Activities and instruments

Promoting women’s access to justice and jurisdiction, political participation and co-determination

Referendum in South Sudan: Ink is used to mark a finger tip of those who have already voted

Traditional, often patriarchal values frequently influence the attitudes and views of men and women and their relationship to one another. These values are reflected in laws which ignore the rights and entitlements of women – especially those relating to marriage, divorce, rape, violence and inheritance. Development cooperation is therefore involved in supporting the reform of such laws.

Surveys show that many women are denied even the most basic voice – for instance on issues of health: instead of the woman, her husband or even sometimes her mother-in-law, decides whether medical treatment is needed, and what form this should take.

A priority area of German development policy is supporting women in learning about their rights and how they can utilise them, as well as fostering their political participation within society. Women’s initiatives in many countries receive support for their educational activities and lobbying.

Political participation

Training programme for trade unionists in Dhaka, Bangladesh

In many countries women’s political representation is still not commensurate with their actual social and economic role: in recent years the proportion of women in national parliaments has increased, but nonetheless on average they account for only 23 per cent of all parliamentarians around the world (June 2016).

Germany has agreed to promote democracy, civil society and public administration as a priority area in its cooperation with more than half of its partner countries. In this area of activity Germany is also working hard towards political equality between women and men. In 2002, Germany became a member of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), which helps to boost women’s parliamentary representation.

Another priority area of German development cooperation is the distribution of government spending. In order to accommodate the specific needs and interests of women it is important that governments not only provide improved access to markets for women, but also increase investments in time-saving infrastructure such as transportation, water and energy, and childcare.

Detailed information about German activities in regard to good governance and democracy can be found here.

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