Women’s Representation in Local Government in Asia-Pacific – Status Report 2010

Aug. 1, 2011, 8:14 p.m.

Women’s Representation in Local Government in Asia-Pacific – Status Report 2010 was conducted by a partnership between UNDP, UNIFEM, UCLG ASPAC, and CLGF. The report looks at the level of women’s representation at the different tiers of local government and the impact this has on the role and rights of women.  The report is intended to be a tool for senior policy-makers, local governments/associations, advocates, UN agencies, and other government and NGO partners. The report is “a baseline measure of women’s representation in local government in Asia Pacific on a country by country basis” which will be continued until 2015. 

The report also plays a role in analyzing how the MDG 3 goal will be achieved which looks at women’s representation at the national level.  However, if you leave out women's level of representation at local levels you miss out on key information and reasons behind a delay in meeting the MDG 3 goal. 

(1)  The barriers to women’s participation and the patterns of actual representation at sub-national government tiers are in most countries very different from those surrounding national parliaments. In addition the barriers across different levels of sub-national government can vary depending on whether they are urban, rural, intermediary or provincial.

(2)  For most people in Asia and the Pacific, local governments are far more important arenas for matters having a direct impact on their livelihoods than national parliaments, especially when local governments are responsible for the delivery of key services;

(3)  Depending on the country, sub-national governments are the political arenas where the majority of women are likely to have greater numerical opportunities to compete. For example, if you combine these positions across the Pacific only (excluding the French Territories) there are over 7000 positions.

By not measuring the percentage of women represented in sub-national governments with any MDG target, national strategies risk ignoring one of the most important arenas for women’s political participation. As part of the Millennium Project, the Task Force on Education and Gender Equality has identified increasing women’s share of seats in national and local government bodies, as one of the seven strategic priorities needed to achieve MDG 3 on gender equality. To this end, the Task Force proposed the inclusion of an indicator (additional to the numbers of women in national parliament) on the percentage of seats held by women in local government bodies.

It looks at the “institutional and societal constraints to women’s political participation and representation”. The report goes on to look at different tiers of local governments and women’s representation in rural councils, urban councils, districts/intermediary councils, and provincial and regional assemblies.  The main objective of the report is:
To deepen the understanding of progress made towards the Millennium Development Goal 3, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, by introducing a subnational measure of women’s political representation.

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