‘Candidate quota for women alone is not a 100% guarantee for gender equality in Parliament’

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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure and the Promoting Gender Equality in Decision-Making in Mongolia Project of the UN jointly organized the First Conference of Women Parliamentarians on September 7 at the State Palace.

The conference was held on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of Mongolia and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the modern Parliament in Mongolia.

During the conference, generational female parliamentarians and representatives of the UN Development Program, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), women’s organizations under political parties, Leadership Network NGO and women social activists discussed the international legal framework and the current state of women’s political participation in Mongolia.

At the beginning of the conference, Speaker of Parliament G.Zandanshatar remarked, “In the 30-year history of the permanent Parliament, eight parliamentary elections have been held, and a total of 43 women were elected to Parliament 68 times in duplicate. In addition to being the voice of the ‘weak’ groups in society, women lawmakers have been more proactive in revising the laws of vital sectors where women’s employment dominates, such as family, labor, education and health. Thirty years ago, women made up 3.9 percent of members of Parliament but in the last two elections, the number of female legislators increased to 17.1 percent. However, this is still insufficient compared to the average of other countries.”

He emphasized that increasing the number of female lawmakers is not only important for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals but also has many positive consequences, such as the active participation of all women, including the young generation, in political and social life and the making of any policy decisions in a gender-oriented manner. In order to make more progress in empowering women in the future, the speaker highlighted the need to not only set quotas in the electoral law but also consider the impact of the electoral system, ensure the financing and transparency of political parties and improve the legal framework.

Noting that the participation of women leaders is essential in finding and implementing solutions to problems, correcting social stereotypes and implementing sustainable development policies that respect human rights and the rule of law, the speaker asked people, especially women, to actively participate in e-discussions of bills through the D-Parliament platform and continuously support the activities of the democratic Parliament, which respects human rights.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament S.Odontuya expressed, “Mongolia’s government and political parties say they will work to ensure gender equality and increase the percentage of women in Parliament, but the number of female members is still low. Increasing women’s participation in decision-making is a global concern. Because a woman’s natural qualities such as flexibility, ability to quickly adapt to situations, aspiration to stick to one’s ideals, high perseverance and ability to see small violations hidden in big problems and find solutions have an important influence on the decisions and development of Parliament.”

She stressed that women are a direct reflection of their society, before saying, “We can work proactively by being sensitive to issues such as education, health and social protection. Today, the ‘sick point’ of Mongolian society is undoubtedly poverty and humanitarian issues.”

“The role of women in social and political life is increasing day by day. Ensuring gender equality in state and social relations is not only a matter of human rights but also a matter of the development of every sector. Mongolia legislated human rights and freedoms in a comprehensive sense when approving its first Constitution in 1924,” Chairman of the Standing Committee on State Structure J.Munkhbat said.

During the conference, Minister of Labor and Social Protection D.Sarangerel informed that Mongolia ranks 120th out of 153 countries in terms of political participation of women. The country is one of the five countries where the quota of women’s political participation is below 25 percent, she said.

She added, “According to the National Committee on Gender, progress in the level of women’s representation in politics and in the labor force is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As of today, 13 of the 76 members of Parliament are women. In terms of the number of female parliamentarians, Mongolia is ranked 133 out of more than 190 countries in the world. Female members are actively working to address the problems facing society. We are working on many bills, such as the draft Law on Child Protection and the Law on Family. Most recently, a bill on increasing the participation of women entrepreneurs in the economy has been initiated and submitted to Parliament.”

D.Munkhuu, a former member of Parliament, expressed her wish to re-establish a Mongolian Women’s Committee and a minister in charge of women’s affairs without ministry. 

Equal participation of men and women in decision-making is crucial. D.Munkhuu shared that science has proven that men make policy with a far-sighted view based on theory, while women value relationships and make pragmatic decisions based on the current situation. Therefore, women and men should work together to make any government policy and decision, she said.

The former legislator also emphasized that it is time for the Mongolian government to implement policies that support family education and that without this policy, it is impossible to talk about the development of the country.

UNDP Representative Elaine Conkievich stated, “It has been 30 years since the global discussion about equal representation of women in Parliament has been intense. In 1951, Mongolians elected 295 representatives for the People’s Great Khural (former name of Parliament of Mongolia in the late 1900s). Of them, 59 or 20 percent were women. The proportion of women in the People’s Great Khural in 1990 increased to 24.9 percent, which is only a 4.9 percent increase for the entire 39 years. In 1992, under the new Constitution, only 3.9 percent of members of Parliament were women. Today, the number of female parliamentarians is 13. However, it should be noted that although this indicator seems to be increasing to a certain extent, it is 9.3 percent lower than the global average and 4.1 percent lower than the Asian regional average.”

“Candidate quota for women alone is not a 100 percent guarantee for gender equality in Parliament, but we hope that Mongolia will take internationally approved measures aimed at making the legal environment friendly and ensuring women’s representation in the legislature,” she said.

Doctor of Law, Professor of the National University of Mongolia O.Munkhsaikhan gave a speech on the regulation of political financing, good practices and the legal framework supporting women’s political participation.

He raised the issue of ideals and realities of Mongolia’s first democratic Constitution, women’s political participation, its successes and challenges. He also introduced the good practice of political funding regulation and held a discussion with the participants.

Doctor of Education, Head of Women and Youth Intellectual Fund Ts.Bujidmaa presented a report on the political participation of women in Mongolia and the experience of foreign countries and talked about the possibility of implementing good practices.

The participants shared their opinions in connection with the draft joint manifesto on ensuring gender equality and women’s participation at the decision-making level. They decided to adopt the manifesto by summarizing the proposals made during the conference.

Misheel Lkhasuren

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