Celebrating International Democracy Day: Making It Meaningful for Women

Event: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, Washington, DC

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

World Learning

Washington, DC 20005

What is the state of democracy in the world and are the values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage being made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere? While the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) serves as a normative advance in amplifying the rights of women to be heard and to have women’s interests represented, the active participation of women, on equal terms with men, continues to be an elusive goal for many women.

Women are still under-represented in elected positions and most countries are far from reaching the 30 per cent critical mass proposed by the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Political institutions – from political parties to electoral commissions – often lack the capacity to ensure that women’s interests are articulated and addressed in public policy. Accountability institutions are not consistent in ensuring that power-holders answer to women for failures to protect women’s rights or respond to their needs. And while Security Council 1325 calls for the increased representation of women at all decision making levels, it is in post-conflict settings the lack of access for women to democratic institutions and democratic process is most evident.

Please join us for a discussion on how to make the values of democracy work for women and what that means for designing and implementing more effective and innovative elections and political processes programs.


Don Steinberg, World Learning President and CEO


Eileen Pennington, Associate Director of Women’s Empowerment at The Asia Foundation will discuss recent Asia Foundation efforts to address gaps in women’s political participation in post-conflict and complex environments in Asia.

Lisa Dickieson, Senior Vice President for Programs at Freedom House, will talk about an innovative women’s network in Zimbabwe that is drawing up a roadmap to strengthen women’s participation in elections and providing input to the drafters of the country’s new constitution. She will also provide insights in to an illustrative project in Jordan which facilitates women’s political participation at the community level.

Laura Neuman, Director of the Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Program will share the Carter Center’s recent study in Liberia, Guatemala and Bangladesh which demonstrates that women are not able to exercise fundamental rights to information with the same facility as men. Neuman will share recommendations aimed at addressing obstacles facing women around the world in accessing information, and how access to information opens the door for women to fully participate in the political, social and economic development of their societies.





The Advancing Democratic Elections and Political Transitions (ADEPT) is a new joint venture comprising The Asia Foundation, The Carter Center, Democracy International, Freedom House, IREX, and World Learning. ADEPT partner organizations have been early adopters and innovators in election technology and share a common philosophy of fully integrating technology initiatives into local political systems and developer communities.

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