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The role of women in the international political process – The XII International Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments

In recent years, examples from different countries show that the policy of the 21st century has ceased to be exclusively a male occupation. Women are now not only the object of politics, as the most important part of the electorate, but also active participants in the political process itself. Today, women are more likely to choose a political career because they have everything they need for it: adequate education, thorough knowledge, ambition, and most importantly – a clear desire to realize their opportunities in the most complex political arena. For this reason, the relevance of the issue of the image of the women politician is increasing in many countries. In the early 2000’s after the “left turn” in Latin America, the role of women in political processes has significantly increased. In this sense, Latin America even owns one of the original political records: it is the most significant presence of women in the political sphere. Often, not just women politicians, but political leaders who came to power in the 21st century through popular voting in countries such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil and Chile.

It is worth noting that in Latin America, a political career often has no limits in moving up the career ladder, women occupy about 30% of high state posts in these countries. One of the most important tools for achieving political work for Latin American women has become organizations for the struggle for rights, which, after democratization, began to appear in large numbers in the countries of the region. In the highest representative and state bodies of power in Latin American countries, women have established themselves as far-sighted and pragmatic politicians, often leading responsible posts. In many countries of the region, it is women who are the speakers of the parliament, which was once again proved by the XII International Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments, which was held from the 6th to 7th of December in the Bolivian town of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The international meeting of women speakers of parliaments dates back to 2005 and annually attracts increased attention both from human rights defenders of gender equality and the entire international community, as this summit addresses such pressing issues of our time as the problems of the role of the family, struggle with poverty and hunger, humanitarian missions and others. One of the most important topics of such meetings from year to year is the strengthening of interreligious and interethnic dialogue, support for the resolution on the establishment of an international day of parliamentarism, as a tribute to the most important institutions.

This year, the XII International Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments was not accidentally held in Bolivia, because the role of women in the political process, beginning with the coming to power of the President Evo Morales in 2006, is becoming increasingly significant. The upper chamber (Chamber of Deputies) of the highest representative body of the country – The Plurinational Legislative Assembly – has been headed by Gabriela Montaño since 2015. At the opening ceremony of the summit on the 6th of December, she who made the first welcoming speech, noting that the unification of women and the activation of their activities in the international arena is a timely response to the lack of good and tolerance in the modern world.

This time, in the XII International Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments, the 23 of 38 women took part, who currently head parliaments in the world. At the meeting, the main attention was paid to finding ways to overcome the impasse and accelerate progress towards the presence of women, both in the political life of countries and in parliaments, which currently have only 22% of women from parliamentarians around the world.

The women chairmen of parliament called again to significantly strengthen initiatives related to gender equality through collective action, as well as by defining an agenda for achieving this goal. At the end of the second day of the summit, parliamentary leaders issued a statement entitled “Innovation in the service of gender equality,” in which they stressed that the unity of thought and action is essential for achieving this equality. In the text, they insisted that it is necessary to move forward, fighting and changing the mentality that perpetuates relationships, practices and cultural beliefs that generate inequality. They also stressed that, in addition to more effective exchange of information on gender equality and close inter-state cooperation, another priority and urgent task is to educate youth on gender equality issues.

Within the framework of the summit, the results of the implementation of the Declaration “United for Shaping the Future, for a better world”, adopted in Abu Dhabi on the 13th of December of 2016 at the last meeting of women speakers of parliaments, were repeatedly discussed. It was noted that the promotion of the twenty goals defined in this Declaration is possible only with the combined efforts of all participants.

The Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko could not attend the XII International Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments, however, she sent a welcoming speech, which was read out during the event. She noted that in the Russian Federation in recent years the state has done a lot to ensure the rights of gender equality, this right is enshrined in legislation in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and on the 8th of March of 2017, the Government of the Russian Federation adopted a decree approving the National Action Strategy for Women until 2022. In her address, Valentina Matviyenko stressed that at this stage of world history, women can contribute to the development of parliamentary diplomacy, as well as to a significant weakening of international tension. Women need to use their growing influence to address such acute problems in the international arena as terrorism, global poverty, the spread of illegal migration, and threats to food and environmental security.

The President of the Upper Chamber of The Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia Gabriela Montaño in the closing speech urged the participants to work fruitfully on the agenda, discussing the issues of achieving gender equality, reviewing the implementation of the Declaration on “United for Shaping the Future, for a better world”, and assessing the opportunities and new challenges that each year open up new modern technologies for women.

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