While some countries in Asia and the Pacific have
taken positive actions to promote the participation of women in
governance and decision-making, nowhere in the region are women
proportionately represented in local government, political parties
or urban and rural associations, unless these are women oriented
Even in countries where opportunities for women's
representation and participation exist, women have not been able
to effectively utilize them. The reasons are multiple: patriarchal
social systems, social and cultural prejudices, financial dependence
of women, lack of media support, exposure to political processes
and training opportunities for women, family and child-care responsibilities,
the high cost of seeking and holding office and by the criminalization
These facts notwithstanding, local government is
the only level of government where women can enter political life
with relative ease, as the costs of mounting election campaigns
are relatively low and issues at the local level tend to motivate
women to enter politics. Local governments also are good training
grounds for women politicians who want to reach higher levels of
elected or appointed office in government.
Furthermore, women in decision-making positions
in governments and legislative bodies provide "transformative leadership"
by redefining political priorities, placing new items on the agenda
and providing new perspectives on mainstream issues. Concerted action
at the regional level is required to promote the advancement of
women in local government.
Target beneficiaries and end-users of the project
are women in urban local government and women with aspirations to
enter local politics, local government officials, NGOs and local
and regional institutes supportive of the advancement of women in
- Document the situation and perspectives of women in local government
in selected countries in Central, South, South-East and East Asia.
- Increase the awareness of the transformative
role women can play in local government and the issues and constraints
they face while working with and leading local governments.
The first phase of the project will last for one
year and covers the following countries: Bangladesh, China, India,
Indonesia, Malaysia Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand
and Viet Nam, whereas Japan, Australia and New Zealand will participate
on a self-financed basis.
The project is implemented by the United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women
(UNIFEM), the Network of Local Government Training and Research
Institutes in Asia and the Pacific (LOGOTRI) and the Regional Network
of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements (CITYNET).
Funding for the project has been provided by the Government of Japan
through the Japan-ESCAP Cooperation Fund (JECF) and the Southeast
Asia Gender Equity Program (SEAGEP) of the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA).
- Organizing and convening an Expert Group Meeting, comprising
selected women's organizations and women in local governments
of the participating countries, to discuss preparations of "State
of Women in Local Government" country reports. This meeting
is scheduled to take place from 20 to 21 June 2000 in Nakorn Nayok,
- Preparation and publication of 14 "State of Women in Local Government"
country reports that will include:
- In depth qualitative and comparative analysis of issues
of women's participation and representation in government.
- Relevant gender statistics.
- Steps undertaken by governmental organizations, NGOs, as
well as, political parties, civic society and the media to
increase the roles of women in local government and to gender
sensitize local government.
- Further steps needed to promote the role of women in local
- Profiles of successful elected and appointed women in local
government, emphasizing the factors that contributed to their
success, as well as, hindrances and difficulties they faced.
- A regional "who-is-who" database of individuals and organizations
working on promoting the role of women in local governments.
- Convening the "Asia-Pacific Summit of Women Mayors and Councillors"
in an Asian city governed by a woman mayor. The Summit has been
tentatively re-scheduled for May-June 2001 and will provide a
forum to exchange experience and to review issues, strategies
and approaches for promoting participation and representation
of women in local governments. In addition to elected and appointed
women in local governments, the Summit will include high-level
representatives of national and sub-national governments, political
parties, NGOs as well as academics and researchers working on
women's participation in local government and urban issues more
- Assist women's organizations and women in local government to
develop a Regional Resource Facility that would promote and coordinate
actions to increase the participation and representation of women
in local governments, particularly in urban local governments.
A grant would be provided to this resource facility to leverage
additional funding to continue its work and responsibilities that
would cover among others:
- Exchange of experience and information among those interested
in issues concerning women in local government by establishing
and maintaining interactive e-mail and Internet based network.
- Coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the regional
actions in support of country level actions.
- Advocating the role of women in local governments at various
regional and international forums.
In case you would like to receive more information on this project,
you may address your queries to:
Dr. Nibhon Debavalya
Population and Rural
and Urban Development Division
Tel: + 66 2 288 1512
Fax: + 66 288 1009
Human Settlements Section
Population and Rural and Urban
Tel + 66 2 288 1600
Fax + 66 288 1097
Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
United Nations Building
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue