Vienna, 11 June 2013. Hon. Petra Bayr, head of the AWEPA Austrian section, held a Parliamentary seminar in Vienna regarding Female Empowerment in Parliaments and Parties in Africa on June 11th 2013. Hon. Bayr stressed the concern that could arise if “half of the population is neglected” as women account for 52 percent of the world population. This topic is critical, if women are not equal in decision-making processes then the legitimacy and decisions themselves are called into question. Consequently successful democracy rests upon gender equality.
In order to avoid such a trend, AWEPA facilitated a debate which considered the legal, administrative and socio-cultural barriers that prevent women from adequately
be able to participate in politics. Subsequently there was a sharing of best practices, as it was noted that much can be learnt from Rwanda, where 56 percent of all parliamentarians are female. Yet in countries where women are inadequately represented there was a call for policies which encourage women to be politically active, thus enabling an entire population to participate fully, with political influence, in society.
AWEPA strives for the development of Africa through the promotion of democratic process and political dialogue between Africa and Europe.
The event was split into two sections, each focusing on a different element of the gender struggle. The first program offered an overview to the situation of women in African Parliaments, allowing AWEPA President Ms. Miet Smet to discuss “What Empowers Women in Parliaments and Parties in Africa?” This discussion highlighted some of the constraints African women face.
The second programme was dedicated to the question of how female Parliamentarians in Europe can support their African counterparts with gender sensitive issues, such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). This was supported by the handing over, and unveiling, of AWEPA’s Guidelines for Parliamentarians – Abandoning Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, presented by National Council President Hon. Barbara Prammer. These guidelines offer all members of Parliament relevant knowledge and resources regarding the fight against FGM.
Hon. Petra Bayr ended the seminar by stressing how women who have broken through the glass ceiling have an obligation to take other women with them, highlighting the importance of cooperation between Parliamentarians to enable the further empowerment of women.