(New York, 7 June 2000)

The following "Twelve suggestions for parliamentary follow-up to Beijing+5" were discussed at the Tripartite Consultation on "Democracy through partnership between men and women" which was organized by the IPU in cooperation with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, on the occasion of the Beijing+5 Special session of the United Nations General Assembly. This document has since been promoted by the IPU.

To support governmental efforts to implement the Beijing Platform for Action, a number of measures and actions could be considered as follows:

Information of Parliament

1. Governments should formally refer to parliament the Beijing Platform for Action, the Outcome of the Special Session of the General Assembly and, as appropriate, the conclusions of the preparatory regional meetings of the Session.

Setting up of a non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive legislative framework

2. Governments and parliaments should take further sustained action to strengthen and develop the legal framework conducive to the implementation of gender equality provisions in all fields. Particular attention should be given to the repealing of discriminatory legislation, in accordance with the definition of discrimination contained in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action.

Budgetary resources

3. Parliaments should vote the appropriations required to implement administrative initiatives aimed at gender equality. In particular, adequate resources in national budgets for national machinery for the advancement of gender equality should be put in place to enable them to implement their mandates.

4. Governments should systematically include a gender perspective in their budgetary proposals. Similarly, mechanisms for a parliamentary reading of the budget from a gender perspective should be systematically developed.

Parliamentary mechanisms for follow-up to the Beijing Process

5. Action should be taken to ensure that the Beijing commitments are referred, as appropriate, to all parliamentary committees concerned.

6. One way of ensuring the monitoring of progress in implementing the Beijing commitments of the Beijing Platform for Action may be the establishment of parliamentary committees on gender issues. Such committees should, if possible, include an equal number of men and women. They should aim at ensuring that debate on the Beijing Platform for Action and its follow-up will take place in all sectors and fields.

Raising awareness and fuelling public debate

7. Individual members of parliament should be encouraged to fuel public debate on the issues covered by the Beijing Platform for Action and its follow-up, and should relay the views of the electorate to parliament on these issues, as appropriate.

8. Parliaments with no or very few women members should be made sensitive to gender issues. Action in this regard should be taken by national governments and national mechanisms, the IPU, the regional parliamentary assemblies and NGOs.

9. Parliaments should be rendered particularly sensitive to gender issues in countries where budgetary austerity policies or war-related difficulties may relegate such issues to a lower level of priority.

Enhancing women's political participation

10. Parliaments should take all possible action to promote women's political participation. To that end, efforts should be made to remove electoral laws that are women-unfriendly and to develop electoral mechanisms that facilitate the election of women, as recommended by the IPU in its Plan of Action to Correct Present Imbalances in the Participation of Men and Women in Politics.

11. Internal organisational measures should be taken to facilitate women's participation in parliament and to ensure a balance between the professional and family obligations of their members. Furthermore, action should be taken to ensure that a fair proportion of women form part of the governing bodies of parliament and are presiding officers of parliamentary committees.

12. Parliamentarians, as members of political parties, should encourage party structures to open up their ranks to women and remove political and electoral practices that are women-unfriendly. In particular, political parties should, where appropriate, amend their statutes and rules to facilitate women's access to their leadership structures. Political parties should also encourage the selection of more women to stand as candidates in local, national and regional elections.

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