Transforming Politics
Women's Experiences from the Asia-Pacific Region

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We show here only the Table of Contents, the Introduction and the cover. The papers by Patricia Sto. Tomas, Kanwaljit Soin and Rounaq Jahan are also available on the site, as are the two Platforms for Action which have been updated and merged into CAPWIP's Plan of Action
Achieving The Vision of Transformative Politics
. The complete publication is available from CAPWIP for USD 50 including surface postage, USD 60  including airmail postage.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Why Transform Politics?

Transactional Politics in the Public Sector by Patricia Sto. Tomas
Why Women, What Politics by Kanwaljit Soin
The Practice of Transformative Politics by Rounaq Jahan

Part 2: How do we Transform Politics?

Women's Experiences in Transforming Politics

Women's Journals
A Survey of Women's Experiences

Creating a Women's Vote: a campaign for putting women on the political agenda of Pakistan during the election of 1993 by Shahnaz Ahmad
Advocating for Transformative Politics by CAPWIP
Platform for Action 1 and 2 (now revised and merged)
South Asian Women's Voice, and the Kathmandu Declaration (the South Asian Women's Declaration for Equal Political Power)
Women in Politics Pacific Centre and Pacific Platform for Action
Review of CAPWIP


A. Guidelines for Workshop 1: the practice of transformative politics
B. Sample personal journal
C. Guidelines for sub-group synthesis of Workshop 1
D. List of secretariat and participants to the Fourth Asia-Pacific Congress of Women in Politics


Women are half of the world's population but ironically, they have but a whisper if at all any voice in the decision-making and political affairs of most countries. This book is about the attempts being made by women in Asia and the Pacific to change this situation.

Politics has been under the monopoly of men for the longest time in our human history. They, in fact, continue to dominate the corridors of power in governments all over the world. In its 1997 report entitled "Democracy Still in the Making," the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) cited that women comprise only 11.7% of the total Members of Parliament in 167 countries. While some may say that law makers and those in government can consult their constituency both male and female in the process of setting the legislative agenda and in making laws, it is arguable whether men can truly speak for women. This assertion is borne from the fact that societies have different expectations for men and women which determine to a large extent the differences in how they experience life and therefore their view of it. Therefore, the equal participation of women in politics and decision making is foreseen to create a tremendous impact in ensuring that their specific concerns are also prioritized and addressed through the allocation of adequate resources as well as opportunities.

In 1992, a group of women from the Asia-Pacific region decided to come together and dream dreams of women in their countries having equal access to political power and decision-making. This dream led to the establishment of the Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics. CAPWIP is a non-partisan, non-profit and non-governmental organization whose goal is to create a critical mass of competent, committed and effective women politicians in government as well as to develop a responsible women's citizenry. In their First Asia-Pacific Congress of Women in Politics, 237 women from 23 countries discussed and formulated their alternative paradigm for change which they referred to as Transformative Politics.

Transformative politics emphasizes the use of power in creating change, developing people and building communities. It is non-hierarchical and participatory in its structures and processes which prioritizes disadvantaged sectors such as the poor grassroots women in rural and urban areas, and indigenous women. It is therefore development oriented, issue-based and gender responsive. Transformative politics seeks economic, social and political equity between sexes and among sectors in the context of building a society that is just, humane and promotes a way of life that is sustainable.

CAPWIP, although not involved in the direct organizing of women, promotes the paradigm of Transformative Politics through its network of national and sub-regional affiliates in the region. Its annual congress is a venue for its members to discuss issues, generate ideas and share experiences as well as their insights. This is a way by which the women learn from each other while providing mutual support and encouragement. While the previous 3 Congresses did much to elaborate on the need for women to be active participants in politics and decisionmaking, the focus of the 4th Asia-PacificCongress of Women in Politics was in looking at ways transformative politics has been and/or can be applied in various societal institutions.

Transforming Politics is a publication that is intended to be a starting point for reflection and discussion to see how the paradigm of Transformative Politics can be realized in situations which women (and even men) find themselves in. It incorporates most of the presentations and discussions during the 4th Asia-PacificCongress of Women in Politics held last 1-3 September 1997 at Taipei, ROC.

Part 1 discusses the arguments of why women should have equal access to political power and decision-making. Kanwaljit Soin's article on Why Women, What Politics provides insights as to why politics is dominated by men and the impact of perpetuating such inequality. Ms. Soin also presents strategies for getting more women in public and political life.

In her paper Transactional Politics in the Public Sector, Patricia Sto. Tomas abstracts from her own experience as a public servant a set of criteria for determining whether a decision or actidn falls under transactional politics, i.e., using official power for undeserved gain. This set of criteria can be used to analyze one's personal experiences and to draw up practical lessons on how to transform politics.

Rounaq Jahan's paper on The Practice of Transformative Politics examines the paradigm of transformative politics or the feminist vision of political transformation from its evolution in theory to practice. It pays special attention to how dominant political values, processes and institutions should be transformed in consonance with the vision of gender equality.

The second part of this publication focuses on experiences of women in transforming politics from one that is male dominated to one that is sensitive to the issues of women and promotes their empowerment. It features actual stories of women in various institutions and their insights as to how transformative politics can be practiced in a variety of situations. The output of the First Asia-Pacific Congress of Women in Politics, the Platform for Action to Promote Women's Equal Access to Power in the Asia-Pacific Region is also included. Finally, the CAPWIP experience in advocating for transformative politics is looked into along with their medium term goals for the future.

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Updated: February 26, 2008