Political Parties and governments should provide mentoring programmes to encourage women and girls to stand for elective positions.
This was one of the four recommendations endorsed by the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians at the ongoing week-long 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo.
The lawmakers also sanctioned the establishment of an Alumni and Mentoring Trust Fund, to provide resources to CWP Steering Committees to assist in developing and implementing mentoring programmes for sitting women MPs.
The meeting further agreed that all parliaments should strive for in-house capacity building and mentoring of new parliamentarians.
The legislators added that inducting, orientating and building capacity of members of parliament is a necessary intervention if CWP and the institutions they serve in are also to become effective.
The recommendations were presented by Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods(UK); Dr. Lesley Clark, CWP Alumni Champion and Former Member of Parliament of the Queensland Parliament; Hon. Solomon Lechesa Tsenoli(South Africa) and Smt. Aparajita(India).
Blackman-Woods said that several reports from international institutions recommend mentorship programmes as a key strategy for encouraging women’s representation.
“Politics is tough; let us not beat around the bush. We get angry, depressed and if you know that someone is always there for you, it is very important,” Blackman-Woods said.
Lechesa Tsenoli said that being an MP is monopolized by men and as such when women increasingly get involved, they get keenly scrutinized than their male counterparts.
“In mentoring new MPs, the strength that we are building will also be felt in the communities where we live and the institutions we belong to. Society needs that,” Tsenoli said.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Dr. Fehmida Mirza stressed the need to strengthen women parliamentary caucuses saying that they play a vital role in mentoring MPs.
“Women MPs need to have the confidence to be able to execute their role. Parliamentarians are in the highest forum so they need mentorship,” she said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga advocated for the strengthening of women caucuses, saying that the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association has played a big role in building the capacity of women MPs.