The IPU and UN Women held a joint parliamentary event at the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) on 13 March 2019 in New York. Participants at the event discussed ways of making social protection programmes more gender responsive.
The parliamentary event, Investing in gender equality: Parliaments ensuring social protection, public services and infrastructure deliver for women and girls, was attended by over 170 people, including three women Speakers from Namibia, Togo and Zimbabwe; 110 MPs from 35 countries, of which 100 were women; parliamentary staff; government officials; and representatives of international and non-governmental organizations.
Social protection programmes are crucial to creating a sustainable society: they protect people from poverty and assure the equal distribution of public services, such as health, water and sanitation. Unfortunately, they are often designed without taking women’s needs and changing roles into consideration and are based on outdated gender roles. Parliaments play an important role in ensuring that the programmes help women by allocating adequate resources to gender equality and by overseeing social protection programmes.
The parliamentary event aimed to share best practices of parliaments. Participants suggested four ways to make sure that social protection, public services and infrastructure could advance gender equality. First, MPs should promote the adoption of laws that give legal status to social protection programmes and to gender-responsive budgeting. Second, parliaments should carry out oversight to guarantee that the design and implementation of social protection, public services and infrastructure take into account women’s needs and realities and are adequately financed. Third, parliamentarians should engage more with citizens, especially women and young people, to build the political will to achieve gender equality, and should consult with women on public policy design. Fourth, parliaments themselves have to be gender equal by increasing the number of women MPs, ensuring women MPs are represented in leadership positions, and gender-mainstreaming structures in parliament.
The IPU also co-organized three side events on sexism and gender equality, all of which were well-attended with over 100 people at each. On 12 March, the IPU and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations organized an event, Sexism, Harassment and Violence against Women Parliamentarians. Participants took stock of the legal measures and policies taken to combat violence against women MPs and to share best practices. The event aimed to strengthen partnerships at global, regional and local levels, and to increase the impact of the work on this issue.
Two side events took place on 14 March. The first one, organized by the IPU, UN Women and the Permanent Missions of Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Albania and Canada, was called From Critical Mass to Gender Parity—Women in Decision-Making Do Make a Difference! Participants discussed how women leaders have brought about positive change, especially in social protection programmes and in eliminating gender-based violence.
The second side event, organized by the IPU, UN Women and the Permanent Missions of Trinidad and Tobago, was titled Data on Women in Politics: Getting to Equal? Using findings from the IPU's report, Women in Parliament and UN Women’s research into local government, participants examined the trends of women in politics.