Civil society organisations and parliaments play vital and interdependent roles in advancing gender equality. However, the nature of the engagement between these two groups remains insufficiently explored. A
better understanding of the scope of participation and of the views of women’s organisations in relation to parliamentary processes can illuminate new entry points for coordinated action on gender equality goals in particular.
This report presents the findings of a survey about engagement with parliaments that was undertaken
by ParlAmericas in 2022 and completed by 63 women’s organisations across 12 Caribbean countries. The survey respondents provided valuable insights on the current status of parliamentary engagement efforts by women's organisations in the region, their policy objectives, and challenges faced.
The findings underscore that women’s organisations working on diverse gender equality issues in the Caribbean see value in advancing their policy objectives through engagement with their national parliament. The surveyed organisations identified numerous barriers to effective parliamentary engagement, however, ranging from internal capacity constraints to low awareness or availability of information about legislative processes and/or institutional mechanisms for citizen participation in legislative work, among others. When solicited on strategies to navigate these barriers, respondents highlighted the importance of fostering
a greater sense of collaboration, rather than competition, both between civil society organisations and parliament, and among civil society groups themselves of different sizes, mandates, and capacities.
Responses indicate that building open communication pathways with trusted allies is likely to increase the engagement of women’s organisations in parliamentary processes. Areas for capacity building proposed by the survey respondents included development of strategic, evidence-based messaging; effective lobbying strategies; and getting issues on the legislative agenda. Addressing these types of knowledge and capacity gaps – in tandem with strengthening the mechanisms offered by parliaments in the region – is expected to increase the willingness, enthusiasm, and quality of contributions to the legislative agenda by women’s organisations.
These survey findings and related consultations will inform the development of ParlAmericas’ trainings and learning exchanges for both civil society stakeholders and parliamentarians, with the aim of further strengthening their collaborations. It is furthermore hoped that the findings will be beneficial to practitioners working in various fields to realise gender equality through social and legal change.