In lead up to IWD, celebrating 10 women MPs who are active on IPU committees
As the IPU celebrates International Women’s Day, these are just some of the inspiring women MPs working actively in the IPU’s committees to promote gender equality, youth participation, peace and sustainable development.
Sahar Albazar, Egypt
President of the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians
Young people make up the majority of the world’s population, but only 2.6% of MPs are under 30, which is why the work of Ms. Albazar, an Egyptian MP and President of the Board of the IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians, is key.
The Forum works to increase the participation of young people in democracy, and to ensure that young voices are heard. Ms. Albazar is also Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Egyptian House of Representatives.
Cynthia López Castro, Mexico
Member of the IPU Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs
Ms. López Castro has been a member of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies since 2018, and is a youth champion.
In 2017, at the age of 30, she helped draft a new Constitution for Mexico City, and was one of the main advocates for including a youth quota in the city’s electoral law.
As a member of the IPU’s Committee on United Nations Affairs, Ms. López Castro works to ensure that at least 25% of candidates for public office at the federal level are under 29 years old.
Ms. Castro was a joint winner of the first ever Cremer-Passy Prize at the 145th IPU Assembly in Kigali for her work in promoting youth in parliament
Hasmik Hakobyan, Armenia
Vice-President of the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security
Ms. Hakobyan is the Vice-President of the IPU’s Committee on Peace and International Security, which provides Member Parliaments with the political framework to effectively respond to global threats, and to promote global peace and security.
Adji Diarra Mergane Kanouté, Senegal
Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee
Ms. Mergane Kanouté has a key role as Vice-President of IPU’s Executive Committee, helping to oversee its administration and making recommendations to the Governing Council. The committee assesses candidates for the position of Secretary General, proposes the annual work programme and budget, and ensures that decisions by the Assembly and Governing Council are realized.
Ms. Mergane Kanouté is also a member of the National Assembly of Senegal, where 43% of MPs are women – the third-best representation in Africa. In 2010, Senegal also became the second nation in Africa, after Rwanda, to pass a gender parity bill requiring 50% of political party candidates to be women.
Nnaniki Welhemina Tebogo Makwinja, Botswana
Member of the IPU Committee on Middle East Questions
Since 1987, the IPU’s Committee on Middle East Questions has brought MPs from the region around the table. Ms. Makwinja, an MP from Botswana, serves as part of the 12-person Committee alongside ex-officio members from Israel and Palestine.
Agnes Mulder, Netherlands
President of the IPU Standing Committee on Sustainable Development
Ms. Mulder is an MP from the Netherlands. She serves as the President of the IPU’s Committee on Sustainable Development, working to improve the lives and well-being of the world’s citizens and the planet, eliminate poverty, and ensure sustainable development for all.
Ms. Mulder also supports gender parity, and took part in the plenary on the topic at the 145th IPU Assembly, discussing the effects of war and police brutality on women.
Millie Odhiambo, Kenya
Vice-President of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians
As Vice-President of the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Ms. Odhiambo works globally to defend MPs in cases where their rights have been violated.
An MP since 2007, Ms. Odhiambo was described by the UN as one of the country’s “fearless politicians”. During her time in office, she has helped to usher in Kenya’s new Constitution (in 2010) and has introduced legislation improving the rights of women and children.
Deborah O’Neill, Australia
Asia-Pacific member of the IPU Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Ms. O’Neill is committed to human rights and religious freedoms. As the female representative for Asia-Pacific on the IPU’s Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law, she is part of a 12-member team that leads vital work encompassing everything from monitoring adherence to the Geneva Conventions, to supporting the campaign to end statelessness by 2024.
Batsukh Saranchimeg, Mongolia
Vice-President of the IPU Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights
Ms. Saranchimeg, a Mongolian MP, is the Vice-President of the IPU’s Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.
The committee analyses threats and challenges to democracy, proposing parliamentary action that is adopted by all IPU Member Parliaments. Ms Saranchimeg’s role places her at the forefront of the IPU’s work on new technology and its role within democracy.
Ms. Lesia Vasylenko, Ukraine
President of the IPU Bureau of Women Parliamentarians
A lawyer and politician, Ms. Vasylenko serves as a People’s Deputy of Ukraine – a member of parliament – in the 9th Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, as well as holding the presidency of the IPU’s Bureau of Women Parliamentarians.
The Bureau organizes the work of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, which focuses on gender issues, develops a sustained programme on women’s causes, and promotes greater participation of women MPs in senior roles.
Ms. Vasylenko, as a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, was also a joint winner of IPU’s first Cremer-Passy Prize in 2022 in recognition of the institution’s commitment to parliamentary duties despite the ongoing war.