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Get women more involved! ICLD Cross-pollination seminar

Strengthening Effective Participation and Equitable Representation of Women in Local Democracy

mars 10, 2022 , kl. 08:15 12:00

The Zoom link and a reminder will be sent out to you the day before the seminar if you registered in advance.

In terms of broad geopolitical sentiment, there is a strong commitment to improving gender equality in political decision-making through the adoption and domestication of multiple international instruments and protocols. The most significant of these is the Sustainable Development Goal Number Five on gender equality.

The global strategic intent is to ensure equitable representation and meaningful participation of women in democratic processes by 2030 because it is widely acknowledged that the under-representation and compromised participation of women at any level of governance hinders democratic gains. With only eight years left to achieve this, there is a sense of urgency that must be reflected in the prioritization of political will towards the interrogation and changing of policies, practices and systems that definitively enhance the quality of women’s influence over the political and development trajectory of their communities.

Whereas the successes in terms of advancing women’s collective voice and leadership at various levels of political activity are celebrated, critical gaps still exist and must be addressed, at the local democracy stage. Right from the grassroots, both the catalysts and barriers impacting women’s political spaces that are evident at the systemic, structural and societal levels need to be unpacked and deliberately managed for more desirable outcomes.

This progressive change momentum must be sustained and accelerated as a matter of common global importance. Therefore, as force multipliers for equitable and inclusive local democracy, it is imperative that all ICLD ITP stakeholders engage in mutually-enriching dialogue that enables them to turn the spotlight onto the gaps, ask the hard questions, share winning approaches and adopt proactive measures to realign local democracies with the aspirations of SDG 5. This is what we ought to do at this seminar.

Presenters & Panelists

Dr Victoria Lihiru
Academician and Women’s Political Participation and Leadership Expert, The Open University of Tanzania

Victoria Lihiru teaches law at the Open University of Tanzania and serves as the Secretariat for Development Partners Group (DPG)-Governance. Her areas of specialization are Regional Integration, Human Rights and Constitutional Law with great interest in Women’s Political Participation and Inclusive Elections. In 2019, Victoria obtained her PhD in Public Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. With 10 years of experience, Victoria consults with local and international Organisations on issues of Governance, Policy Influencing, Gender and Disability Inclusion. Victoria also founded the Her-Ability Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to advance the unique potentials of girls with disabilities in universities. She strives to see a world where women and men have the opportunity to equally participate in democratic decision-making processes and platforms. 

Romina Kuko
Deputy Interior Minister and Chair of Tirana Municipal Council, Albania

As the Deputy Minister of Interior of Albania and Chair of Tirana Municipal Council, Romina is the Security Sector Expert and a Gender Equality Champion, with a long experience in Public Administration and International Organizations. She has worked at the Ministry of Defence, Euro-Atlantic Integration and Defence Policy Directorate, and with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. By combining research findings with practical work on the ground, Romina achieved to apply the multi-agency approach to providing security both at the central and local levels. She is also a Chair member of the National Gender Equality Council and the initiator of the 1325UNSCR National Action Plan. She has designed various policies, training and campaigns for a multi-stakeholder approach focusing on mainstreaming, participation and genderization

Nereah Amondi
Member of County Assembly, Homa Bay County, Kenya

Based on Nereah’s strong record championing gender and youth matters at the grassroots level, she was nominated into the County Assembly of Homa Bay to advance gender equality under Kenya’s two-thirds gender rule. She has legislated gender mainstreaming and child welfare and protection and implemented gender response projects under the NAO Foundation, and is an alumnus of international leadership training programs, working towards preparing women for leadership. She was the winner of the European Union-funded ‘Ms President’ Reality show In 2020 and was selected to participate in the Africa Liberal Network’s Women Leadership Program. Nereah has addressed the EU Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and Gender Equality, Status of Women Conference. Nereah is running for the office of Member of National Assembly, Karachuonyo Constituency, Kenya in 2022.

Rajka Vujovic
Member of the Social Democratic Party (SDPS), Assembly of Vojvodina Province, Serbia

Rajka is the president of the Provincial Women’s Forum and the Vice president of the City Board of SDPS Novi Sad. In her political activism, she advocates for the improvement of the legal position of women in the countryside, quality education of young girls in the countryside, the needs of older people living in the countryside by highlighting their needs in public and advocating for sustainable solutions for these vulnerable groups, and awareness among men and boys on the importance of gender equality. Rajka is currently at her at the Faculty of Law for Commerce and Judiciary for her Doctoral Studies and as an academic lecturer and as a part of the project team for International Cooperation and Partnership.

Isaac Zulu
Director of Finance, Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ)

Isaac is a Gender Focal Point for the Local Government Association of Zambia, where he is employed as the Director of Finance since 2017. With over eight years of experience as a trainer of Gender Mainstreaming in local governments, Isaac has conducted training and workshops in 44 of Zambia’s 116 local authorities. As a Gender and Human Rights activist of over 16 years, he has served as an elected Ward Councillor in Chongwe District Council and the Country Manager for Gender Links, where he was responsible for running the programmes Gender & Governance, Gender & the Media, Gender Justice, and the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance.


08:15 – 08:30 Participant Log-in and Registration                             

08:30 – 08:35 Welcome remarks Ms Anne Scheffer Leander (ICLD) 


08:35 – 08:40 Introductions                

08:40 – 08:45 Seminar program outline                        


08:45 – 09:15 More Urgency, More Agency: Building inclusive, equitable, and resilient local democracies.       

Panellists: Ms Rajka Vujovic, Politician, Serbia; Ms Nereah Amondi Oketch, Politician, Kenya; Dr Victoria Lihiru, Academic and social activist, Tanzania; Hon. Romina Kuko, Deputy Minister of Interior, Albania.

09:15 – 09:30 Q&A session


09:30 – 09:50 Effective Participation In Local Democracies: What has to be done to get there? Dr Victoria Lihiru, Academic and activist, Tanzania

09:50 – 10:05 Q&A session

10:05 – 10:35 Participant Breakout rooms                    

10:35 – 10:50 Plenary discussions           

10:50 – 11:00: T E A  B R E A K

11:00 – 11:20 Equitable Representation: Who is not at the table and how can we get them there? Mr Isaac Zulu, Zambia  

11:20 – 11:35 Q&A session

11:35 – 11:45 Summary of discussions    


11:45 – 11:50 Closing remarks; Karin Melin (ICLD)    

11:50 – 11:55 Vote of thanks and close of seminar formalities; Ms Anne Scheffer Leander (ICLD)       

Key definitions

SDG Number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Women and girls, everywhere, must have equal rights and opportunities, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination. SDG 5 is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. In short, all the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5.

Gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres.

Effective Participation: A value system that promotes the right and competence of women to engage in decision-making and facilitates their access to power at all levels without having to face undue prejudice rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power or harmful norms.

Equitable Representation: The assurance that all voices are given a fair hearing at the relevant decision-making levels that is commensurate to, and reflective of, their qualitative and quantitative contribution to community development.

Rational for effective participation and equitable representation of women in local democracy

The balanced engagement of both women and men in decision-making at all levels is a fundamental building block for any viable democracy. It is vital for the enhanced functioning of society as it reinforces the respect for human rights and creates harmony in the distribution of power and social responsibilities between women and men.

Unfortunately, there is widespread evidence across the globe to show that the adoption of legislative and policy frameworks to ensure equal opportunities between women and men has an inadequate translation into any real increase in women’s ability to constructively influence the decision-making processes.

There are several countries with a weak political will to mainstream gender equality and therefore, the perpetuation of discrimination against women, even where expressly prohibited by law, receives wide social acceptance. This results in reversals in democratic credentials and lopsided development models which are fragile, exclusive and unsustainable.

About Cross-pollination seminar series

The main objective of the seminar series “Cross-pollination” is to facilitate continuous structured learning, knowledge-sharing and exchange of practical experience among teams in ICLD’s programmes across the world in a deliberate effort to address key emerging issues and challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.