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2014: A big opportunity for women in politics

2014 will be a crucial year in terms of changes in women’s representation in Parliaments. 40% of the population will vote during the next 365 days around the globe. But will we finally achieve a better gender-balanced representation? As it is one aim of the mission of WIP to see more women in Parliaments, we will be monitoring this year’s elections to see how women perform.

From more than 40 countries, Costa Rica will be one of the first to go to the ballot boxes next February. Even though there are no female candidates to replace the outgoing President Laura Chinchilla– currently one of the four female presidents in Latin America – the country has one of the best records in women representation in Parliament in the region. Costa Rica ranks 15th in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s World Classification; with 38.6% of female MPs, and has a new gender quota system which ensures that 50% of all candidates are women. Likewise, Bolivia and Colombia are voting this year with new quota systems which could have a significant impact on the election results in South America.

Big countries and economic giants like India (May) and Brazil (October) will also vote this year. Brazil’s first female President, Dilma Rousseff, will run again for President. Elsewhere, India has strengthened women’s rights laws last year in the aftermath of a brutal gang rape that received global attention. This fatal incident has given new impetus to the debate of gender equality and women empowerment. In terms of women’s representation India, ranks 108th in the IPU classification, with 11% of Parliamentarians being female.

Another important date will be the European Parliament elections next May. The European Women’s Lobby– with the support of some current MEPs – is promoting the 50/50 Campaign in order to achieve a gender-balanced Parliament. Some of the speakers and participants of the WIP Annual Summit 2013, like the former Prime Minister of Iceland, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, signed the Joint Declaration during their days in Brussels.

Elections will be held all around the world this year: Thailand, Slovakia, Iraq, Panama, South Africa, Fiji… And in all of them there is a new opportunity for women to step forward to advance society. In the words of Malala Yousafzai who delivered a video-message to the WIP Summit: “Instead of standing in front of the Parliaments, why don’t we go inside and join politics?”