On October 14-18, the Tauride Palace in Saint Petersburg holds the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly. About 2000 delegates from over 150 parliaments from all over the world take part in it. This event became one of the largest ones in the history of the IPU Assembly. Saint Petersburg literally turned into the capital of the international parliamentarism. 


A press conference was held on the eve of such a large-scale event. During the press conference Saber Chowdhury, President of Inter-Parliamentary Union, Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, and Martin Chungong, Secretary General of IPU, were the speakers. According to them, the Assembly this year covers issues related to the use of science, technology and innovations for improving the lives of people, and interaction of the state with the private sector, including in the fields of renewable energy, international security, finance, and trade. At the same time, one of the main topics of the event is devoted to cultural and religious diversity, the unification of people for peace. In addition, within the framework of the Assembly, a petition of the IPU on the promotion of democratic societies is to be signed. The implementation of the sustainable development strategy adopted by the UN will be an important component of the work. 


In terms of the press conference, the journalists of the Eurasian Women’s Community asked the speakers about the role of women in solving social, political and economic problems. Saber Chowdhury stressed the importance of the presence of women in all fields of activity to achieve the goals of the sustainable development program. According to him, today the initiative called Every Woman Every Child is implemented. It is aimed at ensuring the health, well-being and safety of children, teenagers and women, as well as at involving women and youth in the political sphere. 


The President of Inter-Parliamentary Union paid special attention to an interesting fact. This year, many women parliamentarians are represented among the participants of the Assembly. In addition, according to him, for the first time in parliamentary practice, more than 50% of speakers speaking at the Assembly are women. He says that the IPU promotes women's rights, and today women are represented in all structures of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. According to its rules, each delegation must include at least one woman. Otherwise, the delegation will lose one vote in a general vote. However, it is important to understand that the Union seeks to ensure that an equal number of women and men are represented in the political sphere. 


Valentina Matvienko supported his point of view. According to her, today more and more women occupy leading positions. Their representation in various spheres grows with time, and this is the response to society's requests. She says, that gender equality must be achieved through the creation of the state conditions for women so as they could choose whether to devote themselves fully to the family or to combine household affairs with professional activities, realizing their potential in this or that sphere. In fact, there is a positive trend in this area. Today many countries of the world are striving to provide women with this choice. The Chairperson of the Federation Council said that this year, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, a National Strategy for Women was developed and adopted in Russia. The document contains real support mechanisms for women, allowing creation of conditions for the full and equal participation of women in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres of society. 


The speaker noted that the First Eurasian Women's Forum held in 2015 in Saint Petersburg was a powerful impetus to the development of the women's movement in Russia. It allowed to actualize the women's agenda, to unite women not only of our country but those of the whole world in order to achieve common global goals. Valentina Matvienko invited women parliamentarians to take part in the Second Eurasian Women's Forum. This event is to be held in September 2018. 


Talking about the role of women in solving global problems, the speakers noted that two women from Uruguay and Mexico were selected candidates to head the IPU this year. 

“Today we already know that the person who will take my place will be a woman. And I'm very happy about it”, said Saber Chowdhury. 


Undoubtedly, the topic of the role of women in the political, economic and social life of the society was actively discussed not only at the press conference, but also during the Assembly itself. Chaired by Galina Karelova, Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, the 26th session of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians took place in terms of the Assembly. On the first day of the Assembly, the meetings of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and the Gender Partnership Group were held. There was also a general discussion devoted to the topic of financial control and carrying out the oversight function for the common good. 


“It is worth recalling that before 1945 there was only one woman speaker in the world, she was in the Austrian parliament. Nowadays 51 women preside in one of the chambers of 193 parliaments. 77 of those parliaments have two chambers. We came very close to the fact that a quarter of the world's speakers will soon be women. This is a difficult and still ongoing way of recognizing our abilities and potential. However, this is a successful way forward, and we can’t help but admit this. It is encouraging that 17 delegations at our Assembly are headed by women speakers”, said Galina Karelova. 

It is interesting that after discussion of gender equality and optimum percentage of both sexes in parliament and at other governing structures, the participants of the session came to the following conclusion. It is extremely important not only to promote women in the political sphere, but also to observe the balance, not to detract from opinions of men being significant as well. 

In terms of the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, the journalists from the news agency of the Eurasian Women's Community interviewed delegates from 50 countries of the world. 

Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov