Forum Held to Implement New National Law on Gender Equality
The Parliament of Mongolia has finally adopted the Law on Gender after many years of discussion. The Law on Gender was a significant advance for Mongolia as the law imposed a quota towards establishing equal gender representation in all levels of the country’s establishments.
Some provisions of the law started the implementation process from the day of the law’s adoption, while some provisions related to the quota will go into effect from the start of 2013. Although it is to be praised that we are trying to follow the new law and rules, as of yet we have no mechanism with which to implement them. On the other hand, the Law on Gender has become a symbolic law. That issue was discussed on Wednesday through the multilateral conference themed “Creating a beneficial national mechanism to provide equal gender rights.” The conference was co-organized by the National Network of Women’s NGOs—MONFEMNET, the National Committee on Gender Equality and the Women’s Caucus group in parliament. Conference participants discussed how to compose the nationwide mechanism.
It is a misunderstanding to relate gender only as an issue for protecting the rights of women. This perspective has been left behind. Gender equality is an issue that evaluates men and women without discriminating against them by gender at all levels and in all fields. For example, Mongolia lacks male representatives in education and in the health field. About 80 percent of those fields are filled with women. Men’s gender equality is not being expressed in those fields. Conversely, there are even more fields that male representatives dominate. One of them is the decision-making level, such as establishments within the Parliament and the government. Women have fought for their rights and finally were able to have the 20 percent quota imposed on the Law on Election. Accordingly, nine women were elected in current parliamentary election, which is 12 percent of the total members of Parliament. According to international standards, 30 to 40 percent of the parliament composition should be composed of women. During the conference MP L.Erdenechimeg, the head of the Women Caucus in the parliament, reminded participants that Mongolia [in accordance with its commitment to adhere to UN MDG goals] aims to have women’s attendance at a decision-making level reach 30 percent by 2015. Only three years are left until 2015. The MP stated that the government should pay attention to form mechanisms to provide gender equality.
The government should bear the responsibility to provide factual information for carrying out research on gender discrimination, to relate legislation and policy-making decisions that are gender sensitive and to strengthen the capacity of governmental organizations to form a national system, said MP L.Erdenechimeg.
MP L.Erdenechimeg, leader of the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, answered questions from Unuudur Newspaper.
-While the number of women representatives has been increased in parliament, this number does not meet international standards. What measures should be taken to further implement the Millennium Development Goals?
-Even though the proportion of gender in Mongolia is equal at 50 to 50 percent, women’s representation on a decision-making level is not high enough. There were nine women who were elected to parliament representing Mongolian women, which is an advancement compared to old times, yet it still doesn’t meet the international average index. The average on the international index is 20 percent. According to the UN, the lack of women’s attendance on a decision-making level is taken as evidence of an insufficient democracy. Thus numerous measures should be taken regarding this issue.
The preparation of the law on gender equality that will go into effect from January 2013 should be made. Today’s conference is devoted to draw attention of the government to this issue. Recently our female MPs attended a UN conference titled “Equality in electoral positions” in Thailand. The attendees have reminded us that Mongolia has an insufficient attendance of women representatives at a decision-making level and remarked that it should reach 30 percent by 2016 in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal for gender equality.
-Although the Law on Gender equality has been adopted, we lack the mechanism which to implement it. Local regions still require the structure to implement this law, don’t they?
-There should be a person at the province-level administrations in charge of gender to take on gender equality issues in the countryside. The Governors of the provinces can manage this issue. The ministries also need to create such a position as well. It is really hard for women to become candidates for political parties. The number of women representatives in Parliament is small because women have many barriers to overcome and they have to endure many challenging conditions in order to be elected. The attendance of female representatives will be increased by amending the law on election and by increasing the quota. Measures should be taken to improve the proportional side.
-The quota for women in parliament was not included in the provincial election law. Why was this issue not raised?
-Women’s attendance in local elections has been high. We did participate in the development of the law on local election and discussed the issue of imposing quota for women. We have held conferences and carried out research on the previous elections. Generally, there was found to be a rather high attendance by women in the local elections. More than 40 percent of the candidates tend to be women in these elections.
If we were to impose a quota on the local election law, it would be set at 50 percent. Yet in this political landscape that men dominate, a 50 percent quota imposition in the law would not be supported. It is my hope that many women choose to be candidates in upcoming local election and go on to win the election.
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