International Women's Day: shining a spotlight on women's participation

Sally Airey | Mar 14, 2016
International Women's Day event at Speaker's House for women's participatio

Last week was an exciting one for Womankind Worldwide. To mark International Women’s Day, we’ve been shining a spotlight on the challenges women around the world face to participate in politics and leadership.

Just 22% of politicians in the world are women – perhaps not surprising when we consider that millions of women worldwide are excluded from having a voice in their own homes and communities.

Our CEO, Caroline Haworth, explained: “It is shocking that, despite women’s rights activists campaigning for greater representation since the 19th century, women still represent less than one quarter of political figures globally. When women’s voices aren’t heard in decision making, the deep-rooted causes of gender inequality and discrimination remain.

To highlight the issue, we gathered some champions of women’s participation for an event at Speaker’s House in the House of Commons, where notably less than one third of MPs are women.

Speakers included Emma Howard Boyd of the 30% Club, Baroness Verma from the Department for International Development and Sakhile Sifelani-Ngoma from one of our partner organisations, the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) in Zimbabwe. Together, they stressed the importance of supporting women and girls to become leaders and have stronger voices in all levels of society. 

This week also saw the launch of our new research, which looks at how to support more women to have a voice in their communities. The research – Creating New Spaces: Women's experiences of political participation in communities – shows that women globally face many obstacles to public participation, such as strong cultural traditions, low literacy and lack of economic empowerment. But women’s groups and women-only safe spaces in countries like Zimbabwe, Nepal, Ghana and Afghanistan are helping to change this. They are providing a forum for women to gain the confidence and skills to become community leaders and even run for elected office.

The safe spaces created for Dalit women by our partner in Nepal are one such example. Women from the Dalit caste are ostracised in Nepal, so the spaces allow them to forge alliances and challenge the huge discrimination they face. 

To spread awareness, we’ve launched an exciting app to highlight the difficulties women face in becoming leaders and having a voice. Inspired by the Suffragette’s original Pank-a-Squith board game, Suffragette Roulette takes players on a fascinating, sometimes dangerous journey to getting elected. Along the way, players are faced with real-life hurdles from Twitter sexism to assassination attempts. To try your luck at getting elected, download from app stores or find out more here –  and don’t forget to tweet your results.

Read Theresa’s story to find out more about our work supporting women's participation. 

1 comment

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  1. ian anderson | Apr 18, 2016
    good work be heard.

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