„With women, policies are smarter!“

Article, 31.03.2017

On March 20, 2017, the Women in Local Democracy 2  (WiLD 2) project funded by Switzerland and implemented by UNDP Armenia presented results achieved so far. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support attended the event. The participants stressed the huge potential of women and deplored their low representation in political structures.

Magdy Martínez-Solimán (on the left), Ashot Giloyan (on the right)
Magdy Martínez-Solimán (on the left), Ashot Giloyan (on the right) FDFA

„With women, policies are smarter, governments are more popular!“ said Magdy Martínez-Solimán in his opening speech directed to Armenian women politicians and community representatives at the stock-taking event  of the WiLD project in Yerevan, Armenia.

„Every time I look at the gender statistics in Armenia, I get depressed. Every time I meet women politicians I get impressed by their efficiency,“ said Lukas Lüscher, Co-Head of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Yerevan. Women representation in Armenian politics is indeed very low, with 12% at local level and hardly 10% at the national level. There are neither female governors nor city mayors, and not even deputy mayors, although women comprise 52% of the population and 58% of those with higher education.

Ashot Giloyan, Head of the Local Self-Government Department at the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development remained optimistic. He stressed that in 2016 local elections, more women candidates ran for office, and more women candidates got seats. „It means, the more women run, the more they win!“ he concluded. „The quota system introduced only in the biggest cities of Yerevan, Gyumri, and Vanadzor has shown positive results, which shall be spread all over the country,“ Giloyan said.

Women-politicians attending the WiLD 2 project event
Women-politicians attending the WiLD 2 project event © FDFA

Bradley Busetto, the UN Resident Representative to Armenia also identified progress in participation of women in local elections. The post-election 2016 survey done by the WiLD project shows that more women are interested in participating in decision-making processes in local governance. The number of female councilors in the local governance bodies has increased by 24% countrywide in comparison to elections in 2012. 73% of the elected women mayors and local councilors in Syunik and Vayots Dzor regions are participants of the WiLD 2 project.

The path towards more gender-balanced politics in Armenia remains cumbersome because of persisting gender stereotypes, humbleness of women themselves but also many other external factors. Nevertheless, continuous engagement in support of women candidates shows clear benefits already now.