International Women’s Day

Important progress has been made in terms of gender equality and the number of women elected and appointed as governmental and parliamentary representatives; however, women continue to face significant structural disadvantages in politics, parliaments, and judiciary systems worldwide. We must continue to promote equality in all of these domains. Our democratic institutions must and can be effective and efficient for: assuring equal participation of women, making quotas for women a reality, and guaranteeing technical and financial resources. Overall, these institutions can work towards incorporating gender equality and including strategic interests for women in programming and policy-making processes.

The Club de Madrid, composed of 86 democratic former Heads of State and Government from 59 countries, is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democratic values and leadership around the world. We consider the political participation of women to be a crucial component of democratic dialogue and social cohesion.

During the last years our projects that supported the political participation of women in Africa and the Andean region have demonstrated our commitment to gender Equality as an organization. We developed and reinforced democratic electoral processes through the empowerment of women parliamentarians and leaders in sub-Saharan Africa through the “African Women Leaders Project” (AWLP), which provides support to high-level women leaders in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda. This 21-month initiative, with funding support from the European Commission’s Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights and the Government of Canada (CIDA), contributed to the strengthening of female political leadership, greater public confidence in female political leaders, and increased political participation of women.

With the support from the governments of Australia, Belgium, Germany, Norway and Iceland since 2009, we are currently sustaining an alliance that includes 40 national women leaders, who are representatives of local women’s rights organizations and civil society. This group, known as the G40, is comprised of women leaders from seven countries across the Horn of Africa, the majority of which are new democracies and/or post-conflicts areas. A group of Club de Madrid members helps the G40 create strategies for increased participation and representation of women in political decision-making, particularly as it concerns peace and security matters in conflict and post-conflict contexts, under the framework of the United Nation Security Council Resolution 1325.

We at the Club de Madrid work under the premise that the security of women is the best indicator of the security of a nation. We firmly believe that people with first-hand knowledge of the causes and extreme effects of the on-ground security development situation should be included in the resolution of local security problems.

Equal participation of women is fundamental for Democratic and peace-making processes; it is both the means and the end goal for peace and stabilization. As my colleague Michelle Bachelet said in her Introductory Statement of the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “When women have voice and representation, change follows”. Working together we can bring about this change.


Wim Kok 

Prime Minister of The Netherlands (1994-2002)

President, Club de Madrid

Carlos Westendorp 

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Spain

Secretary General, Club de Madrid


 Talking points of Prime Minister Kim Campbell