On February 22, 2021, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, touching upon the gender issue, at the main annual political event - the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council - among the outlined priorities of democratic transformations in Uzbekistan and the country's work within the UN Human Rights Council, noted: “In matters of gender policy, we intend to radically increase the role of women in the public, political and business life of the country".
It is known that the democratization of social development is impossible without the full participation of women in political life.
The regulatory framework concerning the participation of women in politics and electoral processes is determined primarily in international legal acts. For example, if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equal participation of women in political and electoral processes, based on the principles of non-discrimination and equal exercise of political rights, then the Convention on the Political Rights of Women and a number of other regional conventions stipulate that the exercise of such rights must be ensured without division into gender. In turn, article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clarifies that all citizens have the right not only to take part in public and political events, but also to vote and be elected in genuine periodic elections. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women affirms the right of women to hold “public office, as well as to exercise all public functions at all levels of government”.
In addition, article 7 of this convention establishes that the states parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country. In particular, they ensure that women, on equal terms with men, have the right to vote in all elections and public referendums, to be elected to all publicly elected bodies, and to participate in the formulation and implementation of government policies.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights establishes that no discrimination on the basis of sex is allowed in the exercise of the right to vote and public life, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women obliges states to take appropriate measures to eliminate any manifestation of such discrimination.
Women's right to full participation in all areas of public life remains one of the most important issues raised in the declarations and resolutions of the United Nations. In documents such as UN Economic and Social Council Resolution 1990/15 of 24 May 1990, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 2006 Commission on the Status of Women Agreed Conclusions and UN General Assembly Resolution 66/130 on women and their political participation life, governments call for measures aimed at a significant increase in the number of women in elected and appointed positions at all levels and areas of public and political activity in order to achieve equal representation of women and men.
States parties to international conventions share the responsibility for upholding and fulfilling these obligations across a range of institutions. The electoral authorities are responsible for ensuring that their actions and decisions are in line with their countries' international obligations.
The most progressive roadmap
The recognized most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women around the world is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted in September 1995 at the IV World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
As a result of the conference, which was attended by over 30 thousand activists, representatives of 189 countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
These historical documents are among the most important international documents in the field of gender equality. The Beijing Declaration enshrines the principles of freedom of choice and equality of opportunity. In particular, it states that all girls and women have the right to a life free from violence, to education, to participate in decision-making processes and to receive equal pay with men.
The Platform for Action is a plan of action to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It reaffirms the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and builds on the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and related resolutions adopted by the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly.
The Platform for Action has formulated comprehensive commitments in 12 critical areas of concern, including the participation of women in decision-making and power processes. These issues are considered very important and require due attention to ensure gender equality and the realization of women's rights in the political dimension. For each problem area, a road map has been developed, which defines strategic goals and concrete actions for the advancement of women.
Since the adoption of the Platform for Action, some progress has been made, success in empowering women.
In October last year, the jubilee 75th session of the UN General Assembly took place, within the framework of which the Summit dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the IV World Conference on Women was held.
As UN Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of UN-Women, Fumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, noted: “In 1945, the founding of the UN was a very important and courageous step. Then there was not a single woman among the heads of government and state. In 1995, at the time of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, there were 12 women leaders of governments and countries. Today there are 22 of them".
The proportion of women in parliament is growing
It should be noted that over the past years, active measures have been taken in Uzbekistan to ensure gender equality, as noted in her speech on the occasion of the Summit dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the IV World Conference on Women, Chairperson of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tanzila Narbaeva, Chairperson of the Commission for Ensuring Gender Equality.
In particular, she emphasized that the authorities of Uzbekistan adopted about 20 legal acts in the field of protection and empowerment of women, developed a Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality for the Period up to 2030, and also introduced a special procedure according to which all new draft laws are analyzed from a gender perspective. ... In addition, Tanzila Narbaeva noted that the number of women in the government, their participation in public affairs and decision-making is growing. The number of women in the Uzbek parliament has doubled.
In Uzbekistan, at the level of legislation and state policy, mechanisms have been created to ensure and protect women's rights, including political ones.
In order to implement (including the provisions of international) legal acts that establish basic human rights standards, Article 18 of the Constitution enshrines gender equality before the law, prohibits both gender discrimination in the exercise of rights and freedoms, and their restriction. According to the Basic Law of the country, citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan have the right to participate in the management of the affairs of society and the state, both directly and through their representatives. Such participation is carried out through self-government, referendums and the democratic formation of state bodies, as well as the development and improvement of public control over the activities of state bodies.
The logical continuation of the provisions of the Constitution is reflected in the electoral legislation.
In particular, the Electoral Code, the Law "On the Referendum of the Republic of Uzbekistan" stipulates that a citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan who reaches 18 years of age on voting day has the right to participate in the electoral actions provided for by law and in other ongoing elections, as well as procedures for the preparation and conduct of a referendum. Moreover, he has the right to elect, participate in a referendum, regardless of origin, social and property status, race and nationality, gender, education, language, attitude to religion, type and nature of occupation.
Thus, in fact, the participation of women in the electoral process in our country from the point of view of its legal regulation is no different from the participation of men.
The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On guarantees of equal rights and opportunities for women and men" enshrines the provision of equal rights and opportunities for women and men to be elected to representative bodies of power, as well as when nominating candidates for deputies from political parties.
There are no limits
The Electoral Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan contributes to further expanding the opportunities for women to participate in all stages of the preparation and conduct of elections.
Under the code, women can have a real impact on political decision-making. The participation of women in elections provides access to their representation in government bodies.
There are no restrictions for women to run as candidates in elections, to campaign and to be elected to representative bodies of power.
At the same time, an additional guarantee of the participation of women in Uzbekistan in the electoral process is the legislative consolidation of state guarantees of equal rights and freedoms for men and women, providing for the so-called gender representation - 30 percent of women from the total number of candidates nominated by parties. This is important, since there are great opportunities for women to run for parliament, which helps to defend their rights and interests at the political level.
The consistent application of the gender quota yielded results in the 2019 parliamentary elections. For the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, elected women deputies made up 32 percent of the total number of elected deputies to the Legislative Chamber, 25 percent - members of the Senate. The number of women in the national parliament has reached the level set in the UN recommendations.
Significant results of reforms
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in 2020, speaking at the ceremony dedicated to International Women's Day, said: “Currently, as a result of the ongoing large-scale democratic reforms, the activity of women in social and political processes is increasing. This was once again demonstrated by the elections to the country's parliament and local Kengashes held in December last year ”.
It was noted that for the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, the election results were in line with the UN recommendations regarding the numerical representation of women in the national parliament. In terms of the number of women-deputies, the parliament of our country rose to 37th place among 190 national parliaments of the world, whereas 5 years ago Uzbekistan occupied 128th place in this rating.
The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On guarantees of equal rights and opportunities for women and men" requires a gender balance in the elected administration. The representation of women in elected bodies has increased, including in election commissions at all levels. Changes in the composition of the CEC in 2019 resulted in an increase in the number of women from 19 percent to 33 percent.
The most active, authoritative representatives of the public have an even greater chance of being delegated to the precinct election commission as representatives of makhalla gatherings of citizens, trade unions, societies of disabled people, veteran organizations and others. They act as election observers as representatives from citizens' self-government bodies.
Thus, during the 2019 election campaign, there was an increase in the participation of women in election commissions for the election of deputies to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis: women made up 46 and 49 percent of the composition of district and precinct election commissions, respectively.
Increasing the role of women in Uzbekistan in political processes and expanding their participation in the 2019 election campaign has also received international recognition.
The 2019 OSCE / ODIHR Election Observation Mission Final Report highlights:
• Compliance with a gender quota of 30 percent of the total number of candidates nominated by each party; the nomination by all parties of 310 female candidates (41 percent);
• Increase in the number of women in the Legislative Chamber (by 16%): the number of women in the new parliament has doubled (48 women, or 32%);
• An increase in the number of women in elected bodies: in 2019, the number of women members of the CEC increased from 3 to 7, women accounted for half of the members of precinct election commissions.
It is gratifying to note that in December 2020, the first Forum "The Role of Women Parliamentarians in the Development of Uzbekistan" was held in Tashkent. Its high practical significance lies in the fact that it provided an excellent opportunity for an open discussion of the entire range of issues of full participation of women in solving political and socio-economic problems, which is a prerequisite for economic progress, democratic development and stability in our society.
Among the key tasks of achieving equal participation of women in the political sphere of Uzbekistan are raising awareness, providing public and civic education for women and men in order to improve their understanding of the importance of women's participation in political processes, disseminating information on international and national commitments and agreements in the field of gender equality, including national legislation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
In addition, activities such as strengthening existing women's organizations, civil society organizations, the media and academia to enhance women's political participation through the exchange of practical and good practices are essential. As well as ensuring equal representation of women and men as candidates or other political figures in terms of coverage of their activities in the media.
In general, in recent years, a colossal work has been done in Uzbekistan to ensure gender equality, the participation of women in the public, political and business life of the country. And this work continues consistently.
permanent member of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan