Letter from the Secretary-General

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Commission on the Status of Women

Measuring Gender Inequality in Public and Private Spheres with an Emphasis on Decision-Making Mechanisms

Letter from the Secretary-General

Dear Participants,

I would like to welcome you all to EuroAsia Model United Nations Training and Development Conference 2013. My name is Fatma Betül Bodur and I am a junior at Ankara University Faculty of Law.

Organized under the auspices of Model United Nations Association of Turkey, as a method to fulfil its mission to familiarize MUN-related activities country-wide; EuroAsia MUN 2013 continues the tradition of eight years to host a wide range of delegates from beginners to be introduced to MUN for the first time; to those who are experienced in MUN, seeking a unique opportunity to develop in the field. This year, nine committees will be simulated in EuroAsia MUN; each chosen delicately to appeal to its participants from different levels and areas of academic studies and interest.

Commission on the Status of Women will discuss the agenda item Measuring Gender Inequality in Public and Private Spheres with an Emphasis on Decision-Making Mechanisms. This study guide and the academic structure of the Committee have been prepared by the respected Under-Secretary-General Ms. Rena Haşimi. Prepared by her talent, hard-work and wisdom; the study guide serves as a perfect first step to comprehend this particular agenda of utmost importance in global scale.

I advise the participants to read the study guide thoroughly. You may also check further readings and key documents which are found on our website. As a whole, the documents presented by the Academic Team will provide you the awareness which is required so as to follow the discussions within the Committee and fully enjoy Model United Nations.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via bodur@muntr.org.


Fatma Betül Bodur

Secretary-General of EuroAsia MUN 2013

Letter from the Under-Secretary-General

Dear Prospective Participants,

It is my sincerest honour to welcome you all to the Commission on the Status of Women of the eighth annual session of EuroAsia MUN 2013.

I am Rena Haşimi. I am a junior at Bilkent University Faculty of Law and also continuing International Relations as a minor program. Besides from having the utmost enthusiasm from law, I have always been highly interested in international relations and politics, and thanks to MUN, I have been enjoying with the global matters more than ever. After having been participated to various conferences as a committee director, an academic and the organization team member, a delegate and a judge, now I have the pleasure of serving as you in the secretariat of EuroAsia 2013.

This year the committee deals with Measuring Gender Inequality in Public and Private Spheres with an Emphasis on Decision-Making Mechanisms. Therefore finding a solution for such an enduring problem of the whole international community will make EuroAsia MUN 2013 an unforgettable event in your MUN journey by assisting you with the necessary competitive debate environment, which you can improve your research, debate and declamation skills.

As a member of Academic Team, I feel the need to express that we have worked tremendously hard for providing you a simulation which in fact will challenge your eloquence as well as enhancing your understanding of diplomatic relations between the states. I hope that you will enjoy debating on the case and find a chance to develop your skills as a delegate.

Should you have any inquiries concerning the Commission on the Status of Women of EuroAsia MUN 2013, please do not hesitate to contact me through hasimi@muntr.org. I look forward to meeting you all in Ankara.


Rena Haşimi

Under-Secretary-General responsible for CSW and UNDP


The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW, the Commission) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women through identifying challenges, setting global standards and formulating concrete policies in political, economic, civil, social, and educational fields1. The Commission also makes recommendations to ECOSOC on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.2

The Commission consists of one representative from each of the forty five Member States elected by ECOSOC on the basis of equitable geographical distribution: thirteen members from Africa; eleven from Asia; nine from Latin America and Caribbean; eight from Western Europe and other States and four from Eastern Europe3. Members are elected for a period of four years.

The Commission plays a catalytic role in promoting gender mainstreaming at national level and within the United Nations system. Its work has led to increased efforts to mainstream a gender perspective into the work of other functional commissions of ECOSOC, the work of the General Assembly on the human rights of women, as well as the work of the Security Council on women, peace and security.4



"Gender equity" is one of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Project5; which claims that, "Every single Goal is directly related to women's rights, and societies where women are not afforded equal rights as men, can never achieve development in a sustainable manner."6

According to United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), gender equality "means that “women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike."7

Given the definition of gender equality, the question of why the world needs gender equality comes to mind. The decision of the World Conference on Women in 1995 supports that, “The failure of including women in positions of power and influence is a waste of human creativity and energy that is increasingly unaffordable.”8 The participation of all citizens is central to democracy and thereby to any concept of peace.9 Equalizing the decision-making process is served by mainstreaming women in decision-making.10 Therefore, international community still seeks for a solution in ensuring gender equality in the decision making mechanisms.

In light of these, to equalize genders in the decision making process, one of the problems in considering the question of ‘making a difference’ is the distinction between ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ may tend to be blurred; since gender equality is been trying to be implemented for decades in different regions, a possible solution requires short term solutions which makes an immediate change and the long term solutions which makes a transition in the society. However clearly, broadening women's access to positions of power and influence is likely to affect the agenda, and the status quo is more likely to be challenged.11

I. Definition of the Problem:

More than three decades after the first United Nations conference on women in 1975, the statistical picture for women's participation at high levels of decision-making still remains bleak.12 Therefore to examine the issue throughly, defining the main terms of the subject carries out the utmost importance.

a. Gender Equality

According to ECOSOC, equality of genders implies that “men and women should receive equal treatment, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment.”13 This concept is one of the main strategies of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where the ultimate aim is to provide equality in law and equality in social situation.14

b. Gender Equality in Public Sphere

There are different approaches about the public sphere in doctrine. According to Hauser, the public sphere is an area in social life where individuals can come together to discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action; it is "a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment”.15 It can be seen as "a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk"16 and "a realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed".17

Over years, in senior national civil service positions, the number of women has continued to increase, especially in social welfare ministries, which have traditionally been associated with some of status of women interested activities; but to a lesser extent in others, such as energy, agriculture and the environment.18 These latter offices have been dominated by men;19 perhaps because of the current prominence of these areas in the economic and foreign policy agendas of governments.20 According to UN WOMEN, “while the fields of health, education, housing and community development mirror major concerns of many women throughout the world, female concentration in these offices perpetuates traditions of women managing women and certainly does not reflect the growing numbers of women economists, management experts, lawyers and engineers.”21

In better constructed known democracies, too, argues the Georgina Ashworth, “the male culture of politics acts as a major barrier to women who wish to serve in public life. This institutional culture, she adds, is characterized by adversarial proceedings, the coercion to conform to the central interests of the parties, the timing of meetings and sessions, the pervasiveness of patronage and the distance of politics from daily realities.”22

Women's participation in local politics has long been viewed by individuals as an extension of women's traditional involvement in household management.23 This idea can be used either to devalue or to promote efforts to increase women's numbers in local government, where their political activity has so far been most marked. 24

c. Gender Equality in Private Sphere

The private sphere is composed of the world of household, family, private sector of worklife and domestic labor.25 In addition to that, decision making process is more about the second part of the private sphere as in the private sector of the workplaces.26

The movement of more and more power into the marketplace with liberalist trends, both nationally and transnationally,27 raises the important question of the extent to which women have entered decision-making in the private sector of the economy.

The private sphere was long regarded as women's ‘proper place’ whereas men were supposed to inhabit the public sphere.28 Feminist approach has challenged the ascription in a number of (not always commensurate) ways, such as, the slogan “the personal is political” attempted to open up the 'private' sphere of home and child-rearing to public scrutiny.29

All the while, the positions on the decision making process of business, politics and ideas are increasingly opened up to female participation.30


1. More Women for Democracy

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes with Article 21 that “every individual have the right to take part in the government of her or his country.”31 In the preamble32 of the Decleration, respected State parties commit themselves and their people to progressive measures which secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of the human rights set out in the Declaration. Even though it is not legally binding, the Declaration has been adopted in or has influenced most national constitutions since 1948 and it has also served as the foundation for a growing number of national laws, international laws, and treaties, as well as regional, national, and sub-national institutions33 protecting and promoting human rights which makes this document extremely significant.34

a. Women’s Representation in National Parliaments

Holding the legislative competences of the state, because national parliaments are to shape that country’s future; it carries out a great importance in ensuring women’s participation in the parliament seats for the guarantee of the representation of the whole society in the decision making mechanisms35. In reality, all regions have showed progress at different levels in improving gender balance in national parliaments,36 but today the percentage of women in the national governments is 21.4 per cent.37

Ten countries have no women parliamentarians, and in more than 40 others women account for less than 10 per cent of legislators. Nordic countries have the highest rates of participation, with women representing around 40 per cent of parliamentarians in the combined upper and lower chambers. Arab States rank lowest, with a regional average of less than 8 per cent38.

At the ministerial level, women are less well represented than they are in parliament. As of January 2012, women held 858 portfolios in 183 countries, accounting for only 14.3 per cent of government ministers worldwide.39 Nineteen governments had no women ministers at all, and among those governments that did include women, most had a token presence of around one to three women ministers40.

In addition to that, even once elected, women tend to hold lesser valued cabinet ministries or similar positions41; these are described as ‘soft industries’ and include health, education, and welfare.42 Rarely do women hold executive decision-making authority in more powerful domains or those that are associated with traditional notions of masculinity (such as finance and the military).43 Typically, the more powerful the institution, the less likely it is that women’s interests will be represented;44 moreover, in more autocratic states, women are less likely to have their interests represented.45 Many women attain political standing due to kinship ties, as they have male family members who are involved in politics.46

Women in parliament are not only having an impact on legislation. Their influence extends beyond their immediate actions and is encouraging changes in the priorities and policies of national legislators, including their male colleagues.47

Numbers are merely a necessary benchmark and not a sufficient condition of women’s empowerment. An extensive analysis of gender budgets in developing countries, undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat, has shown that changed gender attitudes, even where successful, must be accompanied by adequate resources as well as the requisite skills.48 Governments, in conjunction with women’s organizations and political parties, have a vital role in ensuring women’s empowerment. They do so by promoting gender-sensitivity among officials or establishing comprehensive women’s policy forums, such as women’s ministries and equal opportunity bureaus.49

Political parties and women’s groups are central to the advancement of women’s participation in politics. Parties have a critical function in recruiting and endorsing candidates for elections and putting their weight behind specific items in parliamentary agendas.50

b. Local Governments:

Political decentralization aims to give citizens or their elected representatives power; it may be associated with pluralistic politics and representative government, but it also means giving citizens, or their representatives, more influence in the formulation and implementation of laws and policies.51 Depending on the country, this may require constitutional or statutory reforms, the development of new political parties, increased power for legislatures, the creation of local political units, and encouragement of advocacy groups.52 Local governments, at this point, are parts of the policy of decentralization.

Most countries elect bodies at sub-national levels, some with state or provincial governments and most with local councils.53 Local governments are closest to their constituents and have the capacity to provide them with social services such as public transportation, drinking water, sanitation and the planning of cities.54 For the same reasons as in national government, gender balance is important in local government; however, similar to national governments, local governments worldwide suffer from a low representation of women.55

The difficulties of combining family life, work life and politics remain a severe obstacle to women seeking political office. Among the political challenges that women face, the prevalence of the ‘masculine model’ of political life and lack of party support feature prominently.56 In particular, the barriers to the political participation of women at the local level may be related to lack of community support, lack of family co-responsibility within households to release women from unpaid household work.57 Little recognition and legitimacy allocated to their contribution within public power spheres, and the lack of economic resources to pursue a candidature.58

Simply having a greater number of women in local government, however, will not guarantee their effectiveness as advocates for the interests and rights of children, women and families.59 In South Africa, for example, an analysis of the problems and opportunities faced by women in local government revealed that, as with their colleagues in parliament, their effectiveness was largely determined by factors other than their numerical presence.60 These included cultural norms and expectations of women’s roles; local hierarchies; the abilities and attributes of individual councilors; and the extent of political parties’ commitment to gender equality.61

According to a comparative analysis of women in local government in 13 countries in East Asia and the Pacific, women have enjoyed more success at gaining access to decision-making positions in local government than at the national level.62 Local government tends to be easier for women to fit into their lives along with family and work responsibilities; it also tends to be more accessible to them, with more positions available and less competition than for parliamentary seats.63 Moreover, women’s decision making roles in city and community government may be more easily accepted because they are seen as an extension of women’s involvement in their communities.64

Yet in many countries, women’s participation in local politics is often undermined by gender inequality within families, by an inequitable division of labour within households, and by deeply entrenched cultural attitudes about gender roles and the suitability of women for decision-making.65 According to United Cities and Local Governments, an organization that has been collecting data on women in local decision-making for ten years, women account for just over 9 per cent of mayors worldwide and almost 21 per cent of local councilors.66

II. The Role of Women in Private Sector

Women around the world have gradually gained more opportunities to participate in and contribute to the development of society. However, despite some advances toward gender equality in the private secto, still the gaps in the corporate sphere remain.67

Women in Workplaces

Before proceeding with the details of this section the question of what the term workplaces consists of will be clarified; workplaces can also be referred as social spaces other than the home68, however, this document focuses on women’s position in the private sector not excluding the workplaces in the public administration by using single term, workplaces.

Women leaders in workplaces have a potential to influence the way employees live and work by promoting fairer management practices, a better balance between work and family life and fewer gender disparities in the workplace; however, as in leadership and decision-making positions in the government, women leaders are not common in the private sector.69

Numbers suggests that corporate boards with more female members have greater participation of members in decision-making and better board governance than the others.70 Specifically women are less likely to have attendance problems than men.71 Furthermore, the greater the proportion of women on the board, the better are the attendance levels of male directors and the more equity-based is the pay for directors.72 In addition, companies where at least three women serve as board members show stronger than average results in financial performance.73

Although women directors are now present on most boards of directors of large companies, their number remains low compared to men. For example, in the United States of America in 2009, while 89 per cent of the Standard and Poor 500 companies74 had at least one woman director on their board, women comprised on average only 16 per cent of board directors.75 Companies with a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) were more likely to have a greater number of women on their board of directors:76 32 per cent, compared to 15 per cent in companies with a male CEO.77

It is also important to promote social policies and programmes to enable women and men to reconcile their work and family responsibilities and encourage men to take on an equal share of domestic chores and childcare.78 It is also important to implement policies aimed at altering stereotypical attitudes towards women at work, addressing underlying factors including sectorial and occupational segregation, and lack of education and training.79

Women are still severely underrepresented in the highest decision-making positions within the private sector, at least in the more developed regions.80 The situation is unlikely to be more encouraging in the less developed regions, although there is not enough data to confirm or refute this. Compared to the underrepresentation of women in top leadership and decision-making positions in the government, judiciary and civil service, the situation in the private sector is even more severe.81

III. Continuing Campaigns, Latest Conferences and Institutions about the Issue

a. Implementation of Quotas as Efforts of some National Mechanisms

In many countries electoral gender quotas are considered to be an effective measure to improve gender balance in parliament as being precautions of the governments to achieve equal representation of both genders.82 Generally, quotas for women require that women constitute a certain number or percentage of a body, such as a candidate list or a parliamentary assembly.83

Today, quota systems aim at ensuring that women constitute at least 30 or 40 per cent, or even a true gender balance of 50 per cent, as opposed to only a few tokens.84 Many countries in the world implement gender quotas to offset obstacles that women had faced in the electoral process. Those obstacles start with unequal opportunities at the beginning of individuals’ lives and continue with the prejudices of the society.85 Therefore quotas’ main aim is to tackle with those obstacles, which require long term implementations, in faster and guaranteed ways.

At present, at least 90 countries apply an electoral gender quota of some kind for the lower or single chamber of their national parliaments.86

The introduction of gender quotas, however, is not without controversy. While quotas compensate for actual barriers that prevent women from their fair share of the political seats, it has been argued that they contradict the principles of equal opportunity since women are given preference over men.87 It has also been observed that quotas are hard to apply in single winner systems, where each party nominates a single candidate per district.88 Furthermore, the re-election of parliament members restricts the rate of member turnover at each election, which makes gender quotas difficult to comply with.89 Analysis by the European Commission shows that around two thirds of members of parliament are re-elected at each election, leaving limited opportunities for new leaders and hence limited opportunities for progress towards gender balance.90

b. Types of Electoral Quota for Women

An electoral quota for women may be mandated in the constitution, stipulated in the national legislation of the country or formulated in a political party statute. Typically, three types of electoral quota are distinguished, the first two being legislated quotas (constitutional and/or legislative) and the third one voluntary, thus:

Reserved seats, reserve a number of seats for women in a legislative assembly

Legislated candidate quotas, reserve a number of places on electoral lists for female candidates

Voluntary political party quota, rules or targets voluntarily adopted by political parties to include a certain percentage of women as election candidates. This does not include quotas for internal party structures.91

There is however, some confusion about what constitutes different quota regimes. As Dahlerup claims,92 a distinction is made between two separate dimensions in the definition of quota systems: The first dimension covers the questions who has mandated the quota system, while the second dimension indicates what part of the selection and nomination process that the quota targets: "If the leading party in a country uses a quota this may have a significant impact on the overall rate of female representation"93.

As for the mandate, legal gender quotas are mandated either by the constitution (like in Burkina Faso, Nepal, the Philippines and Uganda), or by the electoral law (as in many parts of Latin America, as well as, for example, in Belgium, Bosnia—Herzegovina, Slovenia and France), but quotas may also be decided for voluntarily by political parties themselves, voluntary party quotas. In some countries, including Germany, Norway and Sweden, a number of political parties have introduced quotas for their own lists.94 In many others, though, only one or two parties have opted to use quotas.95 However, if the leading party in a country uses a quota, such as the ANC in South Africa, this may have a significant impact on the overall rate of female representation.96 Yet, even if gender quotas are increasingly popular, most of the world’s political parties do not employ voluntary gender quota at all.97

Concerning the second dimension, quotas may target the first stage of the selection process, the stage of finding aspirants, for instance, those willingly to be considered for nomination, either by a primary or by the nominations committee and other parts of the party organization.98 Gender quotas at this stage are rules that demand a certain number or percentage of women or either sex be represented in the pool of candidates that are up for discussion.99 This has been used in countries with plurality-majority electoral systems, like the controversial ‘all-women short lists’ used for some elections by the British Labour Party.100 In general, it is rather complicated to construct a gender quota system that matches a majority system, but it is possible (as for instance in India and Bangladesh at the local level and elections for the new Scottish parliament).101

The second stage is the actual nomination of candidates to be placed on the ballot by the party. This frequently used quota system implies that a rule (legal or voluntary) is installed according to which for instance 20, 30, 40 or even 50% of the candidates must be women.102 This may, as mentioned above, be formulated in a gender-neutral way, stating that no sex should have not less than for instance 40% and no more than 60.103

At the third stage, those elected quotas as reserved seats are found. Here, it is decided that a certain percentage or number among those elected must be women. Increasingly, gender quotas are being introduced using reserved seat systems, and increasingly women elected on reserved seats quota systems are not appointed, but elected like in Jordan, Uganda and Rwanda.104

Since the issue of quotas is an important trend as tools of the implementation of gender equality, it is crucial that mentioning pros and cons of quota project:105

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