Nelson Mandela

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela

Women’s participation in politics is indispensable to establish and maintain a healthy democracy

Point of View

On September 15, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Democracy. To mark this day, we asked Parliamentarians from both Europe and Africa the following question:

“What do you think the politician’s role is in strengthening the voice of the people in Africa, to establish and maintain a healthy democracy?”


Petra Bayr “As Member of the Austrian Parliament and spokesperson for global Development of the Social Democratic party, I am deeply convinced that women’s participation in politics is indispensable to establish and maintain a healthy democracy. At the moment only about 20 percent of seats in national parliaments in Sub-Saharan Africa are held by women. This rate is unacceptably low. Through education, women must be empowered to participate actively in politics and represent women’s needs and voices in parliaments.
To mention only one issue, I’d like to highlight the importance of the right to sexual self-determination and reproductive health: There is no empowerment of girls and women without the full enjoyment of the right to self-determination. Every single women has the right to decide freely whom she wants to marry and when. Same is applicable for giving birth. No one should be forced to give birth. Every year, an estimated 14 million girls are married before they turn 18. This deprives them of their childhood, education, health and chance to participate actively in politics. No girl should be married off before she turns 18. This is a clear task for members of parliament.”
Hon. Petra Bayr
Member of Austrian Parliament
Spokesperson for global development of the Social Democratic party and Senior Parliamentary Advisor for AWEPA’s FGM/C programme

To read more about our International Day of Democracy special, please click here.