“Gender and Party Politics”
Galiya Khassanova, IPF/OSI-2002 continuation fellow
The project has been designed as a continuation of the
project “Women in Democratic Institutions in Kazakhstan”, which was
developed in frame of the IPF/OSI Fellowship Program. Within the Project,
problems of women’s participation in representative state bodies, as well
as in non-governmental organizations in the Republic of Kazakhstan were
investigated. However, due to scope of the problem and necessity of separate
investigation, the Project has not covered such important players in political
life of the country as political parties. Growing democratic changes in the
society make political parties being more and involved to competition for seats
in higher legislative bodies of the country. Thus, women’s participation
in political parties appears to be one more channel for promotion of women into
decision-making level. So far, women’s role in political parties is
extremely low and is not correspond with contemporary challenges. However, as
the experience of women in the West shows, women successfully being introduced
to traditional institutions of male power – political parties. And in this
case, study of the world positive experience, its critical rethinking and
application in the CIS republics being on the way of democracy building has a
Importance of the Issue
Involvement of women in political party work is important because this ensured
the “critical mass” of
women in politics, who are able strongly influence political processes and
political culture in general, as well as specific women’s points of view.
women come to traditional politics with already formed feminist consciousness
(as a rule, from women’s non-governmental movement, which asserts an idea
of equal rights and opportunities for women and men). However, the most part of
women has a patriarchal consciousness. Hence, simple increasing of women’s
quantity in power would not give a significant effect. Only women, having been
prepared in political parties and other civil society associations, and who
share gender approach, should come to politics.
was showed at previous research, gender gaps, being appeared during last several
years’ elections in the US and other western countries, have attracted
mass media attention, provoked public debates on gender issues, sharpened
inter-party competitions on women’s voices involvement, and increased
women’s participation in politics. Due to these facts, some changes in the
patterns of inter-party competitions and women’s influence on processes,
and results of election, have been occurred.
However, role of
women in CIS countries is underestimated. Results of past elections had been
demonstrated that persuasively. For instance, in Russia, during election
campaign of 1999, the number of women included to party lists sharply decreased.
As a result, there are only 34 women out of 350 members (or 7%) were elected to
the State Duma. Such a low women representation has never been existed during
the long history of parliamentarism in soviet and post-soviet Russia.
In Kazakhstan, in
1999 elections, only 5 out of 12 parties nominated women (in general). And only
3 of 12 parties – pro-government party «Otan», party «Vozrozhdenie
Kazakhstana» («Revival of Kazakhstan» with a woman-leader of
the party, and Communist Party – put a few well-known women to the top of
party lists. Due to only 10 seats in Lower Chamber of Parliament –
Maslikhat - were given to parties, male party leaders were concerned only with
their own promotion. That is why women participated mostly at the sinlge-mandate
constituencies. The only women's party «Political Alliance of Women's
Organizations», which was established a half a year before elections,
simply could not manage with all bureaucratic formal procedures needed to be
registered for elections.
In addition, the key problem of Kazakhstan society is a fact that many women who are in politics don't represent the real interests of women's electorate, as well as women' s electorate don't support women who are potential politicians. This fact has been discovered by many surveys. Nevertheless, among countries of Central Asian region, Kazakhstan is one of the effective states, where features of developing political culture in society, political awareness and activism among women's population are growing. In this case, the real opportunity for introduction of range of mechanisms of involvement of women in politics exists.
Political Climate in Kazakhstan
At present time,
there are all features of multi-party system exist in Kazakhstan. By 1 January
2002, there were 16 parties and 10 public-political movements registered in the
republic. Among them to be found women's party «Democratic Party of Women
in Kazakhstan» and a movement «Women in Kazakhstan». Leaders
of both organizations – R. Sarsembayeva and B. Bekturganova – in
1999 run for Parliament as independent candidates, but failed due to high
competition (14-15 candidates for one place) in single mandate constituencies in
Almaty. Numerous violations registered by observers of OSCE and NGOs, also were
not supportive for women candidates.
numerous sociological surveys, less than half of surveyed Kazakhstan population
(44.7%) firmly supports parties and movements, but 27.4% have not
identified their preferences. Pretty big part of population does not interested
in political parties, as well as their political platforms.
It is known that parties, which strive to gain power using democratic
tools, need to be supported by wide social lays. If party ideas and its program
compliant with needs of people's mass, the party would deserve trust and
respect. So far, parties in Kazakhstan have not become really massive, because
they don't offer clear conceptions of Kazakhstan development, which would be
accepted by society. And here, the role of women is undoubtedly important,
because they can give new impulse to parties, bring new ideas to their agendas,
and thus making women' s majority party's allies, as well as all parts of
vulnerable population of the republic. But beforehand, there is a necessity to
make a big preparatory work with parties, persuading them in necessity of women
to be their counterparts, as well as to be party members.
The US experience
can be served as a very conceiving argument, where a long-term and stable
tendency of growing women's quantity in the highest executive and legislative
bodies of power, as in federal as in states/province levels, has been watched.
Party engines of leading parties in power, had to as modify rules of their
internal life as, relatively, rebuild their organizational structures, being
concerned with involving women in their rights, promoting them upstairs of party
hierarchy and appointing them to highest state positions. In 1980s, Democratic
and Republic parties introduced new rules to their party regulations: systems of
quota, and established specific committees dealing with gender issues.
of political parties in Scandinavian Countries also can be served as an
unarguable argument. Parties if these countries decided to introduce gender
quotas in party lists following the principle: every second nominee is a woman.
Thanks to increased share of women in decision-making level, policy of these
countries have become socially oriented, concerned with welfare of their
present time, in Kazakhstan society a possible increase of party representation
in Parliament has been discussed. The necessity of increasing number of sets in
Parliament from 30 to 50 has been substantiating. In such conditions, role of
parties in promotion of women into decision-making will receive a significant
importance. Now there is a necessity to work with parties in ongoing base,
raising awareness of their leaders in following issues:
In the USA, parties actively fight for attraction of women's voices,
since women's electorate, due to its quantitative advantage (in 7 millions) and
responsibility, has a significant power influencing election results. In
Kazakhstan, quantity of women is also higher than that of men, and consists 52%
out of total number of population. Secondly, women are more responsible as they
consider elections a citizen's mandate. And though such type of phenomenon as
absenteeism exists among women too, their number among voting people has been
dominating. And, thirdly, being more educated than men, women vote more
deliberately and rarely support choices of their husbands. Due to absence of
national surveys of the electorate behavior, including women's one, parties in
Kazakhstan not sufficiently recognize women's power as voters and as candidates.
Women in politics contribute to politics their knowledge and experience,
which are different from men's ones, thus enriching politics and making it
highly moral and socially fair. Only joining efforts help society to find exit
from crisis of transition, and make society flourishing.
Women, who decide to enter politics, conduct their political campaigns
very responsively. Lack of financial resources they compensate by knowledge of
contemporary election technologies, thorough development of poetical platforms,
serious preparation for meetings with electorate, accountability before voters
for given promises. Results of interviews, making with Parliament and local
government members at the previous research, have witnessed about that (see
Brief Description of the Project
In frame of the
Project it is anticipated: to make research, to develop recommendations and, on
their basis, to start working with political parties and political movements.
The work should be ongoingly strengthened during the all pre-election period up
to October 2004, next elections date. The main result of the project will be as
following: increasing quantity and quality of women's representation in party
managerial bodies, party lists of nominees for elections, and finally (long-term
result), at highest positions in the national and local representative power
bodies in the country.
Published in two
languages (Russian and English) research results, together with materials of
Round Table, will disseminated not only in Kazakhstan, but in Central Asian
republics, situation with women's advancement in which even worse that in
To attract attention of all party functionaries to the problem of women's
promotion to decision-making;
To ensure women's inclusion to party lists of candidates at elections in
To strengthen the party activities in involvement of women to their
To increase leader potential of women politicians;
To increase number of women as among ordinary party members as in its
To encourage political parties to develop in their conceptions gender
roles and family duties to be compliant with democratic changes in the country;
To stimulate raise of organizational culture of political parties, which
do not encourage women's involvement in politics;
encourage destroying patriarchal biases in the highest echelons of male
political elite, which push women away of political life.
To analyze party politics in respect of women in the USA (Democratic and
Republic parties); United Kingdom (Labor Party), and Sweden (Social-Democratic
Party). To make a comparative analysis with party politics in CIS (preferably in
Russia and Kazakhstan).
To make gender analysis of women's participation in parties of
Kazakhstan, their roles and perspectives, as well as political platforms of all
registered in Kazakhstan political parties, in which to define:
of women are included to political platforms;
quota is included to party lists, including upper part of the lists, and what
points of views of the party leaders to these issues;
what kind of
work is doing for involvement of women's electorate voices;
what kind of
activities is doing of r involvement of women to their rights.
To develop mechanism on women's involvement to party work in Kazakhstan.
Basing on research results, to conduct a Round Table with invitation of
foreign (Dr. Shvedova N., Russia;
Dr. Chikalova I., Byelorussia) and local experts in the filed of gender and
party politics, leaders of political parties and public movements; women's NGOs;
members of the National Commission on Family and Women; Ministry of Information,
and Central Election Committee. After Round Table a resolution will be
developed, which will become a tool for Government and women's NGOs for
relations with political parties. To publish main presentations of the Round
Table participants and guests, and to disseminate the publication among
governmental, non-governmental and academic institutions.
of the Project Implementation:
Sociological analysis of the official statistics and sociological
surveys; developing questionnaire; in-depth interviews with party leaders and
women who works for political parties
Political Analysis: comparative study of the issue in the USA, UK,
Sweden, and CIS. Reading the basic sources: books, articles, information
bulletins, political platforms; Internet sources.
Interrelations with political parties: participation in their open
meetings, seminars, conferences, and so forth.
Practical consultations for women – potential candidates.
Gender Analysis of political platforms and related materials, published
Organization and Conduction of the Round Table at the time of finishing
Development of political recommendations.
8) Publication of Round Table materials, as well as research results.
information database (data collection, work in libraries, archives,
- October, 2002
in AWID’s 9th International Forum on Women's Rights and
Development: “Reinventing Globalization”. Collection
information on party politics in participating at conference countries.
3-6, 2002 Guadalajara, Mexico
the first part of research: history of political life development in
Kazakhstan. Role of women in political parties.
- December, 2002
of analytical materials for gender analysis of political parties work in
Europe, the US and NIS.
report preparation and submition to IPF
to survey conduct: questionnaire, negotiations with experts and political
stages survey conduct:
and interviews experts (30-50 people), political parties (4-7), and
population (300 people)
of sociological data
analysis of sociological data
of survey results
of recommendations for political parties
of survey results in local press
of Round Table with leaders of parties and non-governmental organizations:
Table (Public hearings) with leaders of political parties and public
of Round Table materials for publication
editing presentations and reports;
translation into Kazakh and/or English languages;
computer composition and final corrections
of Round Table materials and research paper
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