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Gender partnership: What the IPU is doing

Conference logoHeld just weeks before the 1997 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Specialized Inter-Parliamentary Conference on the theme Towards Partnership between Men and Women in Politics was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in New Delhi from 14-18 February 1997 on the invitation of the Parliament of India. The Conference was the first worldwide political meeting on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, and was entirely devoted to one of the chapters of the Beijing Platform for Action.


  • Partnership between men and women in politics, a new social contract for politics which respects the dual nature of the composition of society as a whole - Ways and means to achieve this partnership
  • Positive experience of a more balanced sharing of political responsibilities between men and women and proposals in order to achieve such a balanced sharing - going beyond mere recognition of the current democratic deficit and analysis of obstacles to the practice of partnership
  • Women's political and electoral training
  • Financing women's electoral campaigns
  • The image of women politicians in the media.

When preparing the Conference, the IPU urged that all parliamentary delegations be composed as far as possible of an equal number of men and women. The result was indeed remarkable: the meeting brought together an equal number of men and women, ranging from political leaders to MPs and experts from NGOs.

After four days of lively debates, fruitful exchanges, relentless questioning and mutual enrichment, the participants agreed that New Delhi Declarationwomen's arrival on the political stage would not lead to the exclusion of men, as some fear, but rather to the strengthening of the democratic process. This idea was given special emphasis in the Conference President's concluding statement known as the New Delhi Declaration.

Beyond "technical" recommendations on the best ways to train women to exercise their political rights, to run an electoral campaign, obtain clean funds or deal with the media, the Conference showed that women are becoming keen to assume and exercise their political responsibilities to the full. The Conference identified vital tools to advance the necessary changes, call the status quo into question and develop a new social contract from which society as a whole will benefit. Stamp

As a tribute to the Conference, the Indian Government released a special stamp as well as coins embodying the concept of "partnership" in the symbol of a man and woman. The coins and stamp have become part of the collection of the National Museum of India (New Delhi).

Orient-Occident CD The IPU wished to involve artists in its reflection on gender partnership for democracy. This is how a Swiss composer Mr. D. Barthassat presented in New Delhi the world première of an "Acoustic Mandala" symbolizing male and female energies, and joined with Indian musicians Mr. Aman Ali Khan, Mr. Shafaad Ahmad Khan and Mr. Babbra in an Orient-Occident dialogue on Raga Durga, an Indian traditional piece. A compact disk was later issued.

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