The Missing SDG Indicators: Accelerating gender equality and empowerment

Women leaders in India, where the constitution dictates that one third of seats in local entities are reserved for women. Photo by: Gangajit Singh Chandok / U.N. Women / CC BY-NC-ND

To achieve a world “in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social, and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed,” will require political action — leadership, commitment and accountability. The U.N.’s “Transforming Our World” sustainable development framework, which will be adopted by the General Assembly in the coming days, is the latest call to action. We will all be judged on what we do over the next 15 years to make that ambition into an empowered reality for women and girls. Sustainable development goal 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” expands significantly on the Millennium Development Goals by detailing in a single goal a full range of issues and actions that will drive success. However, in the proposed indicators, which anchor accountability for the new global framework, critical metrics for women’s participation in political life and public decision-making are missing.

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A Look Back at our International Democracy Day Tweettalk

In recognition of International Day of Democracy, NDI partnered with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to host an online discussion. Kenneth Wollack, president of NDI, Michael D. Svetlik, vice president for programs at IFES, and Tom Garrett, vice president for programs at IRI, answered eight democracy-related questions posed by @CEPPS and other TweetTalk participants. Using the hashtag #DemTalk, respondents discussed both general shifts in democratic trends across the world and specific examples of programs that create “space for civil society” -- the theme of this year’s Democracy Day.

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Creating Space for Civil Society Through Technology and Open Data

Credit: Isabela Bernal - Las2Orillas / NDI Colombia

Today is International Day of Democracy, a day meant to inspire reflection and celebration of the principles of democracy worldwide. This year’s theme, “Space for Civil Society,” serves as a reminder that a strong and active civil society is necessary for resilient democracy. This year’s theme is also a reaction to the fact that civil society faces serious challenges globally. Since the early 2000s, authoritarian regimes have used new methods to limit the ability of civil society to protect the rights of citizens, demand accountability from government and engage in public policy. These limitations extend to the Internet and social media; authoritarian regimes continue to curtail political speech and monitor political dissent online. But just as autocratic regimes are imposing these limitations, civil society is adopting new technologies and using open government data to create new civic space and work in parallel with the interests of open, inclusive government. NDI is supporting these efforts by assisting civil society groups in the creation of international norms and standards for legislative openness and open election data.

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Five Photos That Uncover the Meaning of Democracy

Credit: Marie-Ève Bilodeau

To celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, we asked NDI staff, who support democracy worldwide, to share a photograph that best represents the answer to the question: “What does democracy mean to you?” NDI staff are from more than 60 countries, spanning five continents. Over 100 thought-provoking images were submitted by photographers from all around the world, but the following five stood out.

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Four New Resources for Strengthening Citizen Access

At a constituency dialogue event in Cambodia, a participant displays his electricity bill to show members of the National Assembly how expensive energy is in his village, and asks them for a solution to rising costs. NDI helped organize the constituency dialogue event. (Photo by NDI's Chhiv Kimsrun)

Citizen access and influence in political decision-making can vary across identity groups. NDI programming helps citizens expand civic space and streamline processes to enhance their own political participation, with a cross-cutting priority to support the inclusion of historically marginalized populations. This past month’s resources discussed the need to lower barriers to voter registration for people with disabilities, how to partner with faith-based organizations and religious leaders, and the use of ICTs in women’s empowerment. In August, the Citizen Participation team and the Political Parties team organized a ‘TweetTalk’ on what political parties can do to include youth in the political process.

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The Next Big Step for Campaigns: Taking Mobile Canvassing Technology on the Road

A party organizer practices voter canvassing through a door-to-door exercise as part of an NDI political party training on July 29, 2015. Photo credit: Munira Aziz, NDI Afghanistan

Canvassing, an organized system of face-to-face citizen outreach, has long been used by politicians and advocacy groups to encourage constituents to vote, assess the habits and preferences of voters, and gather public opinion data. The time-honored tradition of knocking on doors remains an integral part of campaigns, though new mobile technology is starting to change the way canvassers operate on the ground.

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Crowdsourcing Ideas: International Youth Day TweetTalk on Youth and Political Parties

NDI’s Citizen Participation and Political Parties teams hosted an online discussion called a TweetTalk on International Youth Day last week. Participants shared ideas and examples of how political parties can support youth political participation through the hashtag “#YouthParty” on Twitter.

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Four New Resources for Enhancing Civic Space and Inclusion

Photo credit: Mosa'ab Elshamy

Supporting citizens to enhance their civic voice, expanding space for political participation and improving government accountability are interrelated objectives for NDI programs. Each week, the Citizen Participation team shares a resource with NDI staff that provides innovative perspectives and new research for working towards those objectives. Reflecting the recently announced theme for International Democracy Day 2015, “Space for Civil Society,” this month’s resources contribute to a growing body of literature on how to measure and expand civic space and challenge the outcomes-based approach to policymaking and instead emphasize the importance of inclusive decision-making.

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Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show Made Politics Cool Again…and Young People Followed

Parazit co-host Kambiz Hosseini and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart on the set of The Daily Show  (Photo: Kambiz Hosseini).

Though the studio lights have dimmed for the last time on Jon Stewart’s tenure as host of The Daily Show, his brand of political satire -- which aimed to keep leaders accountable, the media honest and youth interested in government -- shines on through its immense success with young audiences at home and abroad. The Daily Show sparked a new era of political satire, a step beyond the traditional editorial cartoon, satirical magazine and occasional political joke on late-night television. In the United States, Stewart’s style of “fake news” revolutionized not only satire in (and of) the media, but how youth engage with politics.

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Financing Gender Equity: “Money Matters” in Addis Ababa

NDI’s Layla Moughari helps members of parliament log into a questionnaire about their role in domestic resource mobilization. (Photo credit: Aretha Francis, Women in Parliaments Global Forum)

NDI co-organized a panel on July 13, on the role of parliamentarians in using “domestic resource mobilization” to advance gender equality as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Domestic resource mobilization refers to the use of a country’s public and private funds -- including tax revenues -- to finance development goals. Globally, significant domestic resources that could be spent to support gender equality and empowerment are lost every year through corruption, corporate tax evasion and inefficient tax collection systems.

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