Barbara Garma Soares and 20 other women broke longstanding discriminatory barriers to be elected as village chiefs in Timor-Leste. Their number, while small, is a record, achieved through specialized training and a new law requiring the fielding of women candidates in local polls. Photo: UN Women/Corinne Roberts.

Barbara Garma Soares and 20 other women broke longstanding discriminatory barriers to be elected as village chiefs in Timor-Leste. Their number, while small, is a record, achieved through specialized training and a new law requiring the fielding of women candidates in local polls. Photo: UN Women/Corinne Roberts.

Leading the way to political inclusion

Leadership and political participation

More women than ever are successfully running for office, climbing the corporate ladder and shattering the glass ceiling. But not yet in numbers equal to men. In the 2030 Agenda, the world agreed that progress must accelerate, and soon. The global goals depend on women’s full participation and leadership in all arenas of life. UN Women advocates laws and policies that boost the number of women leaders. We help women acquire skills to compete at the top of their game. Our support contributes to a fairer, more inclusive world—the vision of the 2030 Agenda.

UN Women’s work described below illustrates contributions especially to the Sustainable Development Goals on gender equality, inclusion and accountable institutions.

Barbara Garma Soares (right) and 20 other women broke longstanding discriminatory barriers to be elected as village chiefs in Timor-Leste. Their number, while small, is a record, achieved through specialized training and a new law requiring the fielding of women candidates in local polls. Photo: UN Women/Corinne Roberts.
Barbara Garma Soares was elected first woman village chief in her village in Timor-Leste, after receiving training provided by UN Women. Photo: UN Women/Corinne Roberts.

Winning more seats in elections

In her coastal fishing village in Timor-Leste, Barbara Garma Soares campaigned hard during the 2016 local elections. Going door to door, she tirelessly rallied her neighbours around a programme of working together to improve their community. When voters went to the polls, they readily elected Soares as their village chief, marking the first time ever that a woman could claim that position.

72

laws adopted or amended
to strengthen women’s rights
in 61 countries

4,000

aspiring and elected
women leaders trained
in 51 countries

8

countries adopted
temporary special measures

The recent introduction of paid paternity leave in Moldova, one of a series of strengthened gender equality provisions in national laws and codes, is a step towards bringing men more fully into unpaid family care responsibilities. Photo: UN Women/Rena Effendi.

The recent introduction of paid paternity leave in Moldova, one of a series of strengthened gender equality provisions in national laws and codes, is a step towards bringing men more fully into unpaid family care responsibilities. Photo: UN Women/Rena Effendi.

Laws open spaces for women

Moldova took a huge jump towards greater equality in 2016 when Parliament passed Law No. 71, which established gender quotas for political party lists and cabinet nominees, introduced paid paternity leave, and banned sexism in advertising and media, among other advances. The law has resulted in amendments scaling up gender equality provisions in 15 national laws and codes.

Australia values UN Women’s practical in-country programmes and its global advocacy role. It is vital that United Nations activities to promote gender equality are coordinated to achieve the best possible impact. UN Women plays a pivotal role across the UN system. This is particularly important in the Pacific, where resources are scarce and the challenges considerable.

Julie Bishop, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
More than 150 women parliamentarians and international organization representatives from twenty countries in the Arab States region gathered in a regional forum in Rabat, Morocco, on 9 and 10 February 2016 to discuss a unified agenda towards a more gender-responsive policy in the region and the inclusion of women in politics. The Forum was organized by the Arab Women Parliamentarians Network for Equality “Ra’edat” (“Pioneers” in Arabic), the European Union and UN Women, in the framework of the Spring Forward for Women programme. Photo: UN Women/Kimja Vanderheyden.
Opening of Arab Women Parliamentarians “Ra’edat” Forum, Rabat (Morocco), February 2016, where more than 150 women parliamentarians from 20 countries gathered to devise a common programme to expand opportunities for women to participate in shaping public policy. Photo: UN Women/Kimja Vanderheyden.

Parliamentarians inspire a region

They came from across the Arab States—women parliamentarians with a common passion to reach the goal of gender equality. At a conference in Morocco, organized by the Arab Women Parliamentarians for Equality with UN Women’s support, legislators from 20 countries drew inspiration from shared experiences. They devised a common programme to expand opportunities for women to participate in shaping public policy. Their unified voice for change is reverberating across the region, sending the message that development, peace and democracy—all aims of the 2030 Agenda—cannot be achieved without equality.

Ms. Abla Al Hajaia, 28, from the south-west town of Tafila, is the youngest City Council member in Jordan. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

SDG 5: Gender equality Abla Al Hajaia, 28, from the south-west town of Tafila, is the youngest City Council member in Jordan. At present, she is working to establish a national youth alliance in the country. She was among 104 women who received leadership trainings in 2016, as part of UN Women’s regional Spring Forward programme. In 2016, 20 female Members of Parliament were elected in Jordan—the highest number of female MPs in the history of Jordan—out of which, seven had participated in capacity building initiatives by UN Women and the Jordanian National Commission for Women. Ms. Al Hajaja’s work exemplifies SDG 5 on gender equality and its target on ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making.

Abla Al Hajaia: “I made history by becoming the youngest City Council member”

“My sister, who’s a lawyer and a women’s rights activist, encouraged me to run for local elections. I hesitated at first; even when women are selected, they are expected to be a mere accessory. I had worked for many years as a volunteer and social worker. I had a grasp on the real issues that my community was facing.

In the beginning, none of the decision-makers involved in the election process liked the fact that a young woman was going to file as a candidate. They resisted me at every turn and said I couldn’t win because of my age and gender.

I campaigned door-to-door. I visited every home, introduced myself and explained why I would be a good candidate. Everyone was surprised when the results came out—I received more votes compared to many male candidates!

I made history by becoming the youngest City Council member in Jordan.

There are Syrian refugees in my town. I am finding ways to involve them in local interactions, so that we build their engagement and foster community tolerance and acceptance.

For me, educating women on their basic legal rights is the need of the hour. Many have no information on how to protect themselves or exercise their rights. The entire future of a woman can change if that changes.”

Women in politics map 2017