Women in Decision-Making:
Meeting Challenges, Creating Change
"By effectively increasing the impact of women on public life at all levels, the potential for change towards gender equality and empowerment of women and a more democratic and just society is increased."
—Report of the UN Secretary-General on equal participation of women and men in decision-making
processes at all levels, December 2005 ( E/CN.6/2006/13)
In 1995, the Beijing Platform for Action identified women in power and decision-making as one of its critical areas of concern and outlined concrete actions to be taken by governments, the private sector, academic institutions, regional bodies and non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations system to increase women's access and full participation in power structures and decision-making.
In most countries, women around the world are meeting the challenges of leadership, and contributing to change in their communities, countries and in the international arena in very real ways. Women have held public office at various levels of government, have initiated and led grass-roots organizations, and are present in virtually every professional field and in the private sector.
Yet while progress is being made towards the equality of women and men in decision-making at all levels, the pace is slow. Women continue to remain under-represented at all levels of decision-making and their achievements all too often remain invisible and unacknowledged, their voices unheard. Much more needs to be done, not only to accelerate the inclusion of women into formal decision-making bodies, but also to increase their impact in decision-making.
"[W]omen's equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for simple justice or democracy, but can also be seen as a necessary condition for women's interest to be taken into account. Without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women's perspective at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development, and peace can not be achieved."
— Beijing Platform for Action
By building strong foundations for leadership and strong networks, representing women's perspectives in decision-making circles, and seizing opportunities for change, women are meeting the challenges they face in creating the change necessary to achieve equality with men in decision-making at all levels.
A panel discussion on this topic will mark the United Nations official observance of International Women's Day on 8 March 2006 . The panel will bring together women of different regions who will illustrate how women in decision-making positions make a difference and create change.
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