BAKU, 21 June 2012 – An OSCE workshop on increasing the participation of women in political parties in Azerbaijan opened today in Baku.
The two-day event, organized OSCE Office in Baku, with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), will bring together some 30 senior officials of political parties.
“The basic principle of representative democracy is that a country’s leadership is reflective of the composition of its population, which in most countries is about half female. Given that political parties are the primary and most direct vehicle through which anyone can access elected office and political leadership, the deliberate inclusion of women in political parties’ values, practices, structures and policies is essential for women’s equal participation in political life,” said Melissa Stone, the Deputy Head of the OSCE Office in Baku, in her opening speech.
“It is no coincidence that the most secure countries in the world, in terms of peace and prosperity, have the best representation of women in their parliaments,” she concluded.
Participants will discuss with local and international experts the role of political parties and civil society organizations in advancing democracy and increasing the role of women in political parties, including legislative initiatives and overcoming existing barriers and stereotypes, and best practices in the OSCE area.
“Political parties can play a key role in increasing the level of women’s political participation in elections, both as voters and candidates,” said Diana Digol, a Project Officer at ODIHR. "Women’s chances of gaining higher elected office will not improve if political parties fail to promote them."
Azerbaijan has made progress towards increasing women’s representation in elected offices over the years. From 2005 to 2010, the number of female Members of Parliament increased from 11 per cent to 16 per cent, while from 2004 to 2009 the number of female municipal councillors rose from 4 per cent to 26 per cent.