Women attend a village council meeting in India. A voluntary pledging platform has been launched to increase women’s political and economic participation. Photo by: Gaganjit Singh Chandok / U.N. Women / CC BY-NC-ND

The Netherlands will set up a fund for women’s organizations in Middle East and North Africa. This is part of the country’s pledge under a new initiative launched Monday (Sept. 24) at the sidelines of the 27th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The Equal Futures Partnership is a voluntary pledging platform for governments, the nonprofit sector, multilateral stakeholders and businesses. It aims to increase women’s political and economic participation through a wide range of actions, from policy reforms to the introduction of new programs for women.

Australia, which is one of 13 founding members of the initiative, has pledged to establish a National Center of Excellence aimed at reducing sexual assault and domestic violence against women. Benin, meanwhile, will introduce a new electoral law strengthening women’s political participation.

The European Union has pledged to implement programs for women in countries transitioning to democracy, and support initiatives against female genital mutilation among its member states and other parts of the world.

Peru, meanwhile, has promised to “modify” election and political party laws to provide more opportunities for women to participate in politics. The current legislated quota for women in Parliament in the Latin American country is at 28 percent, according to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on gender equality and development.

Jordan, meanwhile, has set a target: increase the percentage of women in the workforce from 14.7 percent to 25 percent by 2015.

U.N. Women and the World Bank have also pledged support for the partnership. Latvia, Thailand, Croatia, Italy and Belgium have signed letters of intent to join the partnership at its next meeting in April at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A system will be put in place to ensure progress on the pledges and see “where it is having positive results,” U.S. Ambassador-at-Large For Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer said at a press briefing.

“All the commitments we are making today are voluntary, so we are called to hold each other accountable,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the partnership’s launch. “None of us has all the answers, but together we can make real, measurable progress.”

Clinton, who places special attention to women and girls in her advocacies, also launched the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council on Monday. The council will connect U.S. and Pakistani institutions to provide women training in the areas of financial management, product development, entrepreneurship, leadership and market access. Members will include Pakistani and U.S. business and organizations, according to a press release.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.