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Introduction to Gender Equality in Public Office

Empowering and encouraging women to participate more fully in the public sphere is essential. Gender diversity in public institutions is particularly crucial, given that these decision making bodies create the rules that affect people’s rights, behaviours and life choices.

An increase of women in public life results in lower levels of inequality and increased confidence in national governments. Figures show that the increased presence of women cabinet ministers is associated with a rise in public health spending across many countries.

Ensuring that governments reflect the diversity of the societies they represent guarantees a balanced perspective which enables an inclusive approach to policy making and service delivery.

There are major structural, legal and social barriers to women’s empowerment in public life. Lack of visibility and uneven work-life balance arrangements make it especially hard for women to be active in economic and political life. Women also face a lack of political encouragement to run for public office.

A whole-of-government approach is crucial to advancing the role of women in government. Holistic policy making will not only help bring more women into public light, but will ensure that gender considerations are more systematically embedded in all policies.

To empower women and fully leverage their skills in the global economy, we need to

  • improve our public institutions to ensure they have robust accountability mechanisms;

  • create clearly defined roles for implementing a gender equality agenda; and

  • break down our data by gender in order to measure progress on gender equality.


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