Democracy and Gender Equality: The Role of the United Nations

This publication is only available in electronic format
30 September 2013
978-91-86565-90-9 (Print)
Massimo Tommasoli
United Nations, United Nations Development Programme, UN Women

Women’s participation is a central element of democracy, and the nature and degree of women’s participation is a key indicator of the quality of democratic culture.

On 4 May 2011, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, the UN Development Programme and International IDEA convened a high level round table meeting in New York to examine the links between democracy and gender equality, and to explore the UN’s role in promoting both.  

The round table gathered 150 policymakers, practitioners and academics working on various aspects of gender equality and democracy to review the UN’s work at the critical juncture between promoting gender equality and strengthening democracy worldwide. Their conversations revealed both challenges and opportunities for the UN in this area, based on lessons drawn from both research and practice.

The event was part of a series of policy-oriented events organized by the UN and International IDEA on the relationship between democracy building and the pillars of UN work. 


Key Recommendations

Executive Summary


Key Themes in Democracy and Gender Equality

Panel One: Political Participation, Representation and Gender Equality

Panel Two: Impact of Traditional and New Social Media on Women’s Engagement with Democratic Processes

Panel Three: Strengthening Accountability to Women

Conclusions and Recommendations


Related Content

Image credit: International IDEA

Image credit: International IDEA 

Press Release
An interview with a local female Elected Representative

Image credit: Kavita Karki, Rabu Ranjit and Sama Dangol.

News Article

A collection of speakers from past events.

Top row from left to right: Patricia Torsney, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations; Anne-Marie Goetz, Professor of Global Affair at the New York University; Maria Bassols, Deputy Permanent Representative for the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations; Malene Almeida, Coordinator at Praia City Group on Governance Statistics; Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor at International IDEA. 

Middle Row from left to right:  Annika Silva-Leander, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA; Keboitse Machangana, Former Director of Global Programme at International IDEA; Annika Savill, Executive Head for the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); Njeri Kabeberi, Chair of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers; Sarah Lister, Head of Governance at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. 

Bottom row from left to right: Pippa Norris, Lecturer and Political Science at Harvard University; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Maria Leissner, Ambassador at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Riika Laatu, Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.