Crans Montana African Women’s Forum

On Friday, 21 March 2014 Silvana Koch-Mehrin hosted a session on “The Growing Role of Women in Parliaments in Africa” in the framework of the Crans Montana African Women’s Forum.

Speakers at the session were:

  • Ms Maia Panjikidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia
  • Ms Thandi Cecilia Memela, Dep. Speaker, National Council of Provinces, South Africa
  • Ms Anne-Marie Lizin, Hon. Speaker of the Senate, Belgium
  • Ms Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Dep. Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat

One of the outcomes of this special session was the agreement echoed by all participants that having more women in decision-making positions has a significant impact in Africa and worldwide. For Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, there is a clear understanding that something changes when more women are empowered. However, “more tools to calculate the real impact of women in parliaments are needed”, she said during her speech.

Anne-Marie Lizin, Hon. Speaker of the Senate of Belgium, said that “the law changes when there are more women in Parliaments”, because Parliaments with more female representation are addressing issues related to women’s rights, gender quotas and reproductive rights.

Furthermore, the importance of more women in top positions to tackle negative gender stereotypes was raised by the panel: “women representation is not only about balancing the statistics, but about transforming gender stereotypes” said Thandi C. Memela, Deputy Speaker of the National Council of Provinces in South Africa.