Inter-Parliamentary Union Current Affairs
The International Day of Parliamentarism is observed every year on June 30 across the globe with an aim to recognise role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. The year 2018 marks first celebration of International Day of Parliamentarism. The day celebrates parliaments, as the cornerstone of democracy and as institutions designed to improve the lives of the people they represent. It is also provides opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.
Facts and Figures
Parliamentary system of government falls into two categories: bicameral (having two chambers of parliament) and unicameral (having only one chamber). Out of 193 member countries of the United Nations, 79 are having bicameral legislatures and 114 are having unicameral legislatures. These total 272 chambers of parliament comprise over 46000 members of parliament. The parliaments represent voice of people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments to account. The oldest parliament is Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament founded in 930.
The International Day of Parliamentarism was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting resolution A/RES/72/278 in May 2018 to recognise role of parliaments in national plans and strategies. The chosen date i.e. June 30, coincides with day in 1889, close to 130 years ago, that Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)—the global organization of parliaments was founded. The resolution adopted by UNGA called on UN and its member states to work more closely with parliaments as well as IPU on issues relating to human rights, gender equality, health and peace and youth empowerment.
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
IPU is global inter-parliamentary institution. It was established in 1889 and was the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Its initial objective was arbitration of conflicts. It played important role setting up Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Over time, its mission has evolved towards promotion of democracy and inter-parliamentary dialogue. It has worked for establishment of institutions at inter-governmental level, including UN. Initially, IPU was for individual parliamentarians, but has since transformed into international organization of parliaments of sovereign states. The national parliaments of 178 countries are its members and 12 regional parliamentary assemblies are its associate members. The IPU has permanent observer status at UNGA.
In recently released 2017 Women in Politics Map report, India was ranked low at 148th position in representation of women in executive government. It was released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women.
The report was launched on sidelines of 61st Commission on Status of Women, the largest inter-governmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality. The theme for this year event is on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
Key highlights of the report
- Globally, the number of women in executive government and in Parliament has stagnated, with only marginal improvements since 2015.
- Top 10 countries with highest women in parliament: Rwanda, Bolivia, Cuba, Iceland, Nicaragua, Sweden, Senegal, Mexico, Finland and South Africa.
- Region wise facts: In Europe, the total percentage stood at 22.5%. In Nordic countries the number of female ministers fell by more than six per cent to 43.5%.
- Women’s representation in the Americas made the most significant gains. Women’s participation in parliaments rose to 25% from 22.4% in 2015. But the region saw a drop in Heads of State.
- In Africa, female ministers saw a decline in numbers, after years of steady growth. About 19.7% of the region’s ministerial posts are held by women.
- In Asia, women hold 11% of ministerial posts. Indonesia tops in the region with 25.7% women representatives in the government.
- Among the Arab States, 9.7% of senior executive posts are held by women. Tunisia and United Arab Emirates top in region with 23.1% and 26.7%, respectively.
- India related facts: Women make up 11.8% of the Lok Sabha i.e. 64 were elected to the 542-member house and 11% of the Rajya Sabha with 27 of the 245 members. India ranked 88 in the number of women ministers with five or 18.5% in the cabinet.
This report shows that progress in gender equality remains slow in all structures of power and types of decision-making. Power is still firmly in men’s hands. Equal representation for women in par with men in positions of power is a fundamental precondition for truly effective and accountable democracy.