We believe in the tremendous impact women MPs can have when combining their strengths, energies and experiences. We were the first organization to provide platforms for women MPs to meet and exchange ideas and experiences at a global level, and now provide unique ways for them to work together to draw more women into politics and help their parliaments become gender-sensitive institutions. We also give all MPs the chance to learn more about the status of women in their own and other regions, and boost their work in the interest of equality.
Women MPs began to meet within the framework of IPU events in the late 1970s. The first women's meeting to be held informally during an IPU institutional conference took place in 1978. This led to the creation in 1986 of what is now called Forum of Women MPs. Since then, growing numbers of women have participated in our events.
The Forum of Women MPs is a whole-day event, held on the eve of IPU Assemblies, so women can decide on strategies and express their views and concerns. The Forum brings together women MPs from around the world for lively and constructive debates. The Bureau of Women MPs was established as a permanent structure to organize activities and ensure continuity from one Assembly to the next.
In 2005, we organized the first IPU Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament. The meeting now takes place every year, providing women in the highest decision-making positions of parliament a regular forum and opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences.
We also facilitate global exchanges between women MPs through the iKNOWPolitics virtual network.
At the national level, the IPU supports women’s access to and influence in parliaments, including through the establishment and functioning of women’s parliamentary caucuses. These have proven to be a valuable means for women to amplify their voices in male-dominated parliaments.