Leadership and political participation

Photo: UN Women/ Emad Karim

Political Participation:

The Arab region has the lowest participation of women in political life globally, and is ranked the lowest in political participation on the gender gap index. At only 15.2%, the region is far behind the global average of 22.1% of women represented in parliament. Some countries have made efforts to embed gender equality in constitutions and policies, including a provision for a quota system, however, this is the exception rather than the norm.

Women are also under-represented in political parties, as judges and in ministerial positions. This under-representation translates further into public life, including in engaging in political activities and voting.

What we do:

UN Women’s leadership and political participation programmes are guided by international commitments made to women, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that upholds women’s right to participate in public life, and the Beijing Platform for Action , which calls for removing all barriers to equal participation. In the Arab region, UN Women works with policy makers, civil society, elected officials and constituents to engage and enhance the participation of women in public life. 

On the Regional Level:

A Regional Female Members of Parliament Network “Arab Female Parliamentarian Network for Equality” was launched in 2014 and operationalized in 2015. This network is considered a pioneering initiative, as it targets enhancing gender equality across the different thematic areas of concern. The network includes representation from the 22 countries in the Arab region. In 2015, the network will focus on mapping, analyzing and proposing amendment to the different laws/legislations pertaining to women’s political participation to enhance women’s representation in the different elected bodies.


UN Women ROAS works on three fronts in Libya:

  • Engendering the constitution making process. Different workshops/meetings were held to elicit women’s demands/feedback on the Constitution to ensure its gender sensitivity. A review, from a gender perspective, was also made to the draft Constitution and specific amendments were articulated and formally conveyed to the Constitution Development Assembly;
  • Enhancing women’s capacities to actively engage in the National Dialogue and the transitional period. Different capacity building workshops in mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution were provided to 50 Libyan women activists and CSOs to equip them with the needed skills, knowledge and attitudes to actively get engaged in the peace process and post agreement period. Realizing the power of advocacy and lobbying, an action plan was developed detailing the different activities/actions to be carried out by women CSOs to complement the National Political Dialogue efforts to bring peace and stability to Libya.
  • Establishing a Women’s Track within the National Political Dialogue to ensure women voices are conveyed to the decision makers and that gender issues are taken into consideration and attended to. 


  • Establishing an Algerian Female MPs National Caucus: One of the main recommendations of the Algeria Declaration 2013 was the establishment of an operational Algerian Female MPs’ National Caucus. In response to this, UN Women, based on a request from the Algerian Lower-House of Representatives, provided the needed financial and technical assistance to facilitate a smooth and quality launching of this initiative. Two consultative meetings were held with female Algerian MPs. The consultative meetings focused on exposing Algerian female MPs to the different experiences of establishing national caucuses regionally and internationally. In addition, different best practices/lessons learnt from these experiences were highlighted to draw Algerian MPs’ focus to the importance of building on successes and overcoming hurdles/hampers. The Algerian female MPs National Caucus will be officially launched in June 2015.


  • Through the Spring Forward for Women Programme, UN Women Jordan supported the Youth District Councils to strengthen leadership skills of Jordanian youth and encourage their contribution to local community development in selected rural areas.
  • UN Women has also continued its support to the trade unions and their general federation to empower female members and workers in the Women’s Committees and the Executive Boards of the trade unions. UN Women held a specialized leadership training workshop for the General Committee to build leadership skills for selected female and male members who will participate in the upcoming elections of 2015.


  • Through the Spring Forward for Women Programme, the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) implemented interventions on advocacy, awareness raising, capacity building and lobbying on gender equity, women’s rights and increasing women’s political participation with the Palestinian political parties which has contributed to increasing the quota for women in the PLO and the state of Palestine Institutions from 20% to 30%.
  • UN Women and the General Union of Workers (GUW) conducted two coordination meetings to revitalize the role of women in unions and increase their representation in decision making processes. The meetings resulted in an agreement to launch a review process of the GUW’s by-laws and extract concrete recommendations to mainstream gender and ensure effective participation of women in the decision making processes of the union.
  • In partnership with the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) training was provided to 22 media professionals (13 women and 9 men) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on gender and the media. Action plans were developed to produce media products that include testimonies highlighting the importance and effectiveness of women’s participation in political life.  
  • The Local Committees in Gaza received 18 days of training on advocacy mechanisms, CEDAW and the UN SCR 1325. Discussions throughout the training days were related to the context and the status of women in Gaza as well as women’s participation in the reconstruction process especially in the aftermath of the last Israeli military operation in July 2014.


  • Through the “Political Academy for Women Candidates” project, an advocacy training session was conducted in January 2015 to strengthen the participants’ advocacy skills. 19 women candidates participated and gained advocacy skills and political “know-how” to better address women’s rights and gender concerns at the local level. A networking event, called “Salon politique”, was also organized to engage the candidates and enable them to reach a wider audience including media, citizens, party figures, and international political personalities through debates, discussion groups, and speeches on gender equality issues.
  • 25 future women candidates from various political parties received training on their political rights and how to raise their self-confidence to exercise their rights and play a leadership role in their community and at a regional level.


  • The “Parliamentarians for Equality” working group has been guided, through UN Women’s support, by two experts (a constitutionalist and a publicist) in order to analyze the draft laws on APALD and on the elections. The group has developed recommendations to influence their respective parliamentary groups and ensure the integration of women’s rights in the analysis of these bills once discussed in the relevant committees.
  • Through the Women’s Elections Watch programme, the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) continued to monitor and advocate for institutional accountability on gender equality and women’s rights through: 1) The Monitoring Committee of the Governmental Plan for Equality (PGE), organized a seminar on "the Governmental Plan for Equality 2012-2016: where are we in the implementation?" (January 14). The PGE Monitoring Committee is composed of 16 associations working in the fields of human rights and development; and 2) Following the presentation of the draft law 79.14 relating to the Authority for Parity and fight against all forms of Discrimination (APALD), the ADFM issued a press statement and organized a press conference on March 3 where it stated that the project does not meet the expectations of civil society, and highlighted the deficiencies of the bill in terms of the mission, powers, composition, and structure of APALD.