Enhancing gender equality within political parties was the focus of a roundtable discussion held in Tirana by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Presence in Albania on 18 June 2012.
The meeting brought together more than 40 representatives of Albanian political parties, parliament, local government and women’s advocacy groups to discuss voluntary measures political parties can adopt to promote women as party decision-makers, leaders and candidates for public office.
“As crucial gatekeepers of democracy, political parties have a responsibility to introduce all necessary changes for increasing women’s participation in politics,” said Ambassador Eugen Wollfarth, Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania. "Creating equal opportunities for women to be full and active participants in politics is a key parameter of a modern democratic society.”
Sonja Lokar, Executive Director of the Central and Eastern European Network for Gender Issues, noted that the internal functioning of political parties directly impacts on women’s opportunities to stand as party candidates.
“It is important for women members to understand party procedures for recruitment, candidate selection and the allocation of resources, in order to better plan their political careers,” Lokar said.
During the discussion, ODIHR Gender Adviser Kristin van der Leest presented Gender Equality in Elected Office: A Six-Step Action Plan, a study which highlights different measures parties can adopt to promote women as decision-makers and candidates.
“Political parties can introduce voluntary quotas or targets for women’s candidatures, develop gender action plans, or establish initiatives to support the campaigns of women candidates,” van der Leest said.
The roundtable discussion was to be followed by a two-day intensive training seminar attended by 35 women participants. The training is designed to enhance the leadership skills of women candidates from political parties, ahead of parliamentary elections in 2013.