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Gender-Sensitive Parliaments

In 2008, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) began a collaborative project to examine the gender sensitivity of parliaments around the world, working in partnership with the UNDP Parliamentary Development Initiative in the Arab Region and with International IDEA in Latin America.
The project builds on the IPU’s 30 years of research on gender and parliament, and directly follows on from the IPU’s 2008 research publication Equality in Politics: A Survey of Women and Men in Parliaments. A clear finding of that survey was that women are overwhelmingly the main drivers of change in terms of gender equality in parliament, and that there was scope to lay some of the responsibility for that change with parliaments more broadly.
The project’s aim was to investigate the  gender sensitivity of parliaments in terms of their operational and institutional culture.  A parliament’s operational culture is reflected in different ways: the facilities available, sitting times, budget allocations and services. Institutional culture refers to the unwritten rules, norms and mores adopted over time in institutions primarily designed by men.
The project also set out to distil current best practices for mainstreaming gender in policy development and parliamentary work and to examine the mechanisms best suited for that purpose, such as parliamentary committees, caucuses of women parliamentarians or the use of gender budgeting.
Three sets of questionnaires (see Appendix II) were designed in 2008 following consultation with parliamentarians and experts on gender and parliament. Ninety-five responses to the first questionnaire were received from parliamentary authorities in 77 countries. Seventy-one parliamentary party groups from  42 countries completed the second questionnaire, and 123 parliamentarians from 50 countries responded to the third. The responses came in equal numbers from men and women members (see Appendix I).
In addition to the questionnaires, face-to-face interviews were held with men and women parliamentarians from every region of the world, many as part of country case studies prepared between 2008 and 2009. Countries
were selected on the basis of recent innovations and emerging good practices in their respective parliaments. National case studies as well as a regional report were prepared for each region. All of that research is reflected in this report.