Networking women leaders

A GUEST POST BY WENDY ALEXANDERI ended my last post with this question: with more women ministers globally – is it time to network them better?

For the first time women in every EU member state hold leading positions in their executives and in their legislatures. Better networking can help resist those reactionary forces who believe that because times are tough we should put equality on the backburner.

Each EU Presidency usually hosts at least one Ministerial informal Equality meeting, but gender is not necessarily discussed. Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader has rightly argued it is time for a formal mechanism which brings together Ministers with responsibility for women so that they can collectively progress the rights of the nearly 250 million women in all 27 Member States.

Globally the UN plays an important role in championing the rights of women and setting global standards. Encouragingly the recent UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a new consolidated gender entity body to progress issues concerning women. We now need to make this a reality.

Historically international fora have been more successful at identifying the problems of underdevelopment rather than bringing women leaders together to work together to provide the solutions.

We need new mechanisms to share good practice about the best ideas to build a fairer and more prosperous post-recession future. From the UK we could share some of the good ideas in the current Equality Bill, which will hopefully reach the statute books before the next election. Its positive action provisions will enable employers to increase the number of women in their workforce and at senior levels; and shine a spotlight on inequalities in pay, including banning widespread ‘secrecy clauses’ which prevent colleagues from comparing their wages.

The Equality Bill also has a range of other measures specifically designed to tackle the continuing under-representation of women in politics. But this is a subject for another post!

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