Testing City Limits: Women and Urban Governance

Shari Bryan speaks on a panel on urbanization and the challenges of local government and citizen engagement in New Delhi, March 2015.

Cities, for the first time in history, are now home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population. This is an incredible demographic shift, and in their rise to prominence, urban centers have begun to shape national and global-level discussions. After all, there are now megacities in Asia and Latin America with larger populations than some European countries. These megacities drive more than 70 percent of the world’s economic activity, and some of their local governments are acting across national borders to strike their own trade deals and address climate change issues.

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They Say ‘Why Women’s Political Empowerment?’ and I say ‘What Else?’

Credit: Davit Tomadzea

Georgia lags behind most European countries when it comes to women’s political participation. Only 12 percent of the members of the parliament are women and only 11 percent of those in local councils are women. That is a just a 5 percent and 1 percent improvement respectively compared to parliamentary and local council elections in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Out of 12 directly elected mayors of self-governing cities, not one is a women and all 63 directly elected governors are men. Women make up only 17 percent of the Cabinet of Ministers.

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Votes without Violence: Strengthening Electoral Integrity

NDI’s domestic observation partner in Nigeria, TMG, reported that 1 in 4 election officials for the 2015 presidential and legislative elections were women.  

There’s something new in the Gender, Women and Democracy (GWD) program at NDI. In evaluating existing programming within the democracy and governance community, the GWD team found a gap. As we examined the social, political, and economic barriers preventing women from participating fully in democratic governance, we found that one such barrier -- violence against women in elections (VAW-E) -- was absent from the conversation, largely because it had not been distinguished from wider studies of electoral violence. So, in partnership with NDI’s election team, and with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, GWD is putting VAW-E on the map.

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Albright honors Afghan women changing status quo

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright greets Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani at the National Democratic Institute's 2015 Madeleine K. Albright Luncheon. Credit: Chan Chao

Each year, NDI awards its Madeleine K. Albright Grant to an organization outside of the United States that defies the odds to give women the tools to participate and lead as equal and active partners in their communities.

At the Madeleine K. Albright luncheon this week in Washington, D.C., the former Secretary of State and NDI’s chairman presented this year’s award to the Worker Women Social Organization (WWSO) of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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First Lady Rula Ghani to Speak at Madeleine K. Albright Luncheon on Afghanistan’s Future for Women

Rula Ghani, first lady of Afghanistan speaks at a Symposium on Women’s Rights and Empowerment. Credit: Norway MFA/ Kilian Munch

In the last 30 years, Afghanistan has emerged from Soviet occupation, fallen into a crippling civil war, and faced brutal and oppressive rule by the Taliban. During this violent period, women were barred from public life. They were prohibited from working, banned from running for political office, and even shot for attending school. But since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s women have made significant strides for equality.

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Senator Mikulski will give remarks on her 45 years as a trailblazer for women’s political participation

Senator Barbara Mikulski speaks at NDI's 2012 International Leadership Forum luncheon honoring former vice presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro.

On May 12, Mikulski will give special remarks at NDI’s annual Madeleine K. Albright Luncheon, which honors a grassroots women’s organization promoting the participation of women and girls in politics.

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TweetTalk: Gender, Women & Political Parties

As part of the celebration of International Women’s Day 2015, NDI’s Political Parties and Gender, Women and Democracy teams held a crowdsourcing and networking event on Twitter called a “TweetTalk” to share ideas, best practices and lessons learned when helping to engage more women in political parties.

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Women's Political Participation: A Critical Step for Economic Empowerment

Late last month, a guest on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show told him: “Wherever we go...there is always something” stopping women from following their dreams. The guest? Not a firebrand feminist, but the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde. Her comments came as the IMF released a new report detailing the positive effect women’s economic empowerment has on our world: in short, when women are able to participate in the economy as equal members of the labor force, life improves for everyone. This may not be shocking new information—at least for those of us interested in the topic—but the report presents much-needed evidence to support its findings.

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In Discussion on Gender and Decision-Making, Only One Gender Represented

Glancing around the room, it seemed that the Feb. 24 event that NDI’s Gender, Women and Democracy (GWD) team put on had a great turnout. About 60 people from the federal government, academic institutions, multilateral organizations and NGOs were present. Despite the impressive attendance, one startling detail caught my attention as everyone took their seats: nearly everyone was a woman – there was one man on the panel and only two male guests in the audience. This, to me, spoke volumes about the state of the movement for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

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