Baseline data for women in Local Government needed

Baseline data for women in Local Government needed

Date: October 6, 2017
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By Gomolemo Rasesigo

Kampala, 29 September: Gender Links Botswana last week formed part of a Botswana delegation invited to participate in discussions on women in local government held in Kampala, Uganda. The workshop was held under the theme; Measurement and regional and global monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 5.5.1b: “proportion of seats held by women in local governments.”

Globally the only readily available information on women’s political representation has been for women in parliament and those in cabinet, which form part of the indicator 5.5.1a. There has been no precise information on representation of women at local government globally despite the fact that they are the once closest to communities. Information available, which is an estimated number, is from the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), which estimates that the global representation of women in local government globally stands at 23.4%.

This meeting on women’s representation in local government came at an opportune time when most regions in Africa are facing a decline in women’s representation at all levels. According to the 2017 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Gender Protocol Barometer women’s representation currently stands at 24% in the region. Indicator 5.5.1b of the SDGs on proportion of women in local government is an important indicator that should be tracked to hold governments accountable in promoting women’s political participation form grassroots level. The SDG is in line with article Part 3 of the SADC Gender Protocol, which is on women representation and participation. Without a baseline at the global level, it will be difficult to measure progress come in 2030 when our countries report on their progress.

Participants noted that it is difficult for women to make progress in politics especially in countries where there are no special measures in place to include women. Lack of funds, hostile, political environment and lack of training and support continue to stand in the way of women in politics. The lack of women at any level of decision-making means that their views are not considered when coming up with policies and programs that affect them. GL through its work in the Local Government Centres of Excellence in SADC continues to engage with stakeholders to ensure that data is readily available and lobby for equal representation at all levels.

The workshop intended to come up with a methodology to measure indicator 5.5.1b. The participants assessed the implications of having a standardized global measurement for women in local government.

Local government institutions, Gender Ministries, Statistics offices and others need to play a complementary role in data gathering, dissemination and use of this data and build partnerships. Collaboration is very important, as it would go a long way in curbing the conflicting information provided by stakeholders on women representation at local government. The meeting called for governments to play an active role in ensuring that data management systems are in place. The recommendation was that in countries the primary providers of statistics on women in politics should be IEC and Statistics offices.

The meeting concluded that the use of modern technology for data collection by some countries such as biometric is as a best practice especially in electoral administration.  The countries had information disaggregated by sex, age, education and other categories. Despite the good practice, it showed that there is still lack of accessibility to the data, insufficient use of the data, and lack of regular archiving of updated results of local elections. The national statistics office should play a key role as overall coordinators of production of statistics in ensuring that the same concepts and methodologies used when collecting data. They also generally ensure the quality of the data produced on women representation in local government. The gender machinery has a key role in advocating for data production and using the data for policy making, public awareness raising as well as to monitor issues related to political participation.

This meeting was coordinated by UNWomen and UNECA and formed part of a four-day regional training on improving the use of existing data for monitoring gender equality and women empowerment in Africa.

Gomolemo Rasesigo is the Gender Links Botswana country manager this article is part of Gender Links News and Blog

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