Creating a culture of tolerance in society and in political lifeThe International Day of Democracy is a collective opportunity to promote values related to democracy such as freedom of expression, respect for the rights of men and women, and political tolerance.
“Political tolerance goes hand in hand with elections. We should be open to different ideas and different policies, and citizens should be afforded equal facilities to listen to all political parties. Voters are entitled to know which positions parties and their representatives are going to take on important issues such as violence against women, climate change and the environment, or the rights of children, and also what they are going to do to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas” said IPU President, Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, at the Fifth Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament in Vienna. He added that the International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to talk about women’s rights, and their presence in decision-making positions in parliament, in government and in the private sector.
Political tolerance, protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law must be respected everywhere. Parliaments and political parties can and must play a role to put into practice these values. That is the view of the IPU President and the Speakers of Parliament who share their opinions in this issue of The World of Parliaments.
Read in the pressAfrica: Continent's Women Making Progress in Legislative Politics
When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Africa starting August 4, she will be meeting with one of the continent’s foremost success stories for women in politics: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf became the first elected black female head of state in 2005 when Liberia’s voters elected her president with a margin of nearly 19 percent, a triumph that came only after she endured house arrest and exile during the country’s turbulent years. Women in Africa increasingly are making their presence felt on the political stage, but they still have a long way to go, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). IPU is a Geneva-based international organization established in 1889 to foster worldwide parliamentary dialogue and the firm establishment of representative democracy. IPU figures show that women hold an average of just 17.5 percent of legislative seats in sub-Saharan Africa. Women would need 30 percent of legislative seats to have a real influence in parliaments, IPU maintains. Even so, democratic elections, according to IPU, are a fact of life across most of Africa; the challenge now is ensuring that women have equal opportunities to vote and to run for office.
AllAfrica.com - America.gov (Washington, DC) - 3 August 2009
Say NO to Violence against Women
Theo Ben Gurirab, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, signs on to Say NO. Speakers and deputy speakers of 15 national parliaments as well as the Arab Transitional Parliament signed on to UNIFEM’s Say NO to Violence against Women campaign on 14 July and agreed to make the issue a priority in their work. “We should not be timid: As speakers, parliamentarians and women, we have a responsibility to lead the way in the effort to empower women,” said Barbara Prammer, Speaker of the Austrian National Council and host of the Fifth Annual Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament during which the signing took place. “We need to show political will and ensure that our institutions are more involved in this battle.” The conference in Vienna, Austria, on 13-14 July was organized by the National Council of Austria and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), whose president also added his name to Say NO. Worldwide there are a total of 34 women speakers of parliament, representing 12 percent of all speakers; 17 speakers and deputy speakers were gathered at the meeting in Vienna.
LA County Foreign Policy Examiner - examiner.com - 15 July 2009