Diversity, one of the key values of NALAS, is emphasized in all NALAS key strategic documents: “We are open, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and inclusive. We promote an equitable development of rural and urban municipalities, young and old, men and women”. All this is reflected in NALAS daily operations, events, publications and corporate communications.
Data collected by NALAS in 2011 showed a huge gender misbalance: only 8,74% of the mayors in SEE were female and 91,26% male. Even more striking was the fact that three of the countries did not have a single female mayor. Therefore, in its new Strategic Plan 2013-2017, NALAS puts a larger accent on participation of women and youth in local life.
The new strategy includes:
- Promoting exchange of experience and successful projects among members;
- Scaling up national projects;
- Becoming an Ambassador of the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life;
- Engaging in promotion of participation of young people and women at local elections;
- Striving for a greater youth and gender balance in NALAS governing bodies;
- Developing publication policies for balanced representation of female and young issues;
- Including stories on women and young people in LG in NALAS communication materials: newsletter, digest, website;
- Including a section of gender and youth in NALAS Knowledge Tree;
- Establishing a Focal point on Gender and Youth in each NALAS member and through them a gender and youth network.
During its VIII General Assembly, held in April 2013 in Skopje, Macedonia, NALAS proposed that it becomes an ambassador of the European Charter on Equality of Women and Men in local life. The delegates unanimously supported this proposal. In June 2013, NALAS officially became an ambassador of the Charter.
The Charter was originally launched in 2006 by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and it is addressing local and regional governments of Europe, who are invited to sign it, and formally commit to the principle of equality of women and men, and to implement, within their territory, the commitments set out within the Charter.
The six fundamental principles of the Charter are:
- Equality of women and men constitutes a fundamental right
- To ensure the equality of women and men, multiple discrimination and disadvantage must be addressed
- The balanced participation of women and men in decision making is a pre-requisite of a democratic society
- The elimination of gender stereotypes is fundamental to achieving equality of women and men
- Integrating the gender perspective into all activities of local and regional government is necessary to advance equality of women and men
- Properly resourced action plans and programmes are necessary tools to advance equality of women and men
The Charter also describes the specific steps which should be carried out by the signatories in order to implement the provisions of the Charter.
By becoming an Ambassador of the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life NALAS supports CEMR in promoting the Charter among the associations and local governments of SEE, as well as boosting its implementation.
Other activities implemented by NALAS to promote gender and youth issues included:
- Survey on the activities of NALAS members in participation of women and youth in local government;
- Report on the existing literature on gender and youth, distributed to all NALAS members;
- Gender and youth section on NALAS Knowledge Tree;
- Ongoing gender-sensitive corporate communication (on the website, digests, newsletter);
- Showcasing SEE best practices in gender and youth;
- Putting gender and youth in the focus of the second NEXPO International Municipal Fair (25-27 September 2013, Rijeka and Opatija, Croatia)
As Moldova has some of the best practices in the gender area, at the last NALAS Board Meeting it has been decided that the Moldavian Association of Local Governments, CALM, leads NALAS group for promoting gender issues. 18% of Moldavian mayors are women and the Association has created a Women’s Network, which is the voice of women in local governance in Moldova. To read more about the Women’s Network, please check NALAS Newsletter and their video.