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GENDER EQUALITY AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN ELECTIONS
23.11.2021
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Gender equality and women’s participation in political processes are growing in Uzbekistan. Undoubtedly, this situation is also observed in the election process.

In recent years, the issue of gender equality in Uzbekistan has risen to the level of public policy.

To date, 25 pieces of legislation in this area have been adopted. The establishment of new structures within the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan , such as the Committee on Women’s Right and Gender Equality, the Ministry for Support of Makhalla and Family, the Republican Women’s Public Council have become the only integrated mechanism for ensuring women’s rights and gender equality in Uzbekistan .

It should be noted that for the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, the number of women in the national parliament has reached the level set by the United Nations.

Our country’s Parliament has risen to 37th place among 190 world’s national parliaments in terms of the number of women.

As a continuation of the ongoing reforms in the country to ensure women’s rights and gender equality, we can see the «Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality in Uzbekistan until 2030» adopted at the 15th plenary session of the Senate this year.

This document has developed in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the law «Оn guarantees of equal rights and opportunities for women and men», the priorities of the country’s development identified in the Action Strategy on Five Development Priority Areas 2017-2021 of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the National Sustainable Development Goals and other legislation for the period up to 2030. The strategy also promotes the implementation of the Beijing Declaration, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality is mainly implemented in a number of priorities to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women and men.

It should be noted that the creation of equal voting rights and opportunities for women and men is one of the priorities of this document. In particular, paragraph 1 of chapter 4 of the Strategy «Priorities for the implementation of the gender strategy» is entitled «Ensuring equal voting rights and opportunities for women and men».

What measures are envisaged in the Strategy to achieve these goals?

First, to encourage the involvement of political parties in the electoral process on an equal footing with women and men and to recommend women for leadership positions;

Second, to monitor the creation of equal rights and opportunities for women and men in the nomination of political parties in the elections to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the republic of Uzbekistan, the Jokargy Kenes of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, local kengashes of people’s deputies;

Third, to change the negative attitudes formed in society towards women by increasing their political activism;

Fourth, to analyze the full observance of the right of women and men to elect and be elected to representative bodies of state power;

Fifth, to ensure equality of women and men in the composition of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan, regional, district, city and district election commissions for elections and referendum.

Based on the above-mentioned measures, the CEC has developed 11 indicators to monitor the equal participation of women and men in all stages of the election and has been implementing them since the election campaign of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan this year.

What indicators characterize these indicators?

According to the single electronic voter list, 10,399,854 or 52,4% of the voters were women.

103 (39%) of the 266 members of district election commissions conducting elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and 76,070 (46.4%) of 142,044 precinct election commissions are women. Currently, 7 out of 21 members of the Central Election Commission (33.3%) are women.

At the same time, 15 out of 74 proxies of candidates for President of the Republic of Uzbekistan (20%) and 22,420 (42%) out of 53,717 observers of political parties were women.

In addition, observers from the Citizens’ Self-Government Bodies, of whom 3,834 out of 10,733, or 36%, were women, monitored the voting process in the polling stations.

During the election campaign, 1,672 local and foreign media representatives were accredited. The fact that 476 of them (28.5%) are women shows that women are also interested in covering the election process.

From the above given data, it can be seen that the role of women in the electoral process is increasing not only as a participant but also as an organizer.

These indicators were highlighted in the Preliminary Results and Conclusions Statement issued by the International Election Observation Mission (OSCE/ODIHR and PA, European Parliament) on 25 October 2021.

Moreover, in accordance with the Strategy, it is planned to achieve the following results by fulfilling the tasks set in this regard:

First, the practice of appointing women to senior positions in higher and lower government bodies will be expanded;

Second, women are widely involved in the electoral process by encouraging political parties.

The Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality in Uzbekistan until 2030 envisages a comprehensive approach to the implementation of the principle of equality between women and men in all areas of decision-making and implementation.

The Strategy also serves to create conditions for the realization of equal rights and opportunities for men and women, as well as to promote gender equality in economic, political and social life in order to respect fundamental human rights.

Particular attention was paid to ensuring the inclusiveness of the presidential election process, including the support of women’s active participation in elections.

The CEC is implementing a number of projects to ensure gender equality and support the active participation of women in society.

In particular, the CEC jointly with the UNDP in Uzbekistan held a seminar-training in the series «Elections and Gender: International and National Practices in Support of Women in Politics» in the framework of the joint project «Support to the electoral process in Uzbekistan in 2019-2021».

The training, which took place in October this year, was aimed at raising the level of professional knowledge of women’s participation in the election process at all stages of the preparation and conduct of elections served to further increase participation opportunities.

The first seminar training was held in offline format for participants from city of Tashkent and Tashkent Region. The Chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan Z.Nizamkhodjayev, the Swiss Ambassador to Uzbekistan K.Obolensky, the UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan M.Dimovska, the First Deputy Minister of Neighborhood and Family G.Marufova attended the series of training seminars.    

Next five training seminars were held online, covering participants from all regions of the country.   

Participants learned about gender equality in politics and international standards in the field of elections. A special session on «Elections and gender in Uzbekistan: key aspects of legislation» was held. The topic of «Gender Quota and Equal Opportunities in Society» aroused great interest among the session participants. Participants noted that gender quotas do not limit voter choice and support increasing the number of women in electoral bodies to address gender issues effectively at the legislative level. During group discussions, participants showed high activity.

A separate training event was organized for representatives of the Republican Information Center «Istikbolli Avlod» (14 regional branches).

The curriculum, which includes a special guide on gender, is designed to train participants in gender equality, international standards and electoral procedures in elections. The program also provided participants with an opportunity to learn about the electoral process through a «Gender Prism». 

During the assessment process, participants noted the importance of the training as it helped them gain new information and look at gender equality from a different perspective.

The knowledge gained during the training course increased the participants’ understanding of gender equality and international standards and best practices in this field. It should be noted that the training course will help to identify the next steps in the future to encourage the direct participation of women not only in the electoral process, but also in politics.

Gulnoza RAHIMOVA,

Republic of Uzbekistan

Of the Central Election Commission

The member working on a permanent basis