Strategies to raise women’s participation in Polish political life were the focus of a conference organized in Warsaw on 17 April 2012 by the Polish Institute of Public Affairs, and supported by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the British Embassy.
The conference, which brought together representatives of political parties, civil society and the academic community, highlighted the impact of the 2011 parliamentary elections on women’s political representation in Poland.
Professor Małgorzata Fuszara, of the Polish Institute of Public Affairs, told the conference that women’s representation in the national parliament rose from 20 to 23.7 percent after the introduction of quotas requiring a minimum percentage of women on candidate lists.
“However, barriers to women’s meaningful participation, especially in accessing political decision-making, remain,” she added.
During the conference, ODIHR presented its baseline study Gender Equality in Elected Office: A Six-Step Action Plan, which identifies trends in women’s political participation in the OSCE region and proposes concrete measures for enhancing women’s representation in political life.
“Political parties can create a more level playing field for men and women candidates by making candidate-selection processes more transparent and fair,” said Kristin van der Leest, Adviser on Gender Issues at ODIHR. “Other measures include developing gender equality action plans and adopting voluntary quotas for women’s representation in party decision-making positions.”
The conference was part of ODIHR’s work to promote women’s political participation in the OSCE area, in line with international obligations and commitments to advance gender equality on the part of participating States.