Platform for Action 2
Promoting the Empowerment of
the Women Electorate

to Third A-P Congress

Women in Politics is not just about getting women into elective and appointive positions in government. It is also about getting half of the world's population to assert their rights and exercise their responsibilities for their own welfare and future, and that of their children and the generations that will follow.

It is these rights and responsibilities of the women electorate that was the focus of the Third Asia-Pacific Congress of Women in Politics held on 21 - 24 November 1996 in Fiji. As its theme "The Power of the Women Electorate" suggests, the Congress sought to highlight the critical role of the women citizenry in realizing their vision of transformed and transformational politics.

Coming after Beijing, the Third Asia-Pacific Congress sought to elaborate on the often-overlooked role of the women electorate. The women electorate are primarily the source of support of the women in elective and appointive positions in government. They have the power to vote into office those they think are deserving of the positions. They also have the power to help those in office realize their respective agendas. Thus, developing a responsible women electorate is crucial in order to realize the vision of Transformative Politics.

Our Vision of the Women Electorate

We envision the women electorate as participating continuously on a daily basis in decision-making and implementation at all levels.

We envision the women electorate as:

Our Vision of Responsible Women Citizenship in
Transformative Politics

Expounding on Our Vision of Transformed and Transformational Politics:

A. This Platform for Action reaffirms a number of strategies and actions already adopted under the First Platform for Action (1994). To wit,

A.1. Developing and advocating the women's agenda

a. Existing concepts and frameworks for power and politics should be carefully reviewed from a gender-conscious perspective, and viable alternatives should be presented by women in politics.

b. Research studies should be carried out on women and politics in the Asia-Pacific region which will serve as a basis for the development of the women's agenda.

c. Women should mobilize world public opinion to protest against the misuse of religion to suppress the fundamental rights of women in the Asia-Pacific region.

d. Existing laws should be reviewed and amended; and new ones should be formulated which will positively impact on women and the girl child.

e. In view of the emerging economic world order, there is a need to study how women will be affected and make necessary policy recommendations to governments and help prepare women for the coming changes.

A.2. Advocating for electoral reforms.

a. Women should work for clean politics as characterized by increased transparency and accountability of public officials.

b. The concept of electoral reform which will ensure the genuine participation of different women sectors, including indigenous women, should be developed.

A.3. Undertake research studies on women and politics in the Asia-Pacific region to provide empirical data which will serve as basis for women's effective participation in decision-making at all levels. Areas to be covered include:

a. Data on women in decision-making and on transformational women politicians;

b. Documentation of the attitudes of women and men towards politics;

c. Documentation of the impact of the electoral system on women in politics;

d. Root causes of conflicts and the potential power of women in peace-building and conflict resolution.

A.4. Networking and solidarity building.

a. Women should organize and establish networks among themselves, achieve unity and consensus on common causes, and exercise influence on decision-making processes as pressure groups.

b. Organizing and networking should be done at all levels from the grassroots/local to the national and inter-regional levels.

c. International solidarity of women's groups should be strengthened, particularly those with programmes for women in politics, to establish mutual support and venues for the exchange of experiences.

d. Relations among Asia-Pacific women involved in politics should be strengthened by:

B. In addition to those listed above, new actions were articulated which specifically focused on the women electorate. These are:

B.1. Achieving legal and political literacy. Women should achieve legal and political literacy to enable them to influence political, economic and social decisions, processes and systems, and work towards seeking accountability from elected representatives on their commitment to gender concerns.

a. Awareness raising and education for equality.

b. Improving access to information.

c. Collaborating with Media.

B.2. Transforming the household and reconciling family and public life.

a. A redistribution of roles and parenting responsibilities within the family should be promoted so that women may participate in public spheres and activities. Measures must be taken to reconcile family and professional life.

b. Family law should be reformed towards a common civil code upholding the dignity of women as equal partners with men in the family, including removing gender inequities in matters of divorce, custody and property rights, preferably where the initiative comes from the women in the concerned community.

c. Review national laws, including customary laws and legal practices in the areas of amity, civil, penal, labour and commercial law in order to ensure the implementation of the principles and procedures of all relevant international human rights instruments by means of national legislation; revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex and remove gender bias in the administration of justice.

d. Family counseling centers may be promoted with non-governmental organization and community involvement and operated by trained personnel and with adequate financial support.

B.3. Promoting women's human rights and equality before the law because women's rights are integral to the concept of human rights, non-discriminatory laws in all areas of public and private life need to be established.

a. A wide range of means should be used to promote awareness of women's human rights and the importance of their full and equal participation in government, administration, the law, trade unions and employer groups and community groups.

b. In matters of citizenship and nationality of spouses and children, discrimination against women should be eliminated.

c. Immigrant women and children should be protected from abuse or denial of their human rights by resident spouses; within the limits of national legislation, consider extending their stay should the family relationship dissolve.

d. In the context of armed conflict, women should be protected from violations of their human rights and all forms of structural violence.

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Dated: 26Oct2000