Regional organizations are key players in efforts to promote gender equality. Most have set up legal and institutional frameworks to address gender equality, including women’s political empowerment. They usually have a dedicated committee, commission or directorate that is responsible for gender. And they have a mandate to coordinate, monitor and often implement the regional strategies endorsed by their respective member states.
These priorities are reflected in the recent publication of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy entitled, Inclusive Political Participation and Representation: The Role of Regional Organizations. While generally highlighting the experiences and innovations of regional organizations in promoting inclusive political participation and representation, the publication also focuses on their efforts at gender equality and mainstreaming in order to contribute to the building of inclusive political institutions.
Featured in the publication are the experiences and challenges of the EU, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the League of Arab States.
The publication concludes that regional organizations need their gender policy to be backed up by the political will of member states if inequality is to be addressed genuinely. The promotion of gender equality needs to be institutionalized in the regional organization and effective monitoring and evaluation systems to assess progress in achieving gender equality goals need to be put in place.
Gender policy must also identify how specific qualitative and quantitative targets will be met while, at the same time, avoiding any duplication with national efforts. This means that careful attention must be paid to developing gender sensitive indicators to measure progress.
Positive recognition must be given where it is due which raises awareness within the regional organization of the need to work towards full gender equality and systematic gender mainstreaming, In this way allies and fellow advocates can be found and encouraged.
International IDEA is the facilitator of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy, which is a leading platform for democracy for Regional Organizations.