Report of DeLoG in DiaLoGue – Transforming DLG: G for Gender #2 – Women in Local Governments

For the second session of our DeLoG in DiaLoGue series, we invited Jelena Janevska, Program Director of NALAS, to speak on their effort to promote women in local governments.

DeLoG in DiaLoGue – Transforming DLG: G for Gender is a series of informal expert conversations focused on gender sensitive, responsive and transformative approaches at the local level. Each session dedicated to one member and partner to showcase their approach. The first session addressed the topic of gender mainstreaming across all levels and operations of an organisation. Our guest was Giulia Maci, head of Cities for Women Global Programme and Gender Focal Point at Cities Alliance. Giulia told us about the challenges of developing a comprehensive gender strategy that includes all areas of local policy making and that can be implemented by all colleagues. 

On this session we invited Jelena Janevska – Program Director at NALAS – who talked about NALAS work on promoting gender equality at local level and presented best practice examples from South-East Europe. NALAS sees its role as ambassador on promoting gender equality and is dedicated to raise awareness on gender equality within the economies they work in. NALAS leads by example: Last year they elected their first women president. Based on the year-long data collection by NALAS, they identified the need to establish a group for women mayors to access resources and exchange knowledge. 

Women’s rights to equal political participation at all levels of government are recognized in international normative frameworks, emphasized in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and endorsed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. An analysis, published in a Working Paper by UN Women from December 2021, indicates that women’s representation in deliberative bodies of local government is higher than in parliament, but still not on equal terms with men. Very few countries have reached gender balance in local decision-making bodies. In the majority of countries, women’s underrepresentation is still severe.  

Based on data collected by UN Women, as of January 2020, Central Asia and Southern Asia region has the highest percentage of elected seats held by women in local deliberative bodies. The average percentage of women’s representation in local positions is 34%. During the discussion answers varied among participants on what the biggest challenges for women participation in decision-making at local level are. Most see political and legal constraints (corruption/ vague laws) as well as socio-cultural challenges (bias/ chauvinism/ conservative traditions and religious taboos/fear of violence) as the main reasons for women not being equally included and represented in local governments. 

Focusing on one of the many challenges, next DeLoG in DiaLoGue – Transforming DLG: G for Gender will address gender-based-violence, its impact on women’s social and political participation as well as highlight projects from our partners that address GBV to deepen local democracy. 

 Find NALAS Gender Equality ressources here.