Annual Helsinki Seminar on Closing the Gender Gap in Parliaments (16-18 of May 2016)

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Each year the World Bank Parliamentary Strengthening Program and the Parliament of Finland hold the Annual Helsinki Parliamentary Seminar which brings together Members of Parliament, parliamentary staff and thought leaders from around the globe to share experience and knowledge in critical parliamentary developmental issues.

The 2016 event (May 16-18) under the theme “Closing the Gender Gap in Parliaments” explored the factors that impede greater participation by women MPs in Budget, Finance, and Public Accounts Committees, and discussed what actions can be undertaken to achieve better representation and empower the women Members of these Committees.

More specifically, the Seminar aimed to:

1) Enhance delegates’ understanding of the challenges faced by women MPs in participating in parliamentary money committees; and
2) Draw on the experience of delegates and the resource team in order to develop guidance on how to design and implement parliamentary strengthening initiatives that empower women’s participation in Finance, Budget, Estimates and Public Accounts committees.

Participants of the seminar represented the parliaments of Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Viet Nam.

While the seminar mapped out some of the considerable challenges inherent in this topic, a range of solutions and strategies were also canvassed to improve capacity and women’s access to money committees. Also discussed were strategies to move beyond the question of numbers, to empower women in parliaments, as well as their male colleagues, to give voice to gender equality in the full course of parliamentary committee work.

To encourage participants to undertake a reform change process following the 2016 Helsinki Seminar, the WB Parliamentary Strengthening Program introduced the Value Creation Stories Framework  which explicitly seeks to establish a link between the country’s participation in an activity and a reform process.

On the last day of the Seminar, the participants were asked to reflect on their own value creation stories in light of enhancing greater participation by women MPs in budget, finance, and public accounts committees, and present the actions they could undertake on return to their respective countries, to achieve better representation and empower the women members of these committees.

Action Plans:

• Capacity building for MPs and staff on gender mainstreaming in the work of money committees
• Increase women’s numbers in leadership positions/Introducing dual leadership for Committees

Trinidad and Tobago 
• Improve MPs’ gender sensitive budget analysis skills

• Enhance knowledge among MPs, including those members of the Financial and Budgetary Affairs Committee on the importance of women’s participation in public life

• Establishment of a Parliamentary Caucus on Equality

• To make all money committees gender sensitive and identify the gender gaps (PAC, Budget. LAAC, PIC)

• Increase the number of women MPs on money committees

Learn more about reducing gender gap in parilaments on AGORA's Areas of Expertise.