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Women in Power

Women account for approximately two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty, but are being shut out of decision making that has a profound impact on their lives and those of their families. At VSO we see this as an injustice, so we’re campaigning for increased involvement of women in decision making at all levels.

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Take Action to end this injustice and support gender equality. Help women to play a role in politics and public life.

Women still remain unheard in many parts of the world.

All over the world, women suffer the most from poverty, but have the least say in what is done to tackle it. They account for approximately two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty, but are being shut out of decision-making that has a profound impact on their lives and those of their families.

Globally, only 20% of parliamentarians are female. You can help women have a say and make decisions about their own future. 

You can help end this injustice today.

Our recommendations include:

  • A standalone goal on empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality
  • A target on eliminating discrimination against women, and increasing the participation and influence of women at all levels of public and political life
  • Specific indicators to measure real progress towards achieving the goal and target

Increasing women’s participation in decision-making has the potential to improve the lives of countless men and women living in poverty around the world.  We need to seize the opportunity that the post-2015 framework presents to drive forward progress on this critical issue. 

The next global summit where world leaders will gather for the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) starts on 10 March. For two weeks, these leaders will discuss their case for women’s future participation in politics and public life. What is decided at this meeting will set the scene for all the debates and discussions over the next six months. Help fight the statistics so that the UN’s post-2015 development framework ensures there are more Women in Power!

Past campaign success

On 10 September, VSO launched its Parliamentary campaign, Women in Power, calling for the UK government to lead the way in setting a new global target on gender equality and women’s empowerment. VSO volunteers and supporters met and wrote to their MPs about the impact women can have when they have the opportunity to play a role in decision-making at local and global level.

Thanks to our VSO supporters, MPs shared our message with Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, who took the critical issue of gender inequality to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on 25 September 2013.

On 25 September 2013 the 68th United Nations General Assembly was held in New York where world leaders gathered to discuss progress on the MDGs as well as the focus for the post-2015 development agenda. All UN Member states agreed to an outcome document which recognises the importance of women’s empowerment, that gender equality and women’s participation are recognised as central to both the completion of the MDGs and the establishment of any future framework aimed at eradicating poverty.

Whilst this commitment to gender equality is recognised as central to the post-2015 agenda, the next two years are critical, we must continue to put pressure on the UK Government, UN bodies and with our country offices advocate for a standalone gender goal, a target on women’s participation and influence and meaningful indicators which measure both qualitative and quantitative change.


Women in Power: beyond access to influence in a post-2015 world - August 2013 (Full report) (4 page summary)

Advancing women's participation & influence in political & public life through the post-2015 framework - VSO Briefing Note, March 2013 

Advancing Equality in Women's Participation & Influence in Public Life through the Post‐2015 Framework - Horner & Stokes – Inequalities Discussion Paper, November 2012

Achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Post-2015 Framework – Gender and Development Network (GADN) Report, January 2013

Media coverage and press releases

News articles on women's enpowerment

Press release

DFID vision for women and girls an important commitment and action must tackle harmful norms and attitudes

VSO says excluding women from politics is a barrier to ending global poverty

VSO blogs

What women want - March 2014

Big talk in the Big Apple - but will the UN deliver on MDGs? - September 2013

Engaging men is the key to women's empowerment - July 2013 

Tacking discrimination against widows in Cameroon - July 2013

Musings on Monrovia: equality in the post-2015 agenda - February 2013

Beyond 2015: High time to shift the balance of decision-making power - February 2013