Tristan : COUNCILLOR GREEN REPORTS ON COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Submitted by Tristan Times (Public Relations Information Office) 20.10.2012 (Current Article)
Councillor Tony Green returned to the Island last week, having attended the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in Sri Lanka and the EU-OCT forum in Greenland
COUNCILLOR GREEN REPORTS ON COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Councillor Tony Green returned to the Island last week, having attended the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in Sri Lanka and the EU-OCT forum in Greenland (see separate press release).
The CPC, held between 7 -15 September, with the theme ‘Ensuring a Relevant Commonwealth for the Future’ was attended by some 800 delegates and staff from 175 branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). Preliminary meetings took place on 7 and 8 September, the two-day Small Branches Conference was held on 9 and 10 and the official opening ceremony of the CPC took place on Tuesday 11 September.
The 32nd Small Branches Conference was opened by the Sri Lanka Speaker and President of the CPA, the Hon Chamal Rajapaksa. A welcome address was also given by Sir Alan Hazelhurst MP, Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee, who commented that the conference offered a forum for small countries to share issues and expertise.
The Small Branches Conference was divided over four Plenary Sessions covering the following topics:
· Ensuring Adequate Parliamentary Scrutiny of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
· The impact of the Informal Economy on Economic Diversification in Small States
· Strategies to increase Women’s Representation in Parliaments in Small States
· Measuring Progress and Well-being beyond GDP in Small States
Councillor Green was one of four Discussion Leaders for the 3rd Plenary Session on the second day and in his discussion he focused on the lack of women’s representation in St Helena Politics and made the following suggestions on how this gender imbalance could be tackled:
· Embark on a plan to increase women’s representation in Parliament by demonstrating to women that by becoming a Member of Parliament they can make a difference!
· Educate people about politics and raise the entire profile of Parliamentarians.
· Give thought to introduce an explicit quota for women’s representation as already exists in some countries.
· Encourage women to come together for regular group sessions to become more aware of politics, the environment in which it takes place, and the rewards - get women themselves to focus on wanting to increase their representation in Parliament.
· Hold capacity-building workshops for women and get present and past politicians involved to create a better awareness and hopefully remove some of the reluctance towards being a politician.
· Along with paying a salary to women in Parliament, offer other incentives such as maternity leave and similar benefits.
Councillor Green stressed that women need to be shown the importance of having a gender balance in Parliament and to ensure that women appreciate how important it is for them to have adequate representation in Parliament to offer a female perspective and to take care of the interests of women in our society.
There was common agreement by all Parliamentarians at the Conference that the issue of underrepresentation by women needs to be urgently addressed. Other points that arose in the discussions amongst delegates were:
· The UN has set a target that at least 30% of Parliamentarians should be women
· Female representation should be increased in the legislatures of small states in order to empower women
· Women’s participation would have an impact across the policy making process which will assist democratic discussions
· Parliaments have a responsibility to make sure women are adequately represented
With the Small Branches Conference completed, the following day delegates attended the official opening of the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
The conference then proceeded with Regional Group Sessions (Councillor Green attended the British Islands and Mediterranean Region meeting) and four separate Workshops - Councillor Green attended the workshop on the ‘Politics of Constitution Making, The Role of Parliaments in relation to the People’.
On 13 September, Excursion Day, Councillor Green took part in a tour of Colombo, the largest city of Sri Lanka.
The final day of the conference was dedicated to the General Assembly, where Sir Alan Hazelhurst presented the Executive Committee’s report and stressed that the profile of the CPA should be raised to become a more important player. Thought should be given as to how delegates distil the messages coming out from this conference and Parliaments should pay more attention to enhancing and celebrating Commonwealth Day.
19 October 2012