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Women's advocates call for new political gender benchmarks

Women's advocates call for new political gender benchmarks

One in five National Assembly members are now women, but local NGOs say the govt can do more to encourage women's involvement

A COALITION of local NGOs has called on the government to take action to increase the number of women involved in politics by 2015, despite women's representation in the National Assembly increasing from 13 percent to around one in five in the current mandate.

The Committee to Promote Women in Politics (CPWP), which includes eight local election monitoring groups as members, applauded the recent increases, but said the government and political parties should set higher targets for women's involvement.

"We were surprised to see 23 women as provincial deputy governors and deputy district governors - positions women never held before the 2008 national election," said Serth Kerth Sreyleak, gender coordinator for the election monitor Comfrel, at a conference organised by CPWP Monday.

"We appreciated that the number of women in politics has increased, but the number is still small."

The strategy drawn up by the CPWP says that individual political parties should aim to increase the number of female commune council members from the current 15 percent to 25 percent, members of the National Assembly from 16.2 percent to 30 percent, ministers from 7.7 percent to 15 percent, and secretaries of state from 8.16 percent to 18 percent.

It also called on the government to increase the number of female provincial governors and deputy provincial governors, and for political parties to reshuffle their candidate lists to bring more women into prominent leadership positions.

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