According to a 48-page report, “Women’s Representation in Local Government in Asia and the Pacific,” by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), women have gradually been elected to leadership positions in local governments in the Asia-Pacific region. However, figures are still low at the national level, despite the fact that most Asia-Pacific countries committed to achieving a target of 30 percent at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
Bold steps [are] needed to significantly increase the numbers, said Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP deputy regional director for Asia-Pacific.
“Then (in 1995), the global representation of women in parliament was only around 11 percent, while in 2009, that number had shifted to 18.4 percent. In Asia and the Pacific, the picture is even worse, with Asia (18.2 percent) and the Pacific (15.2 percent) ranking as the second and third worst regions for women’s representation in parliament in the world,” a statement on the report said.
The highest levels of women’s representation in urban councils were in China (48.2 percent), Australia (24.65 percent), Bangladesh (28.4 percent), South Korea (21.78 percent), and Thailand (13.3 percent).
However, with the exception of Australia (21.6 percent) and the Philippines (20.5 percent), women were unlikely to be elected into leadership positions. Bangladesh had only 1.37 percent of women elected to these higher positions at the time of the survey.
“For most poor people in Asia–Pacific, local governments are the most important political arena[s]. They also have an important role in encouraging women’s political participation,”said Rosellini. ♦