on “Women and Democratic Governance” started with the message that gender equality strenghtens societies.

The conference, jointly organized by the Turkish International Cooperation & Development Agency (TİKA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), began in Istanbul with the participation of members of parliament from all around the world, representatives of civil society organizations, academicians, researchers and members of political parties particularly from Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Vice President of TİKA, Mustafa Şahin in the opening remark outlined the importance of this conference on women and governance as it was held before the upcoming local elections in Turkey and stated that TİKA, which has gradually increased the effectiveness of its development aid to other developing countries, aims to make sure that the experiences in the region are shared in the conference.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mahmood Ayub said that gender equality is one of the most important issues in the countries that want to be more democratic. Pointing out that women in Turkey obtained suffrage rights around 75 years ago with the help of Ataturk, Ayub stated that Turkey made significant progress on law making concerning the status of women, yet more steps are needed as regards women’s participation in economic, social and politcal spheres.

Indicating that the ratio of Turkish women members of parliament doubled in the last elections to 9 %, Ayub desired the same success to be repeated in local elections in  March 2009. Ayub also informed that women’s participation in local governments is 2% in Turkey (for full speech please click here).

The Deputy Director General on the Status and Problems of Women at the Prime Ministry, Leyla Coşkun stated in her speech that women’s empowerment is an important aspect of the modernization during an age when the development indicators are interpreted again.

Coşkun pointed out that the desired point is not reached despite the developments aiming gender equality in legislative system and practice. She added that the media has high responsibility in communicating the gender equality correctly (for full speech please click here - Turkish).

The Director of UNDP Gender Team, Winnie Byanyima stated in her speech that the ratio of women’s participation in politics has increased to 18% with an 8% increase in the last ten years. Indicating that the increase results from the cultural change in political parties and from women’s participation in decision-making processes, Byanyima added that the easiest way of involving women into politics is to make women participate in local governance.

Byanyima also said that through the quota allocated for women in local councils in India, more than one million women have started to be presented in village councils (for full speech please click here).

After the thematic sessions, the International Conference on Women and Democratic Governance ended on 3 December, 2008 with the launch of UNIFEM's report on Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women and the presentation of the future proposed Roadmap for work towards Gender Equality on Women and Governance in the Eastern Europe and CIS Region.