Local data essential to gender equality

The UCLG Standing Committee on Gender Equality teams up with UN Women to call on Member States to gather data on women in local government.

It might come as a surprise but there is currently no standardized system gathering data on the number of locally elected women across the world. The main reasons for this lack of data are the vast number of local governments and the complexity of their structures worldwide.

National associations of local governments have been gathering data on women’s representation in local institutions over recent decades, but this is done irregularly and without the standard methodology that would be required to feed into a valid development indicator. 

The representation of women in leadership positions in local government is not doing as well as one might think based on the exceptional cases that reach us through the media. Fewer than 6% of mayors are women and the percentage of female elected representatives worldwide is around 23%. Assessing the real situation and reporting regularly will be essential to implement policies to drive equality and motive more women to participate in politics. 

Over the past two decades, UCLG and UN Women have been advocating for this challenge to be tackled globally in order to provide a full and accurate picture of the state of women’s equality in local democracy.

The newly adopted SDG5 on gender equality, in particular indicator 5.1.1, is an opportunity to take this step and to foster the political and technical commitment to gather this information on a regular basis worldwide. 

At an expert meeting in New York 3-4 November, UCLG Deputy Secretary General, Emilia Saiz, transmitted to UN Women the willingness of the Chair of the UCLG Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to raise awareness of the need for disaggregated data on the representation of women in local and regional government.

UCLG is keen to further develop its alliance with UN Women and sister networks within the Global Taskforce to rally the political and financial support needed to ensure the development of indicator 5.1.1.

The UCLG Standing Committee on Gender Equality will actively participate in the Commission on the Advancement of Women taking place in New York in March 2017.