December 9, 2020
ParlAmericas participates in the International Seminar on Constitutional Justice and Open Parliament hosted by the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) of Mexico
The International Seminar on Constitutional Justice and Open Parliament was held on Monday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 8 by the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) of Mexico with the participation of Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), the immediate past president of ParlAmericas. The seminar assessed progress made in terms of justice and open parliament in Mexico and included the participation of national and international panelists representing judicial and legislative institutions, public institutions, civil society organizations, and academia.
Keynote addresses and panels held on December 7 included a panel on 'The Institutionalization of Open Parliament in Latin America,' moderated by Commissioner Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena of INAI, which focused on exploring various perspectives on open parliament and how related practices have been improved across the region, as well as the region's long-standing challenges. On this topic, Member of the National Assembly Cabezas stated, “At ParlAmericas, we've been able to incorporate an open parliament policy in many countries (…) As former president of the National Assembly, I promoted significant changes in the Organic Law of the Legislative Function to ensure that our open parliament policy wouldn't depend on personal or individual initiatives by legislative leaders, but constitute a mandatory framework and system for the way things are done.” Senator Mónica Fernández (Mexico), president of the Governance Committee and the Technical Committee of the Legislative Transparency and Open Parliament Observatory, highlighted recent efforts within the Senate to promote concrete action and proposals based on a diagnosis presented by the Autonomous University of Mexico as part of the Technical Committee's work. In this regard, Ms. Mercedes de los Santos, Director of Citizenry & Government Institutions for Directorio Legislativo Foundation, noted that parliaments are capable of ensuring that a diversity of voices are represented in the elaboration of public policy—an especially important factor within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lastly, Professor Guillermo Cejudo Ramírez of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching of Mexico stressed the importance of focusing on substantial open parliament initiatives addressing not only transparency, but also forums for public deliberation and legislators working toward these goals in a proactive search for stakeholders whose voices are not being heard.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
December 9, 2020
In the wake of the passing of Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador Bairon Valle, former member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, ParlAmericas expresses its sincere condolences and sentiments of solidarity to the family of Member of the National Assembly Valle, the Members of the National Assembly of Ecuador, and the Ecuadorian people.
Member of the National Assembly Valle’s sense of responsibility and commitment to democratic principles will be part of his valued legacy. He will be remembered for his personal warmth, kindness, temperament, and commitment, especially throughout his time as a representative of Ecuador on the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, where he actively participated and made valuable contributions to the vision and strategy of our institution. He will also be remembered for his contributions to our various meetings, study visits, and high-level interparliamentary gatherings and for his work in favour of legislative openness in the National Assembly of Ecuador.
ParlAmericas and the parliamentarians who had the honour of sharing in work gatherings and exchanges with Member of the National Assembly Valle will be eternally grateful.
December 4, 2020
From December 2 to 4, the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, in collaboration with its Association of Legislative Consultants and Budget and Financial Inspection Consultants (Aslegis), Association of Consultants and Attorneys of the Brazilian Federal Senate (Alesfe), and Union of the Servers of the Brazilian Congress and of the Federal Court of Accounts (Sindilegis), hosted the international seminar on the “Role of the Legislative Power in the Evaluation of Public Policies.”
On December 3, Ms. Emilie Lemieux, Deputy Director – Open Parliament and Sustainable Development, represented ParlAmericas in a Round Table on Public Policy Evaluation alongside Mr. Richard Kelly, House of Commons Library, United Kingdom; Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director of Governance and Institutions at the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy; and Prof. Fabiana Soares, Legislab, Federal University of Minas Gerais. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of parliamentary oversight of governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; the value of fiscal scrutiny, where money is used as a lens to evaluate the effectiveness of public policies; the usefulness of creating mechanisms to evaluate the implementation of adopted legislation; the relevance of designing methodologies for drafting legislation that foster access to information and accountability; and improving the curriculum in legal training programs for lawyers who draft legislation.
Ms. Lemieux shared the key challenges and strategies provided by member parliaments at the ParlAmericas Virtual Meeting on Strengthening Oversight of Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic and explained, “One of the mechanisms by which parliaments can strengthen their oversight capacity is through Open Parliament Action Plans or Legislative Commitments in Open Government Action Plans – through the Open Government Partnership. In previous years the Congress of Brazil has opted for the latter, which has led to a web portal with tools on openness, transparency and participation that have been used by many local legislatures, and the current development of tools to improve transparency of the progress of bills through the legislative process. Such plans, in which the commitments are co-created by parliaments and civil society representatives, are also an opportunity to work on strengthening accountability measures, which can reinforce parliaments’ oversight work. They aim to improve parliament’s functions to improve trust between citizens and public institutions; and this trust is crucial as nations recover and rebuild following this global pandemic.”
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, go to www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
November 30, 2020
ParlAmericas held its 17th Plenary Assembly entitled Towards a Circular Economy, gathering parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean to analyze the implementation of circular economic models within the context of post-pandemic recovery processes in the hemisphere
With the support of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica as host parliament, ParlAmericas held its 17th Plenary Assembly on November 13, 16, 20, and 27, which involved a series of virtual activities devoted to the circular economy—a systemic approach to sustainable development designed to benefit society, the environment, and the economy.
The 17th Plenary Assembly gathered parliamentarians from 26 countries of the Americas and the Caribbean to assess, alongside subject-matter experts, the importance of the circular economy and its pertinence in the economic recovery processes needed to overcome the serious socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across the region.
As is customary, the opening plenary session included the presentation of accountability reports from the ParlAmericas Board of Directors. This year, annual reports by the President of ParlAmericas, as well as the three network presidents, were presented via video, with subtitles in every official ParlAmericas language. These were shared with member parliaments and published on the ParlAmericas website and on social media on Friday, November 13.
The working session held in English and French on Monday, November 16, included welcoming remarks from Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís (Costa Rica), also a member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George, member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors. In addition, Senator Rosa Gálvez (Canada), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change for North America, moderated the session, which included the participation of content experts Mr. David Oswald, Founder and President of Design + Environment, and Ms. Virginia Rose Losada, Specialist in Sustainable Enterprise Development and Job Creation for the International Labour Organization (ILO). A subsequent discussion was held between legislators, parliamentary staff, and other participants who exchanged ideas and projects on the circular economy and posed questions to the panelists. Lastly, Senator Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for the Caribbean, closed the working session.
At the working session in Spanish and Portuguese held on November 20, Member of the Legislative Assembly Paola Vega (Costa Rica) welcomed the participants along with Member of the National Assembly Cabezas, who also participated as a panelist in her role as author of the Circular Economy bill of the National Assembly of Ecuador. Mr. Luis Yáñez of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean moderated the meeting, which included the participation of specialists Ms. Adriana Zacarías, Head and Global Coordinator of Global Opportunities for SDGs and Regional Coordinator of Resource Efficiency at the United Nations Environment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Ms. Ana Belén Sánchez, Regional Green Jobs Specialist for the ILO. Parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, and young representatives of civil society organizations then participated in an exchange on initiatives and projects related to the circular economy. Senator Silvia Giacoppo (Argentina), member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, concluded the working session.
The closing plenary session held on Friday, November 27, included welcoming remarks by Vice-President of the Legislative Assembly Jorge Luis Fonseca (Costa Rica) and host of the 17th ParlAmericas Plenary Assembly, and by Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas. There was a subsequent round of presentations by country moderated by Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís (Costa Rica); each parliament designated a legislator to share the progress made by their parliament in the transition towards a circular economy and a sustainable and equitable economic recovery. After the presentations, the Declaration of the Plenary Assembly was read and then adopted by the attending parliamentarians.
To conclude the plenary session, Ms. Alisha Todd, Director General of ParlAmericas, announced the results of the elections in which candidates were elected by acclamation. The outgoing President of ParlAmericas, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador) made a closing speech that highlighted various achievements by the organization during her tenure as president over the past year and wished much success to the President-elect, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay). Senator Ovelar, in turn, praised the leadership shown by Member of the National Assembly Cabezas and expressed her commitment towards continuing the institution’s promotion of parliamentary diplomacy in the inter-American system.
Regarding the pertinence of assessing alternative economic models, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), outgoing President of ParlAmericas, noted, “The circular economy benefits society, businesses, and the environment; it offers viable and sustainable alternatives for creating economic, social, and natural capital, and for reducing its impact on people and the environment.”
Vice-President of the Legislative Assembly José Luis Fonseca (Costa Rica), host of the meeting, stated, “We must understand that the traditional economy, based on the consumption of finite resources, needs to transition towards a sustainable model based on the well-being of society, on an economy that can allow us to regenerate the goods and services we produce; that's the great challenge we’re facing.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George, Vice-President-elect of ParlAmericas, highlighted, “This year, due to the pandemic, humanity’s connection with nature is clearer than ever, making it crucial to repair this relationship. The circular economy provides a new model by which we can break the connection between economic growth and environmental damage.”
In her closing statement, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President-elect of ParlAmericas, noted, “The pandemic has brought to the forefront the pressing need for high-level political action from States, and especially from parliaments.”
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
November 25, 2020
On Wednesday, November 25, on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the I International Gathering for a Women Parliamentarian Agenda was held. The gathering was organized by Member of Congress Arlette Contreras (Peru), and its objective was to share experiences and key normative advances in Latin American parliaments towards ending violence against women. It featured a distinguished panel of parliamentarians that included: Member of the Provincial Legislature Mercedes Trimarchi (Argentina); Senator Rosa Gálvez (Canada), vice-chair of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas; Member of the Chamber of Deputies Daniella Cicardini (Chile); Representative Irma Luz Herrera (Colombia); and Senator Antares Vázquez (Mexico), member of the Board of Directors of ParlAmericas.
Member of the National Assembly Karina Arteaga (Ecuador), vice-president for South America of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, also participated in this experts’ panel, giving remarks on the importance of a regional, joint agenda in which parliamentarians and civil society, including young people, work together and exchange experiences and strategies to counter the crisis of violence against women, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, as part of its commemoration of November 25, ParlAmericas launched a special interview with the activist and politician Minou Tavárez Mirabal, the daughter of Minerva Mirabal. The assassination of Minerva and her sisters, María Teresa and Patria, led to the declaration of November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The legacy of resistance of the Mirabal sisters during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic continues to serve as a source of inspiration for women around the world working to end violence against women. In the interview, which took place at the Mirabal Sisters’ House-Museum, Ms. Mirabal underscores the importance of persevering in social and political efforts to eradicate violence against women, an essential aspect of realizing gender equality.
Throughout this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (November 25 - December 10), ParlAmericas will be launching a series of interviews with parliamentarians from across the Americas and the Caribbean in which they share their perspectives on the theme of this year’s UNiTE 2020 campaign, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” These interviews - available on YouTube - are a collaboration with UN Women, the National Forum of Women in Political Parties of Panama (FONAMUPP, in Spanish), and Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL).
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
November 23, 2020
On November 23, 2020, young women from across Antigua and Barbuda took part in a historic, all-women simulated parliamentary debates of the House of Representatives and the Senate within the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda. These Sittings marked the culmination of the Young Women in Leadership – Antigua and Barbuda (YWiLAB) programme organized by ParlAmericas, Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL), and the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, in which more than 40 young women leaders between the ages of 18-25 from across the country participated.
The YWiL programme seeks to support young women in preparing for future leadership by providing training and education on political leadership, encouraging consideration of leadership and service from a transformational perspective, and creating a space to foster supportive communities of women and other allies. In line with these goals, the YWiLAB programme consisted of virtual and in-person training sessions that ran throughout October and November and focused on the programme’s core components: transformational leadership, gender equality and inclusive decision-making, parliamentary procedure, and strategies for effective leadership. The sessions were led by distinguished facilitators, including parliamentarians, civil society leaders, practitioners from various fields, and other leaders from Antigua and Barbuda and across the region.
During the YWiLAB Parliamentary Sittings, participants in the programme had the opportunity to apply their learning while serving as a parliamentarian or officer of parliament in a debate on a budget amendment bill developed through a gender-responsive budgeting process. The Bill considered by both chambers proposed funding reallocations among various ministries in line with identified gender equality priorities, which participants reviewed and shared responses on, drawing on their expertise and research and in line with their assigned role. Following the programme’s conclusion, participants are also encouraged to share the learning and skills gained within their communities.
This initiative was one in a series of such activities that will be organised in countries across the region, forming a core component of the ParlAmericas-CIWiL joint project to advance women’s political participation in the Caribbean, supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. The first YWiL was held in Trinidad and Tobago in March 2020 in partnership with the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.
Find more information on the initiative on social media using #YWiLAB, or by visiting the YWiL webpage on the CIWiL website.
November 20, 2020
The official launch and start of the co-creation processes for the 5th Action Plan for an Open and Transparent Congress in Colombia, organized by the Chamber of Representatives, took place on Thursday, November 12, 2020. The purpose of this activity was to bring together Colombian authorities and international guests to announce the development of the Open Parliament Action Plan to be implemented by the Chamber of Representatives, which will focus on strengthening the inclusion and participation of Afro-descendant populations in the legislative process. ParlAmericas participated in this event through Member of the Chamber of Deputies Javier Macaya (Chile), Vice-President of the Open Parliament Network.
The activity began with a presentation by Representative Germán Blanco (Colombia), President of the Chamber of Representatives, who highlighted the work done by Colombia in terms of legislative openness, including action plans and laws to strengthen this process, as well as the importance of focusing the plan on transparency and clear language. Meanwhile, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Macaya stressed that “the action plans are based on co-creation processes aimed at prioritizing, developing, and subsequently implementing commitments between parliamentarians, officials, and representatives of civil society. These processes not only generate greater confidence, but also allow us to come together to achieve the same goal.” Representative Astrid Sánchez (Colombia), Vice-President of the Chamber of Representatives, also participated and highlighted the importance of implementing an action plan that overcomes social and technological inequalities in order to reach the most marginalized sectors of Colombia, especially Afro-Colombian communities. Along the same lines, Representative Jhon Murillo (Colombia), President of the Afro-Colombian Legal Committee, underscored the value of an initiative that contributes to actions in favour of these communities, given the under-representation of Afro-Colombians in parliament and their exclusion from public policies reflected in the country’s budget.
Representative Milton Angulo (Colombia); Mr. Jorge Humberto Mantilla, Secretary General of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia; Mr. Carlos Eduardo Venegas, head of Internal Control of the Colombian Parliament; Ms. Sandra Milena Alvarado, coordinator of the 5th Action Plan; Mr. Francisco Herrero, resident director of the National Democratic Institute in Colombia; Mr. Alberto Almonacid of the Domopaz Foundation; and Ms. Mercedes de los Santos of the Directorio Legislativo Foundation, also took part in the discussion. The event ended with the announcement of co-creation boards that would meet in the following weeks, with the support of the Domopaz Foundation, the Directorio Legislativo Foundation, the National Democratic Institute and ParlAmericas.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
November 16, 2020
ParlAmericas participates in the Third Andean Meeting of Ibero-American Youth
Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín (Ecuador), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change, participated as a panelist in the Third Andean Meeting of Ibero-American Youth, organized by the NGO Jóvenes Iberoamericanos and held on November 9-13, 2020.
The dialogue gathered young speakers and leaders from Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela to address issues of regional interest related to education, gender equality, sustainability, peace-building, and circular agriculture.
Member of the National Assembly Marín made a presentation at the end of the event, on November 13, on the importance of youth participation in politics, particularly in areas related to gender equality and combatting climate change. In her speech, she highlighted ParlAmericas' commitment toward facilitating forums for youth participation in the region's parliaments, sharing experiences such as the first Young Women in Leadership program carried out in Trinidad and Tobago in March of this year (YWiLTT), and the 12th Gathering of the Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, Designing inclusive futures in partnership with youth, carried out via a series of online events in September and October of this year.
Member of the National Assembly Marín ended her presentation by calling upon the young attendees to engage in politics with proposals based on serving their communities. She also shared strategies that parliaments could implement to promote their participation, such as youth parliaments, political forums, and mentoring programs.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
November 3, 2020
ParlAmericas participates in the First Virtual Congress of the Youth Assembly of Panama
The First Virtual Congress of the Youth Assembly of Panama was held on October 27, 28, and 29, 2020 and was organized by the National Directorate for the Promotion of Citizen Participation of the National Assembly of Panama, with the support of ParlAmericas and the National Forum of Women in Political Parties (FONAMUPP, in Spanish). The congress gathered more than 250 members and former members of the Youth Assembly of Panama for a series of presentations by national and international speakers on subjects related to citizen participation, youth leadership, and adopting a gender perspective within parliamentary institutions and civil society organizations.
On the first day of the event, Tuesday, October 27, Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín (Ecuador), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change, sent a video greeting to the members of the Youth Assembly of Panama, emphasizing the importance of youth participation in key areas such as climate change and the promotion of gender equality. In her message, Ms. Marín encouraged the Youth Assembly to “engage in politics to serve, so that the voices that aren't being heard can be heard.”
Afterwards, Emilio Rodríguez, Gender Equality and Youth Program Officer for ParlAmericas, moderated a panel interviewing Selva Montealegre, an expert in diversity and inclusion and youth activist, on the importance of gender mainstreaming across institutions and organizations, with a focus on youth-led organizations.
On the second day of the event, Wednesday, October 28, Member of Congress Arlette Contreras (Peru) sent a video greeting to the members of the Youth Assembly of Panama and spoke of her own experience as a young parliamentarian, sharing her story on how her involvement in women’s rights activism led her to participate in politics. Ms. Contreras stated, “It is very important that the struggle for women's rights be prioritized by the State. That is why I have been promoting a women's agenda at the Congress of the Republic.”
On the last day of the event, Thursday, October 29, Honourable Representative Juan Carlos Losada (Colombia) expressed his support for the members of the Youth Assembly of Panama in a video that stressed the essential role of youth in our countries' development, noting that, in his case, it was environmental activism that motivated him to get involved in politics. Representative Losada called upon “all of our continent's youth, so that their participation can bring about the transformations we desire for Latin America.”
Subsequently, Natalí Casanova, Open Parliament Senior Program Officer for ParlAmericas, moderated a panel interviewing Emerson Salguero, director of the Guatemalan organization Involúcrate, which organizes programs and activities that promote youth involvement in politics. The interview addressed issues related to citizen participation and political activism, highlighting the importance of ensuring that these efforts be inclusive and egalitarian.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
October 30, 2020
The 5th Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) was hosted from October 26 to 30 by the Open Parliament e-Network a consortium composed of ParlAmericas, Directorio Legislativo, Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, National Democratic Institute, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and Westminster Foundation for Democracy, working together to support legislative openness globally.
More than 20 events were held, gathering more than 2,500 participants including parliamentarians, parliamentary staff and CSOs. The week included activities hosted by parliaments in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Indonesia, North Macedonia and Paraguay; and CSOs in Armenia, Mexico and Ukraine that provided an introduction to open parliament concepts, contributed to the development and implementation of legislative Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments and discussed digital strategies to ensure the continuity of these efforts during the pandemic, among other objectives. GLOW also coincided with the approval of a new Citizen Participation Regulation by the Congress of Chile, an innovative initiative stemming from a legislative commitment in Chile’s Action Plan to increase citizen participation in the legislative process.
A key takeaway of GLOW 2020 was featured in the week’s final session -- “Working towards an Open State” (available in English and Spanish) -- which brought together more than 80 representatives from parliaments, civil society and academia to explore opportunities for parliaments to further contribute to the implementation and oversight of national commitments within the OGP framework. Reinforcing the critical role of parliamentary openness in crisis situations, the webinar also identified the need for strengthened collaboration between the executive and the legislative and judicial branches of governments. The discussion was moderated by Paul Maassen, Chief Country Support at OGP, and led by Irina Pruidze, former Member of Parliament of Georgia; Paran Umar Tarawallie, clerk of the Parliament of Sierra Leone; Cara F. Zwibel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association; and Maria Liz Sosa Studotti, staff of the Senate of Paraguay.
An “Open State approach” considers open government challenges and opportunities holistically across all branches and levels of government and is an inspiring next step for the open parliament movement. However, it also requires stronger mechanisms for collaboration, participation and communication among the executive, judiciary and legislature. These mechanisms can take the form of national agreements of participation in the national open government multi-stakeholder forum, the inclusion of commitments on open parliament and open justice in action plans, and other approaches. Consult OPeN’s resource on Parliaments and Open Government for additional information. Such efforts would without any doubt strengthen democracy at these times of unprecedented challenges.
The content of this press release was drafted collaboratively by OPeN partners.
October 27, 2020
On Tuesday, October 26 and 27, Bússola Tech, a Brazilian organization that promotes the exchange of experiences and initiatives for bringing citizens and their representatives closer with the aid of technology, organized the LegisTech Forum 2020 “Global Conference on Digital Transformation in the Legislative” which brought together experts from the public and private spheres, alongside representatives from parliaments across the world to strengthen a global community for the digital transformation of legislative power. This forum provided over 24 hours of content to discuss the next steps for parliaments who took the opportunity that the pandemic provided to quickly innovate and transition to virtual parliamentary sittings. It focused on strategies to consolidate parliamentary openness and further improve the application of digital tools to strengthen parliament’s legislative and oversight functions.
Ms. Alisha Todd, Director General of ParlAmericas, participated as a panelist in a session entitled Interparliamentary Cooperation for Digital Legislative Transformation. She was joined by panelists Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank and Andy Williamson of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in this session moderated by Luís Kimaid, CEO of Bussola Tech. The session permitted a reflection on the benefits and challenges to date of remote deliberation systems, the next focus areas for digital transformation in parliaments and the role of multilateral institutions in supporting these initiatives. Ms. Todd emphasized that “it is fundamental for openness and transparency to remain core principles of any parliamentary digital transformation strategy, and for the goal of modernization to focus on enabling parliament to better perform its functions to achieve better results for citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic became a catalyst for quick innovation which has the potential to have a lasting positive impact on parliamentary practices, acting as a stepping stone to strengthened access to information, accountability and public participati43on. ParlAmericas continues to support such initiatives by fostering collaboration and peer exchanges across parliaments in the Americas and the Caribbean through its Open Parliament Network, its corresponding Parliamentary Staff Network and global coordination efforts through the Open Parliament e-Network.”
The webinar provided an opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned to guide the further development of digital solutions to effectively support the work of parliaments across the world while addressing challenges they face in their efforts to continue undertaking their critical functions and ensure effective and sustainable responses to support citizens and address this pandemic.
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, go to www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
October 7, 2020
On Thursday, October 1, 2020, the virtual meeting “Transparency is not in Quarantine: Launch of the Legislative Transparency Toolkit”, a joint initiative by the Network for Transparency and Access to Public Information (RTA), the European Union program, EUROsociAL+, and ParlAmericas, took place with the aim of continuing to foster the design and implementation of good practices in transparency within national parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean. After a year of meetings held to produce this publication, five tools were presented in detail, namely: active transparency, requests for access to public information, open data, communication and accessibility, and document management, incorporating a gender perspective and the Sustainable Development Goals in a comprehensive manner. These tools include key concepts and considerations for their implementation, as well as indicators and over 100 pertinent good practices selected from Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean. The meeting involved the participation of more than 80 people representing transparency enforcement bodies, parliaments, international and civil society organizations, specialists and journalists from across the region.
In her welcome remarks, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, noted, “In being transparent and facilitating access to public information, we strive to strengthen public integrity, policy quality and, above all, take a vital step toward empowering the citizenry and bringing policies much closer to the needs of the citizens that demand our attention.” Dr. Gabriel Delpiazzo, Executive Council Chairman of Uruguay's Unit for Access to Public Information (UAIP), the institution that presides over the RTA, highlighted the importance of the Toolkit, noting that its “capacity to influence and bring about change, and the potential unleashed by its implementation (…) under more transparent parliaments, can achieve greater citizen engagement and representation, leading to a more democratic society.” Lastly, Ms. Anna Herrero, representative of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, stated, “We are convinced that the tools compiled in this document will be useful to legislators and officials of the Americas and the Caribbean and the European Union in their aims to press onward with modernization processes and implement the open parliament agenda, even in scenarios as complex as those brought about by the COVID pandemic.”
After these speeches, there was a presentation on the steps to be worked on, the organizations involved and the important aspects of the Legislative Transparency Toolkit by Ms. María José Méndez, consultant for EUROsociAL+, who also moderated the panel that followed this presentation, with the participation of Ms. Blanca Lilia Ibarra, Commissioner of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) of Mexico, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Javier Macaya (Chile), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, and Mr. Marcelo Espinel, Project Director of Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo, a coordinating organization of the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency. Following this session, parliamentary officials of Latin America and Spain presented the good practices included in the publication. Mr. Miguel Ángel Gonzalo, Chief of the Project Coordination and Planning Unit pertaining to the Cabinet of the Secretary-General of the Congress of Deputies of Spain, presented good practices from Spain and the United Kingdom in the areas of active transparency, communication and accessibility. Representing Latin America, Ms. María Liz Sosa, Director General of Legislative Strengthening and External Cooperation of the Senate of Paraguay, and Mr. Manuel Cotado, Director of the Program for Parliamentary Modernization, Innovation, Transparency and Democratic Strengthening of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina, presented the Congreso2030py platform and the Open Data Portal, respectively, exemplifying good practices in the application of Sustainable Development Goals and open data development. This session was moderated by Mr. Juan Carlos Chavarría, Director of the Citizen Participation Department of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, and included commentary and questions by meeting participants.
To conclude the meeting, final thoughts were offered by Mr. Adrián Alcalá, Secretary of Access to Public Information of the INAI, Jeremy Bentley, Coordinator of Public Access to Documents under the Transparency Unit of the European Parliament, and Senator Antares Vázquez (Mexico), ParlAmericas Board Member, who thanked the panelists and participants for contributions shared during this meeting.
To access the Legislative Transparency Toolkit and learn more about the Network for Transparency and Access to Public Information (website and Twitter), EUROsociAL+ (website and Twitter) and ParlAmericas (website and Twitter), visit the linked websites and social media channels.
October 5, 2020
As part of the events held on the International Day for Universal Access to Information, on Monday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 30, 2020 the International Symposium, Transparency and Access to Public Information during the Pandemic: Perspectives and Challenges, was held by the Citizen Participation Department of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, Movimiento de Iniciativa Popular (Popular Initiative Movement), the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, the National University of Costa Rica, Ideario Costarricense del Bicentenario (Bicentennial Costa Rican Values and Principles), Fundación Konrad Adenauer, and ParlAmericas. This symposium aimed to analyze and reflect on the impact of the current pandemic in various areas, considering transparency and access to public information as key pillars. The two-day event included four panels that covered political communication; public policies for economic, social, and cultural welfare; innovation and resilience in public administrations; and best practices for transparency in parliaments.
The event was inaugurated on Monday, September 28, and included the participation of representatives from organizing institutions. Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, and President of the Legislative Assembly Eduardo Cruickshank (Costa Rica) delivered welcoming remarks via video. In her speech, Member of the National Assembly Cabezas highlighted, “In ParlAmericas, we uphold the open parliament principle so that all citizens can have greater access to information—information that is accurate, concrete, and that reflects the reality of each parliament. We are convinced that having access to adequate information is the best tool citizens can have in order to truly understand the role of their institutions and dignitaries.” Two sessions were held following the inauguration: the first focused on political communication in the context of transparency and the right to access to public Information on the pandemic response, while the second session focused on transparency and access to public information in the elaboration of public policies for economic, social, and cultural welfare. Both sessions involved the participation of specialists and representatives of organizations from Costa Rica and other countries in the region, including Members of the National Assembly Laura Guido Pérez and Carolina Hidalgo (Costa Rica).
On Wednesday, September 30, two additional sessions were held: the first addressed the issue of innovation and resilience of public administrations within the context of COVID-19 in relation to transparency and the access to information, with the participation of Member of the Legislative Assembly Wagner Jiménez (Costa Rica), while the second session presented best practices in transparency and access to information within parliaments during the pandemic. The latter was organized by ParlAmericas and included presentations by Member of the Chamber of Deputies Dolores Martínez (Argentina) and Members of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís, ParlAmericas Board Member, and Carmen Chan (Costa Rica). Presentations were also made by Mr. Emmanuel Barrantes of the Costa Rican civil society organization Movimiento de Iniciativa Popular (Popular Initiative Movement), and Mr. Luis Rojas, Deputy Secretary of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, who also moderated the panel. In her speech, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Martínez shared her experience with the modernization program of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina, where important initiatives have been carried out to promote transparency, also highlighting open parliament commitments that include open data and open law portals. In addition, she gave a brief overview of the Legislative Transparency Toolkit, a publication that seeks to continue promoting best practices in transparency within the hemisphere’s legislative bodies. Member of the Legislative Assembly Solís stressed the importance of having a lobby law—one of her legislative proposals—in order to bring transparency to the decision-making process and thereby ensure higher standards of integrity in civil service. On this note, Member of the Legislative Assembly Solís pointed out that having a law of access to public information was a key step and that it was necessary to appoint an oversight body to ensure its efficacy and implementation by regulated bodies. Mr. Rojas commented on the latest developments and initiatives carried out by the Chilean parliament, including the Virtual Congress platform that aims to create a forum for a more fluid exchange with the citizenry through bills that are presented and included in the portal. Lastly, Mr. Barrantes noted that co-creation was a highly relevant aspect in transparency and access to public information processes because it allows for closer collaboration with civil society organizations promoting this agenda.
The International Symposium culminated with closing remarks by Mr. Juan Carlos Chavarría, Director of the Citizen Participation Department of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, who stressed the relevance of access to information and transparency in a democratic system.
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, go to www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
October 1, 2020
ParlAmericas, with the support of the Congress of Colombia and the Parliament of Granada, is organizing the 12th Gathering of the Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, Designing inclusive futures in partnership with youth.The gathering, which is taking place as a series of online events in September and October 2020, brings together parliamentarians from more than 20 countries and young leaders from various youth organizations across the hemisphere.
The Gathering was inaugurated with two keynote interviews, one in English and one in Spanish, that were structured as intergenerational dialogues between former parliamentarians and young leaders. In the keynote interview in Spanish, Solangel Robinson, a young Panamanian leader and member of the National Forum of Women in Political Parties (FONAMUPP in Spanish), spoke with Dr. Cecilia López Montaño, a Colombian economist, former minister and former senator. The keynote interview in English featured Dr. Jean Augustine, former minister and former Canadian-Grenadian parliamentarian, and young leader and activist Ashlee Burnett, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL). The interviews address issues such as women’s political inclusion, gender-based violence, and the care economy.
The Gathering also included two working group sessions, one in English on September 23 and one in Spanish on September 25, entitled "Advancing gender equality solutions with youth partners." The Spanish session featured remarks by the Honorable Germán Blanco, co-host of the meeting and President of the House of Representatives of Colombia; Member of the Chamber of Deputies Maya Fernández Allende of Chile, President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality; and Ms. Lucía Martelotte, programme coordinator at UN Women Argentina.
The session in English included interventions by the Honorable Chester Humphrey, co-host of the meeting and President of the Senate of Grenada; the Honorable Bridgid Annissette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago; and Ms. Tonni Brodber, representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean. The working groups provided an opportunity for parliamentarians and young leaders to hold proactive dialogues around the following topics, approached from a gender equality perspective: girls, STEM, and the future of work; climate change and disasters; women in leadership and decision-making; promoting co-responsibility in care work; gender-based violence; and protecting women’s health.
The Gathering will conclude with a plenary session, to be held on Friday, October 2, which will explore parliamentary and political mechanisms to promote the inclusion of youth in decision-making from a gender equality perspective. During the plenary session, reports from the rapporteurs of the working groups will also be delivered and the Gathering’s final declaration will be read.
President Germán Blanco, as co-host of the meeting, pointed out that “the youth of the Americas and the Caribbean have called on the State and society as a whole with their demands, and the parliaments of the hemisphere, heeding this call, have opened the doors of congress to welcome them and listen to their voices.”
In turn, co-host President Chester Humphrey shared Grenada's achievements in women's political inclusion, but recalled that "it is critical not to lose sight of these goals to ensure that this progress continues to manifest well into the future; the prominence of diverse voices in all decision-making is essential to ensuring that the legislation and policies we enact are responsive to the varied needs of our populations.”
As President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Maya Fernández Allende stressed the importance of legislating while being mindful of the diversity of youth that "must necessarily be considered when proposing public policies for youth. We must insist on the need for desegregated information that accounts for this wide and varied universe of people."
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, noted that "the lessons learned, the experiences shared, and the innovative solutions that we have exchanged during these days will serve not only to guide parliamentary work, but also to insist on the need to strengthen spaces for youth participation in deliberative forums in political parties and parliaments.”
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
September 28, 2020
On Thursday, September 24, 2020, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) held the Open Parliament Regional Forum, 'Legislative Openness: Experiences and Challenges over the Upcoming Decade' in Colombia, with the purpose of presenting progress made and challenges faced in advancing the open parliament agenda by different actors and legislative bodies in the region, while considering the impact of the pandemic on these efforts and the role of civil society organizations in the future of legislative openness.
The first session featured a conversation between parliamentarians representing Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, and included the participation of Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador and President of ParlAmericas, Elizabeth Cabezas. This panel highlighted the importance of continuing to pursue open parliament initiatives and commitments during the pandemic, given the valuable contribution that these efforts make to a stronger and more inclusive democracy and their influence on citizen trust in parliament. On this note, Member of the National Assembly Cabezas stated, “All of these conflicts (lack of citizen trust in politics and public institutions, and social conflict) should prompt us to think about how to rebuild trust among citizens, but above all, how to establish new rules on engaging citizens that would allow for representation that's more genuinely felt, more real, just and equitable.” The panelists ended this session with final thoughts on recently adopted open parliament initiatives and issues to be further explored in the future, such as measures needed to regulate conflicts of interest and accountability, open data policies, the role of social media, and efforts required to counter misinformation, as well as innovation and technology to promote openness.
This talk was followed by a keynote address on the future of legislative openness by Mr. Rafael Rubio, Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and ended with a panel on promoting legislative transparency from civil society organizations, which was moderated by Ms. Natalí Casanova, Senior Program Officer - Open Parliament at ParlAmericas. The panel included the participation of Ms. Noel Alonso, Executive Director of the Directorio Legislativo Foundation of Argentina, and Ms. Daniela Moreno, Researcher for Congreso Visible, a project by Universidad de Los Andes of Colombia. During the discussion, both organizations presented initiatives for contributing to parliamentary openness processes in their respective countries, including the Legislative Transparency Index developed by the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency as a tool for measuring progress made in this agenda within the region.
This regional forum ended with final thoughts by Representative Germán Blanco, President of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia and former ParlAmericas Board Member, who highlighted the sustained political determination of the Colombian parliament's general committees to co-create action plans that have gathered not only civil society organizations but also presidents and officials of chambers who are directing key offices within the Congress of Colombia.
September 23, 2020
Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín (Ecuador), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change participated as a panelist in the 8th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment in the Americas and the Caribbean hosted by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Alliance on Education, Training and Public Awareness on September 23, 2020.
This dialogue brought together government officials, United Nations and inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and academia to advance the discussions on recommendations and views on future work to enhance implementation of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) which denotes work under Article 6 of the UNFCCC and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement (2015) and their six elements: Climate Change Education, Training, Public Awareness, Public Access to Information, Public Participation, and International Cooperation on these issues.
Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín presented on the importance of ACE policy coherence across all branches of government and further integrating parliaments in these efforts: “parliamentarians are in a unique position to influence the national agenda, disseminate information to our constituents, create spaces and channels for public participation in the development of legislation, legislative studies or political oversight, and contribute to national initiatives while always keeping in mind the needs and concerns of citizens in our respective districts. Moreover, through our oversight function, parliamentarians also have an important role in monitoring the implementation of ACE at the national level and, in this way, guaranteeing that these programs and initiatives are effective and leave no one behind.”
This dialogue took place as part of a series of regional dialogues across the world and will inform the negotiation at the 52nd session of UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) which is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the Doha Work Programme on Article 6 of the UNFCCC.
September 15, 2020
On Tuesday, September 15, Bússola Tech, a Brazilian organization that promotes the exchange of experiences and initiatives for bringing citizens and their representatives closer with the aid of technology, organized the webinar “LegisTech for Democracy” which brought together representatives from over 20 parliaments across the world to share their experiences with virtual deliberation systems for parliamentary sittings and committee meetings. Ms. Emilie Lemieux, Deputy Director - Open Parliament and Sustainable Development of ParlAmericas joined parliamentary representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, among others to discuss such experiences within the Americas and the Caribbean.
Presentations demonstrated how the COVID-19 pandemic became a catalyst for quick innovation in parliaments, with many national parliaments transitioning to virtual sessions and meetings using adapted or new technologies. Parliamentary representatives showcased these new systems and the process by which they were established, which in some cases included changes to standing orders or legislation. They discussed the various issues posed by security concerns, voting practices, tradition, knowledge gaps and the digitization of other aspects of administrative processes, in addition to those resulting from the political landscape in their respective countries, and how these are being addressed to establish effective remote deliberation systems.
To introduce the experiences of the Americas and the Caribbean, Ms. Lemieux provided an overview of the challenges and solutions discussed by parliamentary representatives in the hemisphere through ParlAmericas’ virtual meetings and consultations for the development of resources on virtual parliamentary sittings. She stressed the importance of digital transformation, not as a goal in and of itself, but as a means towards modernizing practices and enabling parliament to better perform its functions to achieve better results for citizens: “These initiatives are part of a larger set of efforts towards creating more open parliaments, parliaments that work in collaboration with civil society to continuously improve their practices to be more transparent, facilitate access to information, be accountable to the public, provide opportunities for public participation and uphold the highest ethical standards. It’s important that these objectives remain top of mind as parliaments continue to operate remotely.”
The webinar provided an opportunity to exchange experiences to support the development of virtual parliamentary solutions across the world, to address the similar challenges that many parliaments face in their efforts to continue undertaking their critical functions and ensure effective and sustainable responses to support citizens and address this pandemic.
September 2, 2020
On Wednesday, September 2, parliamentarians, ministers, and other designated national representatives from across the English-speaking Caribbean participated in a virtual roundtable titled Supporting the national adoption of gender-responsive disaster and crisis planning. Hosted by ParlAmericas, UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean, and the Parliament of The Bahamas, the focused dialogue encouraged reflections on national experiences in adopting an intersectional approach to disaster and crisis planning that strengthens resilience and ensures that the differentiated needs of all people are met.
The meeting opened with remarks by the organizing partners, who affirmed the importance of the topic at hand. “It is really critical when we are thinking about disasters and, in particular natural hazards, that we think about which ways hazards impact the lives of women, men, boys, and girls differently… We have to try and figure out why so we can better plan. In this way, we see that gender-responsiveness is critical not only to disaster and crisis planning, but also to sustainable development,” stated Tonni Brodber, Representative a.i., UN Women MCO-Caribbean.
The Honourable Andy Daniel, Speaker of the House of St. Lucia and member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors highlighted the role that decision-makers can play in this mission, adding that “As we continue in our leadership functions, we must critically examine how we have been managing the risks posed by the natural hazards and the biological hazards associated with COVID-19 in an inclusive and gender-sensitive manner.”
This sentiment was echoed by the Honourable Halson Moultrie (The Bahamas), Speaker of the House of Assembly of The Bahamas and host of the meeting, who said “The goals of our parliament, I suggest, must be to establish a non-adversarial gender-responsive environment to build non-competitive sustainable mechanisms for holistic participation and capacity building. Such mechanisms should include educational programs, technical assistance to countries with identified deficiencies, coordination and psychosocial support, healthcare training, and gender-sensitive protocols and procedures.”
Moderator Senator the Honourable Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas) then led the participants through a structured discussion centred on the sharing of key areas of progress and opportunities for further growth in the development and implementation of inclusive disaster and crisis management plans.
The meeting closed with remarks from the Honourable Dr. Mildred Hall-Watson, President of the Senate of The Bahamas. President Hall-Watson provided a summary of promising initiatives exchanged during the meeting that are proactively supporting populations with greater vulnerability across the region and emphasized the importance of further considering how justice delivery and service provision meet women’s and other groups’ changing needs in crisis situations. She stressed that this meeting must be viewed as the start to a dialogue rather than a conclusion.
This virtual roundtable is the second activity in a collaboration between ParlAmericas and UN Women MCO-Caribbean to support parliaments and national governments in institutionalizing a gender perspective in their disaster and crisis planning; the first of which placed emphasis on adopting such an approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons from that session and the important insights gleaned from the roundtable dialogue will inform further strategic activities and resources for legislative and governmental action.
August 28, 2020
On Friday, August 28, Bússola Tech, a Brazilian organization that promotes the exchange of experiences and initiatives for bringing citizens and their representatives closer with the aid of technology, organized the webinar "Regional Inter-parliamentary Cooperation for Digital Transformation" to discuss experiences, challenges and opportunities in developing strategies for expanding the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) that could foster collaboration and synergy between parliaments. Webinar panelists were Ms. Alisha Todd, Director General of ParlAmericas, Mr. Marcio Coimbra, Executive Director of the Interlegis program of the Federal Senate of Brazil, and Mr. Fábio Almeida, Public Policy Manager at Bússola Tech. The panel was moderated by Mr. Luís Kimaid, Executive Director of Bússola Tech.
Presentations stressed the importance of both regional and local cooperation between parliaments in sharing experiences and challenges related to progress made in order to continue their legislative tasks remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, thereby promoting digital transformation. Panelists highlighted the various forums and international efforts made to foster this collaboration, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Open Government Partnership, and ParlAmericas. Ms. Todd shared her thoughts on the webinar, saying, “We are currently living an unprecedented crisis where parliaments’ roles of representation, legislation and oversight are more important than ever, as governments need to respond quickly and effectively to curb this public health crisis and support citizens who are suffering due to its socioeconomic impacts. Parliamentary diplomacy has become a critical tool for legislators to exchange ideas and good practices to inform their work and strengthen their own practices to build an increasingly more open and transparent parliament that responds to the needs of citizens.” Discussions also emphasized the interrelationship between the digital agenda and open parliament efforts adopted in the region, and their potential to increase public participation and build trust in parliament - a key aspect of the democratic system.
The webinar concluded by highlighting the activities that are bringing parliamentarians and parliamentary staff together to implement this agenda and foster innovation, as well as the importance of parliamentary foreign affairs offices or officials working together with these international organizations to harness learning opportunities and create synergy between parliaments.
August 25, 2020
On Friday, August 21, 2020, ParlAmericas and the Chamber of Representatives of Uruguay held an online meeting on the oversight role of parliaments in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff of the legislatures of 17 countries in the Americas were in attendance.
The meeting was inaugurated by Representative Martín Lema (Uruguay), President of the Chamber of Representatives, who highlighted the importance of oversight to strengthening public trust: “Even before COVID-19, Uruguay’s parliament had resolved to strengthen the scope of its oversight functions due to a growing public demand for greater transparency and accountability.”
Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, welcomed the attendees and emphasized oversight as a parliamentary task that cannot be delegated: “As legislators, we need to take action to demand the required accountability from governments and ensure that their policies achieve the expected results, either through our work in committees, by requesting reports, conducting interpellations or public hearings, or establishing special committees, as we did in the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay to undertake a detailed audit of the use of resources.”
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, thanked the participants and underscored the importance of oversight in the context of the severe socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on the region: “Parliamentary oversight, which is essential for the transparent use of public resources, has become especially relevant given the profound economic impacts of the pandemic, which demand acting efficiently to meet citizens’ needs.”
The panel was moderated by Representative Silvana Pérez Bonavita (Uruguay) and included presentations by legislators from parliamentary committees responsible for oversight of measures related to the COVID-19 emergency. The panellists included Member of Congress Alberto de Belaunde (Peru), President of the Special Multi-party Committee Responsible for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; Member of the Chamber of Deputies Jimena López (Argentina) of the Committee on Women and Diversity; Senator Esperanza Andrade (Colombia) of the Legal Committee for Women’s Equity; Senator Confúcio Moura (Brazil), Chair of the Joint Committee for Monitoring the Fiscal Situation and the Budget and Financial Execution of Measures Related to the Coronavirus; Senator Antares Vázquez (Mexico), of the Health Committee and the COVID-19 Working Group of the Senate of the Republic and ParlAmericas Board member; Member of the Legislative Assembly Silvia Vanessa Hernández (Costa Rica), Chair of the Committee on Financial Affairs; and Senator Agustín Amado Florentín (Paraguay), Chair of the Bicameral Congressional Committee for the Oversight of Resources Provided in Emergency Law No. 6524 and ParlAmericas Board Member.
Following the presentations, Representative Pérez Bonavita moderated an interparliamentary dialogue that prompted further exchanges by parliamentarians on the challenges associated with oversight in the midst of a pandemic. The meeting ended with closing remarks by Member of the Chamber of Deputies Javier Macaya (Chile), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, who thanked the participants for their contributions to the discussion.
August 21, 2020
On Monday, August 17, ParlAmericas and the National Assembly of Ecuador held a meeting with the legislatures of Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru to discuss the work and experiences of these parliaments in the adoption of measures encouraging sustainable fishing and the protection of endangered marine species, in accordance with existing international standards, including regulatory and control measures for the protection of oceans.
The President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, César Litardo, opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of working together for the conservation of marine biodiversity: “The only way to find a direct solution to these processes is for us to do so in a joint and coordinated manner…You can count on the full support of the legislature of Ecuador, of its president’s office, to work hand in hand with the region so that we can join together to achieve the objective of protecting our seas and ecosystems and seek joint sustainable solutions for the development of the region and the world.”
Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador Elizabeth Cabezas, President of ParlAmericas, highlighted the importance of parliamentary diplomacy addressing environmental issues and supporting the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and underscored that: “At ParlAmericas, a parliamentary institution composed of the legislatures of the Americas and the Caribbean, we advocate for cooperative political dialogue and the strengthening of our democratic system…Our environment and climate change have no borders, so environmental and human health depends on us working together to explore ways to achieve a social, economic and environmental balance that takes the future generations into account.”
The meeting included a presentation by Dr. Alejandro Flores Nava, Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Latin America and the Caribbean, who commented on the state of fisheries in the Southeast Pacific Basin and the challenges and socioeconomic benefits of implementing measures aimed at protecting and maintaining sustainable levels of fish populations. Lawyer María Amparo Albán, Senior Partner at the Inter-American Institute on Justice and Sustainability (IIJS), provided a legal perspective on the issue, in line with the precautionary principle, and shared information on the legal frameworks and multilateral environmental agreements relevant to marine conservation in the South Pacific.
The presentations were followed by an inter-parliamentary dialogue, with the participation of the representatives of the invited parliaments. They presented the actions taken and challenges faced by parliaments in relation to the conservation of marine biodiversity and the regulation of fisheries, for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” The meeting ended with closing remarks by Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador Elizabeth Cabezas, President of ParlAmericas.
July 24, 2020
On Friday, July 17, with the support of ParlAmericas, the Congress of the Republic of Peru held the Virtual Forum “Parliaments in the Americas: Post-COVID-19 Experiences and Challenges,” with the aim of sharing and exchanging key aspects of priority issues and the functioning of parliament in light of the experiences and challenges faced since the start of the pandemic, as well as discussing future challenges. Speakers included Member of the Chamber of Deputies Javier Macaya (Chile), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network; Senator Rosa Gálvez (Canada), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change; and Member of Congress Leonardo Inga (Peru), President of the Multi-Party Special Committee on COVID-19.
The Head of the Office for International Cooperation of the Congress of the Republic of Peru, Javier Salinas, welcomed participants to the forum. A speech was also delivered by the Peruvian Member of Congress and Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors Rolando Ruíz, who noted, “in view of the complex situation we presently face, it is vital that we learn about the experiences of other countries in order to enrich ourselves from this exchange, knowing that the measures we adopt should make a fundamental contribution to economic and social recovery while safeguarding and ensuring a healthy democracy with equal opportunities for all.”
The presentation by Member of the Chamber of Deputies Macaya stressed that efforts made towards legislative openness have been key to ensuring the continuity of the National Congress of Chile, highlighting that “we've prepared ourselves for the future in terms of transparency and the role that the citizenry should have in its own empowerment (...) Today, people are watching our work closely. That’s why open parliament concepts like the transparency and integrity of parliamentary work will always guide us.” Senator Gálvez focused her presentation on the importance of political oversight in a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, underlining that “80% of Canadians surveyed stated they wanted a green recovery; one that was cleaner, smarter, and more sustainable. Therefore, that recovery should address three points: commitments on climate and the environment, a fair transition for workers, and a sustainable and inclusive economy.” Lastly, Member of Congress Inga described the scope of the actions taken by the Peruvian parliament in response to the crisis, highlighting that “the pandemic has affected different sectors of the economy, which is why we set up five task forces within our committee. One of them oversees contracting and the procurement of goods and services during this emergency, and another focuses on monitoring measures adopted by the executive branch in the health sector.”
The Virtual Forum ended with a speech by Member of Congress Guillermo Aliaga, 2nd Vice-President of the Congress of the Republic of Peru, who thanked the panellists for their participation, as well as their commitment to tackling the current crisis.
July 22, 2020
Today, ParlAmericas held a virtual meeting in collaboration with the UN Women Multi-Country Office - Caribbean and the Parliament of Saint Lucia on the subject of building resilience during the COVID-19 crisis from gender equality and sustainable development perspectives. The meeting brought together more than 85 parliamentarians, government and parliamentary officials, and civil society organisations from ParlAmericas’ anglophone membership.
The meeting’s agenda included presentations on good practices as well as emerging data and new literature that can support legislators and policymakers in their decision-making during COVID-19.
The presenters were Ms. Elizabeth Riley from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); Angie Dazé from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); Massimiliano Tozzi from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) EnGenDER project; and Mr. Jack Hardcastle from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), who shared a toolkit tailored for parliamentarians from small states to inform their work on Climate Change. In addition, representatives from ParlAmericas and the UN Women MCO presented new publications about responding to the COVID-19 crisis, including an analysis of legislative responses from a gender equality perspective and gender-transformative hurricane resilience.
Following the presentations, the meeting participants engaged in dialogue and exchanged information about actions being taken in their countries to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 and build back better. This included discussion of proactive measures aimed at addressing the double threat of hurricane season in the Caribbean in the context of the pandemic.
In her introductory remarks, Ms. Tonni Ann Brodber, Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office - Caribbean highlighted the importance of multi-sector partnerships for work on these themes in the region. She observed, “For UN Women, like our sister agencies and our partners in this initiative we have had to adapt our humanitarian response to manage the impact of COVID-19 taking into account the different but equally important needs of women and men, girls and boys. The good news is adaptation for us was determining the new way of working, which has made us more resilient. The content of our work has not changed that much because what we do is at the core of sustainable development and achieving the SDGs. Planning, preparing, and mitigating against disasters taking into account the lived realities of men, women, boys, and girls is gender-transformative programming.”
Speaker of the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia the Honourable Andy Daniel then gave opening remarks in his role as host and Caribbean Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Network on Climate Change. He stressed, “As Caribbean islands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and disasters resulting from natural hazards, our countries undertake thorough planning every hurricane season to ensure we have all of the necessary precautions in place to protect our people. The added challenge of COVID-19 means thoughtful preparation is even more essential. We must be sure that we are considerate of the diverse needs of our population so that everyone remains safe and well.”
Through a video, President of ParlAmericas Elizabeth Cabezas, Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador, greeted the meeting’s delegates. Ms. Cabezas affirmed that “ParlAmericas believes deeply in the importance of examining all issues from the perspectives of gender equality and sustainability. This meeting provides space for a critical, collaborative dialogue among various actors in the region on how to take action in the face of disasters of many kinds in a way that is informed by the needs of women and vulnerable groups, and is inclusive in its design and implementation.”
For further information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
July 16, 2020
ParlAmericas shares insight by parliamentarians from Chile and Colombia in a session held by the Constitutional Amendment Committee of Ecuador to discuss the bicameral proposal for parliament
On Monday, July 13, ParlAmericas contributed regional perspectives to the debates being held by the Constitutional Amendment Committee of the National Assembly of Ecuador, presided by Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas, President of ParlAmericas, on the subject of a bill for the Partial Reform of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, which proposes a bicameral parliamentary system. International viewpoints on the matter were provided by Senator Rodrigo Lara of Colombia and Miguel Landeros, Secretary General of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile.
During the session, Senator Lara and Mr. Landeros discussed the structure and powers of the upper and lower houses of their respective legislatures, while highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of the bicameral system. Senator Lara noted, "Despite the fact that both houses have very similar powers, the bicameral system in Colombia has been decisive in strengthening the Legislative Branch and tempering Executive power." Mr. Landeros suggested, "Before deciding on how parliament should be structured, it's important to analyze the regime in place so as to define the powers that congress should have in order to ensure effective governance."
Committee members then posed questions to the panellists in order to clarify certain details related to the procedures and functioning of each house's administrative system. Lastly, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas thanked the panellists for their presentations and participation in this important dialogue, and she highlighted that they "made a substantial contribution to this debate which seeks to strengthen the legislature, thereby improving the functioning and performance of the Ecuadorian parliament."
For further information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
July 10, 2020
Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff of the Americas participate in a virtual meeting to discuss strategies to build back better and integrate key climate change and environmental considerations into economic recovery plans.
On Friday, July 10th, ParlAmericas held a virtual meeting hosted by the Chamber of Deputies of Chile on the importance of building back better for a green and sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19. Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from 14 countries in the Americas attended the virtual gathering.
Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Diego Paulsen (Chile) opened the meeting by welcoming the panelists and attendees and remarking on the opportunities that could be generated from a green recovery in the region: “It is essential that governments seriously commit to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda, which constitutes a roadmap for the next decade that ensures economic development with social well-being and environmental equilibrium. This transformation, far from halting economic growth, represents an opportunity for real development with equity and the generation of new green jobs in Latin America.”
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas also gave welcoming remarks, highlighting the role of legislators in responses to COVID-19: “As parliamentarians we have a very important role in the transition occurring in our countries, which ranges from responding to the immediate impacts of this pandemic to addressing the recovery and reconstruction of our societies. We have the opportunity to make changes that allow for a redefinition of our systems and their objectives, as well as invest in green sectors and reorient our economies to work for the environment.”
The expert panel was moderated by Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín (Ecuador), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change, who emphasized that climate action should not be sidelined in recovery processes: “This year, each country is responsible for updating their respective Nationally Determined Contributions which outline the actions that will be carried out to curb climate change in line with the Paris Agreement. Parliament plays an important role in this process to guarantee that the measures adopted within these plans are increasingly ambitious, robust, and pragmatic, giving special consideration to the most vulnerable populations.”
In their interventions, the panelists covered a range of topics connected to the broader theme of building back better. Director of the United Nations Environment Programme – Latin America and the Caribbean Office, Leo Heileman, provided an overview of the impact of the pandemic on climate change and how the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda could serve as frameworks for achieving a sustainable recovery; Raul Salazar, Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, outlined lessons to be learned from COVID-19 to improve disaster risk management and community resilience; and doctoral candidates Brian O’Callaghan and Alex Clark from the University of Oxford shared climate policy recommendations that are aligned with economic recovery goals.
Following the presentations, Member of the National Assembly Ana Belén Marín moderated a discussion period, allowing participants to ask the panel questions and share experiences from their respective countries. The meeting concluded with closing remarks from Member of the Legislative Assembly Paola Vega (Costa Rica), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change – Central America, who thanked panelists and participants for a fruitful and timely dialogue.
For further information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
July 10, 2020
Today ParlAmericas held a technical webinar on action protocols in cases of sexual harassment within the parliaments of Latin America. This virtual meeting brought together gender specialists from the parliaments of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.
The meeting hosted a panel of expert speakers in the area of gender equality in the parliaments of their respective countries: from Argentina, Jimena Boland y Castilla and Catalina Cirio from the Gender and Equity Observatory of the Chamber of Deputies; from Chile, Constanza Toro Justiniano, Coordinator of Gender Policies of the Chamber of Deputies; from Costa Rica, Haydeé Hernández, Head of the Technical Unit for Gender Equality of the Legislative Assembly; and finally from Mexico, Sulma Eunice Campos,Head of the Technical Unit for Equality of the Senate of the Republic.
Subsequently, a question-and-answer session and dialogue were held where parliamentary officials were able to consult the panelists and comment on experiences in their institutions with the design and implementation of protocols to prevent sexual and workplace harassment.
The ParlAmericas International Secretariat is committed to continuing to provide spaces for dialogue to facilitate the exchange of best practices among parliamentary staff to promote gender equality and women's rights in the legislatures of the region.
For more information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow@ParlAmericas on social media.
July 9, 2020
On Wednesday, ParlAmericas, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the International Relations Unit of the National Assembly of Panama co-organized the virtual meeting “Laying the foundations for the Caucus of Women Parliamentarians and Alternate Parliamentarians of Panama” to advance the development of this group in Panama. National-level women parliamentarians, alternate (suplente) parliamentarians, and an eminent panel featuring representatives from Costa Rica, Ecuador, and El Salvador, attended the meeting.
During the meeting, a representative from each party caucus of Panama's National Assembly delivered opening remarks highlighting the importance of promoting multi-party work to address barriers to women's equality and political participation. This included statements by Member of the Chamber of Deputies Zulay Rodríguez, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party; Corina Cano, from the Molirena Party; Yesenia Rodríguez from the Panameñista Party; Ana Giselle Rosas from the Democratic Change Party; and alternate Member of the Chamber of Deputies Walkiria Chandler, from the independent caucus.
The meeting also featured a distinguished panel of representatives from women’s parliamentary groups in the region, moderated by Ms. Vonetta Sterling, vice-president of Panama's National Forum of Women in Political Parties (FONAMUPP, in Spanish). Former Member of the Legislative Assembly Maureen Clarke Clarke (Costa Rica), founder of the Parliamentary Group of Women Members of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, discussed the process of institutionalizing a group that transcends legislatures. Ms. Carolina Villeda de Rivera, head of the Gender Unit of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, shared a presentation on the Women's Parliamentary Caucus of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador and its process to develop work plans. Member of the National Assembly Mónica Alemán (Ecuador), chair of the Parliamentary Group for the Guarantee of Women's Rights, shared strategies for building partnerships with civil society organisations.
The meeting concluded with a dialogue on further steps for establishing the Caucus of Women Parliamentarians and Alternate Parliamentarians of the National Assembly of Panama.
For more information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
July 6, 2020
Senators and staff of the Senate of the Republic of Mexico participated in a webinar organized by the Open Parliament e-Network (OPeN) and the Mexican Senate on the importance of continuing to strengthen and advance the aims of the open parliament agenda, while considering the challenges posed by the current crisis.
On Monday, July 6, a webinar was held for staff and advisors of the Senate of the Republic of Mexico, with the aim of sharing Chile and Paraguay’s experiences with open parliament action plans and discussing the progress made and challenges faced in further strengthening efforts toward parliamentary openness in Mexico. This webinar was organized by the Mexican Senate and OPeN, a consortium of international organizations that promote open parliament initiatives and actions around the world, represented on this occasion by ParlAmericas, the National Democratic Institute, and Directorio Legislativo.
Senator Mónica Fernández Balboa (Mexico), President of the Senate of the Republic, and Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network and member of the OPeN Parliamentary Leadership Committee, inaugurated the event. Senator Mónica Fernández welcomed the participants, highlighting that “an open parliament fosters democratic values, which is why parliaments need to encourage communication channels and forums that ensure and promote transparency, accountability, citizen engagement, and ethics.” Likewise, Senator Blanca Ovelar stressed the importance of continuing to promote the open parliament agenda, highlighting collaboration with civil society and the work of parliamentary staff as key drivers toward this end: “Parliamentary staff play a key role in the sustainability and effective implementation of open parliament action plans, commitments, and initiatives, which is why ParlAmericas created the Parliamentary Staff Network on Open Parliament.”
The webinar proceeded with a discussion on open parliament actions in Chile and Paraguay, with presentations by Luis Rojas, Deputy Secretary of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, and María Liz Sosa, Director General for Legislative Strengthening and External Cooperation of the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay. The floor was then given to the representatives of various Mexican institutions and organizations, who shared their views on ongoing endeavours, as well as opportunities for further collaboration on the open parliament agenda. This segment was moderated by Verónica Camino (Mexico), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, and included the participation of Jaime Mena Álvarez, Director General of Parliamentary Support for the Senate, who offered an overview of recent developments around parliamentary openness in the Mexican Senate; Professor Khemvirg Puente of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who addressed the progress and challenges in working toward openness in the country; Claudia Ramírez, Co-Coordinator of the Unit for the Transformation of Congresses of Transparencia Mexicana, who spoke about the open parliament experiences of Mexican civil society organizations; and Blanca Lilia Ibarra, Commissioner of the National Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection of Mexico (INAI), who presented the Open Government Action Plan in Mexico and emphasized the value of collaboration between the three branches of government.
After a question and answer period that allowed for an exchange between panellists and participants, Senator Antares Vázquez (Mexico), member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, gave the closing remarks, encouraging further progress in reforms related to the open parliament agenda in Mexico.
July 6, 2020
Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís (Costa Rica), a member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, participated in an online dialogue on Friday, July 3 about open parliament, along with representatives of civil society organizations and of the National Assembly of Panama.
The aim of this meeting was to share experiences and best practices in favour of legislative openness, with regard especially to measures adopted and efforts made by parliaments to ensure transparency and access to public information, as well as mechanisms employed to sustain continuous and effective communication with citizens. The discussion highlighted the use of technological tools for facilitating ongoing communication and information, while also contemplating the challenges that the current pandemic has created.
Member of the Legislative Assembly Solís described the process followed by Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly in adopting the Institutional Policy on Open Parliament, which was ultimately approved in April 2019. In addition, she spoke about tools developed by the parliament such as the protocol on access to public information that aims to regulate the principle of transparency in the civil service and the right to access information at the various levels of the Legislative Assembly. Member of the Legislative Assembly Solís reminded everyone that “these processes don't materialize from one day to the next, but take time and a long-term effort; however, focusing on these issues also means defending a healthy, inclusive and participatory democracy in which the role of parliament is crucial, especially in situations as complex as those we're experiencing due to COVID-19.”
June 12, 2020
Today, Senator Antares Vázquez Alatorre (Mexico), member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, participated in the “Virtual Gathering on the Importance of Addressing Political Violence in the Region.” Organized by the Argentina chapter of the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN), part of the International Republican Institute (IRI), the session convened women parliamentarians and government officialsfrom Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Mexico, to discuss strategies to prevent, sanction, and eradicate political violence in the region.
Senator Vázquez offered the concluding remarks and highlighted the work that the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality (PNGE) carries out in the area of preventing political violence against women. Senator Vázquez reflected on the importance of incorporating an intersectional lens in the proposal of solutions and transforming the culture and traditional power relations that fuel political violence against women.
Senator Vázquez also raised examples of good practices implemented by parliamentary institutions, such as the Mexican Senate’s Special Protocol to Prevent and Address Gender-based Sexual Harassment, which contributes to preventing political violence against women inside the parliament.
June 11, 2020
On Thursday, June 11, 47 parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from 13 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean gathered virtually to engage with experts and discuss legislative and public policy responses that promote sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19, while considering the gendered impacts of the pandemic and promoting the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
The meeting was opened with remarks from Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, sharing “Although this pandemic constitutes a tragedy, we can choose to remember it as that, or we can see it as a great opportunity that allows us to think about the future. We can legislate to improve these structures that currently make us so vulnerable and above all, we can think about entering the future with a country with better foundations and a better society, because the world will not be the same after this COVID-19 pandemic.” The Honourable Alincia Williams-Grant, President of the Senate (Antigua and Barbuda), moderated the dynamic session and emphasized, “This pandemic has exacerbated the existing social vulnerabilities and inequalities and for that reason is disproportionately affecting women. For recovery efforts to be effective, women must be at the forefront of decision-making and climate considerations such as resilience against disasters must be integrated into recovery efforts to ensure a secure future for vulnerable communities.”
The meeting featured presentations from Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Diane Quarles, Chief of Economic Commission for the Latin American and Caribbean (ECLAC) Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean; Monika Queisser, Head of Social Policy Division of the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and Therese Turner-Jones, General Manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). The presentations highlighted the current and projected economic impacts of COVID-19 in the region with a special focus on the differential impacts on women. Moreover, the panellists noted recovery strategies that could be implemented by governments to ensure responses are inclusive, gender-sensitive, and environmentally sustainable.
The dialogue was enriched through a series of interventions by parliamentarians, allowing for a sharing of good practices and further deliberation on the presentations. The webinar concluded with remarks from Senator Saphire Longmore (Jamaica), ParlAmericas Board Member.
June 9, 2020
ParlAmericas participates in a virtual dialogue between the presiding officers of parliaments of Latin America organized by the National Assembly of Ecuador, the presidency of the GRULAC of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the OAS
On Monday, June 8, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, participated in a virtual dialogue among the presiding officers of parliaments of Latin America entitled Legislation, Representation and Political Oversight in the New Normal, organized by the National Assembly of Ecuador, the presidency of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The aim of this forum was to address three central pillars threatened by the current COVID-19 crisis: democracy, development and political communication. With this premise in mind, participants sought to share the progress being made by parliaments of the region in response to the challenges and demands posed by this pandemic, while emphasizing their role in legislation, representation, and political oversight. This meeting also included discussion on the role of parliaments in post-COVID-19 cooperation and development and on political communication during the crisis period.
In her presentation, Member of the National Assembly Cabezas pointed out, "National parliaments have a key role in economic recovery, not just by legislating in favour of our people, but also by ensuring that measures adopted are thorough and transparent, thereby opposing any form of corruption." She also provided an overview of the recent meeting held by the presiding officers of parliaments of the Americas and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), organized by ParlAmericas, which highlighted the importance of fostering cooperation between countries in working towards greater productive, commercial, and technological integration throughout the region, as well as ensuring a more inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.
This dialogue also included presentations by officers of parliament of the participating Latin American countries, allowing for an exchange of best practices and perspectives on the current situation in the region.
June 5, 2020
Presiding officers of parliaments of the Americas participated in a virtual meeting with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on economic recovery and joint parliamentary actions that can be taken in the face of the current crisis.
On Friday, June 5, 2020, ParlAmericas held a virtual meeting on economic recovery from COVID-19, which included the participation of the presiding officers of 15 legislative branches of the Americas, and a keynote address by Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC. Parliamentarians, parliamentary officials and ambassadors from the region were also in attendance.
The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, and continued with the keynote speaker. In her address, Ms. Bárcena highlighted the importance of promoting an equitable economic recovery in the region: “Following this crisis, institutional channels will be required to listen to and process the multiple demands that will come as a result of the serious economic and social effects of COVID-19, and parliaments will be crucial at that crossroads. A welfare State is needed, based on a new social compact (fiscal, social and productive) that includes universal access to health care, that is, to the basic infrastructure of life.”
After the keynote address, a high-level inter-parliamentary dialogue was moderated by Senator Rosa Gálvez (Canada), vice-president of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change. This dialogue allowed for an exchange in which the presiding officers of the various parliaments shared the legislative actions that their countries have taken to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.
During the virtual meeting, details were also shared regarding the Compendium of Legislative and Executive Actions from the Americas and the Caribbean in Response to COVID-19, a resource developed by ParlAmericas and the National Assembly of Ecuador that systematizes the initial measures carried out to counter the impacts of the pandemic in the hemisphere. The compendium includes the legislation and executive orders that have been adopted regarding health care systems, social protection, employment, and other topics. It also highlights considerations related to openness, gender equality and sustainability in these responses, offering several starting points for dialogue on possible future actions.
Lastly, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas provided the final reflections in thanking Ms. Bárcena and ECLAC and the participating presiding officers for a productive dialogue: “Disorientation and mistrust are symptoms that aggravate the economic scenario in a region that urgently needs to create conditions to strengthen its economy in a creative, innovative manner, capable of replacing old formulas with new paradigms that are more equitable, fairer, and that prioritize human development over crude figures of financial growth. For this reason, today more than ever, our parliaments have a pressing need to provide answers to our peoples. Beyond the political differences, our legislatures are urgently focused on proposing and approving sound regulations based on real data and, above all, ones that present practical and tangible solutions for citizens.”
For more information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
May 27, 2020
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), president of ParlAmericas; and Member of the Chamber of Deputies Paulina Núñez (Chile) participated in the “Andean Forum of Women Parliamentarians Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemia,” organized by the Leadership Center for Women of the Americas, NDI Colombia, the Observatory of Women’s Political Participation of Ecuador, PRO Mujer, and the Violeta Correa Institute. The forum, which included participants from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, served as a space for sharing good legislative practices that respond to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased levels of violence against women.
In her intervention, Member of the National Assembly Cabezas highlighted actions in the areas of health and employment, underscoring gender considerations that should be part of all responses to the crisis. Among her recommendations was the enactment of protections for frontline health personnel, which has indirect gender implications, as women represent half of the doctors and 80% of the nurses in Latin America and the Caribbean. Ms. Cabezas also spoke about the importance of providing support to informal workers and those in the care economy, sectors which have been greatly affected by the crisis and comprise a majority of women.
Member of the Chamber of Deputies Paulina Núñez underscored actions taken by the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, which include economic aid and public health campaigns for vulnerable populations, economic support for victims of domestic violence, and the extension of post-natal leave during the health emergency that has resulted from the virus.
The meeting was of great importance for the exchange of good practices that help to guarantee the sustainability and inclusivity of economic recovery in the face of COVID-19. It illustrated the significance of inter-parliamentary cooperation and gender equality mainstreaming in legislative work.
May 27, 2020
Today, the International Republican Institute (IRI) - Panama, through its Women Democracy Network, and in partnership with ParlAmericas and the National Assembly of Panama, held a webinar on gender-responsive policymaking. This virtual meeting brought together Panamanian parliamentarians, alternate parliamentarians, and mayors for dialogue and practical training on applying a gender lens to their work.
Welcoming remarks were offered by Mr. Humberto Collado, program manager for IRI-Panama; Her Excellency Lilly Nicholls, Canadian Ambassador to Panama; and Member of the Chamber of Deputies Fernando Arce (Panama), member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors.
As part of the webinar, ParlAmericas organized a panel with interventions from local and international speakers who highlighted examples of how gender-equal decision-making has benefited their countries. The panel was moderated by Member of the National Assembly Ana Giselle Rosas (Panama) and featured remarks by Senator Rosa Gálvez (Canadá) and Ms. Betzaida Guerrero Moreno, a representative of Panama’s National Forum of Women in Political Parties (FONAMUPP, in Spanish). Each of the panellists highlighted strategies for working across political party lines to advance shared goals for women’s equality and human rights.
Following the panel, IRI facilitators and invited experts led an online training session with the aim of providing guidance on implementing the types of good practices presented in the panel. The session drew from the Women Democracy Network’s “Gender-responsive Policymaking Handbook.” The webinar concluded with remarks by Member of the Chamber of Deputies Corina Cano (Panamá), who emphasized the importance of building alliances and solidarity networks to institutionalize the good practices discussed.
May 22, 2020
This week, ParlAmericas supported the participation of parliamentarians on panels held during two important regional meetings conducted by partner organizations. Both meetings explored the gendered impacts of COVID-19 and the necessity of women’s leadership within responses to the pandemic.
The first of these virtual meetings, “Respond, Restructure, Recover: Women and the COVID-19 Response in the Caribbean,” took place on May 19, 2020. Organized by Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL), the session convened stakeholders from across the Caribbean for a conversation on the specific experiences of women in the region during COVID-19. The Hon. Samantha Marshall (Antigua and Barbuda), M.P. and Minister of Agriculture, offered a parliamentary perspective on the issue, discussing ways in which legislators can contribute to the development of inclusive national responses.
On May 21, 2020, the webinar hosted by the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership and Women’s Global Health, titled “COVID-19: Why Can Women’s Leadership Make the Difference in the Response? Challenges and Opportunities in the Americas and Caribbean Beyond the Emergency,” brought together women leaders and experts in gender and health from Latin America and the Caribbean. This was a further session supported by ParlAmericas as a founding member of the Task Force. The Hon. Delma Thomas (Grenada), M.P. and Minister of Social Development, Housing, and Community Empowerment, shared her views on women’s political leadership in confronting the COVID-19 crisis, as well as strategies to ensure women are central to future crisis response and recovery efforts.
These meetings created critical spaces for dialogue among government, parliamentary, multilateral, and civil society actors on strategies to ensure that the region’s response to COVID-19 considers the crisis’ differential impacts. They furthermore affirmed the importance of women and other diverse groups being actively involved in the management and implementation of response and recovery actions.
May 15, 2020
On Friday, May 8, the webinar “Parliaments and Pandemics: Going virtual and staying open in the COVID-19 era” was held within the framework of the Open Response + Open Recovery Digital Forum of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The event was organized by OPeN (Open Parliament e-Network) composed of Directorio Legislativo, National Democratic Institute, ParlAmericas, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency.
The session was moderated by María Baron, Global Director of Directorio Legislativo and included panelists from across the world: Marc Serré, Member of the Canadian Parliament and ParlAmericas Board Member; Marta González Vázquez, Member of Spanish Congress of Deputies; Leonardo Barbosa, Secretary General of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and Sammy Obeng, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica). The discussion allowed for an in-depth analysis on how parliaments around the world are adapting their practices to continue their work while respecting the current social distancing guidelines. It also considered the tools and strategies used in different countries to not only keep parliaments in operation during the crisis, but also ensure that their work continues to take place in an open and transparent manner. Panelists highlighted how openness, transparency and innovation can help institutions become more resilient and better prepared to face new challenges, such as those brought forward by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is critical as it enables legislatures to carry on with their functions at a time where their roles of representation, legislation and oversight are crucial to the balance of powers and to ensure accountability and the effective protection of the vulnerable sectors of society, all while providing an agile and timely response to the difficult situation that society is facing.
This dialogue was the first of the "The 2020 Conversation on Open Parliament", a series of seminars that will cover a variety of topics in the coming months to explore how parliaments are responding to the challenges before them. Watch the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlrvWBt1wxQ
May 12, 2020
On Wednesday, April 29 of this year, ParlAmericas and the International Republican Institute (IRI) with the valuable support of the National Assembly of Panama, held an online seminar on open parliament and action plans for legislative openness, with the aim of continuing to encourage actions in favour of this agenda in Panama.
Welcoming remarks were given by Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, Member of the National Assembly Fernando Arce (Panama), ParlAmericas Board Member, and Beatriz de Anta, IRI's Resident Program Director in Panama. Senator Ovelar noted that "At ParlAmericas, we value the great efforts that have been made by the region’s parliaments to continue meeting virtually and we encourage all legislative work to continue meeting standards of transparency, accountability, citizen participation and ethics, pillars of an open parliament." Member of the National Assembly Arce made reference to the complicated times that countries are currently facing and emphasized that "it is important to remember that all of us, legislators, officials and citizens, must act together to counter this crisis and take care not only of our health, but also the health of our democracy.”
During this activity, Patricio Vallespín, a former Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, spoke of the importance of legislative openness for current political action where committing to open parliaments provides an opportunity to continue building credibility, trust and civic legitimacy. Natalí Casanova, Senior Program Officer of the Open Parliament program at ParlAmericas, later stressed that advancing this agenda has also meant adopting measures to modernize parliament, which, in turn, has facilitated the transition to the virtual sittings currently being held by national legislatures in order to continue their work in the face of the global crisis. Following these presentations, the experiences of Chile and Paraguay were presented by Rocío Noriega, Advisor to the Bicameral Group on Transparency of the National Congress of Chile, and María Liz Sosa, Director General of Legislative Strengthening and External Cooperation of the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay, who emphasized the importance of involving civil society organizations in processes for co-creation and implementation of commitments for legislative openness, as well as the importance of addressing other related issues such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
The event concluded with remarks by Her Excellency Lilly Nicholls, Canadian Ambassador to Panama, and Beatriz de Anta, Resident Director of the IRI in Panama.
May 8, 2020
On Friday, May 8, 2020, ParlAmericas held its first virtual meeting organized by the Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality (PNGE), which explored legislative actions to prevent violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This meeting was attended by parliamentarians and parliamentary officials from 14 countries in Latin America. Panellists Yeliz Osman, Policy Specialist on Ending Violence Against Women at the UN Women Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean; Member of the National Assembly Karina Arteaga (Ecuador), PNGE Vice-President for South America; Member of the Chamber of Deputies Marcela Sabat (Chile), PNGE Alternate Vice-President for South America; and Senator Verónica Camino (Mexico), PNGE Vice-President for North America, shared valuable experiences and preventive measures that can be adopted by parliaments to respond to the growing incidence of violence against women, especially domestic violence, during this pandemic. The session featured concluding remarks from Member of the Legislative Assembly Cristina Cornejo (El Salvador), PNGE Vice-President for Central America.
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, stated that “it is evident that public health and economic impacts have been the focus of our efforts in this first stage, but we cannot leave aside other silent and shameful epidemics that persist during the COVID-19 pandemic, like the epidemics of violence against women, and also against children and youth.” In addition, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Maya Fernández Allende (Chile), President of the PNGE, issued a call to “put women’s safety and integrity, through legislative actions to prevent gender-based violence, at the centre of parliamentary responses to COVID-19.”
For more information on ParlAmericas’ work, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
May 1, 2020
On Friday, May 1, 2020, ParlAmericas and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) held an online meeting on virtual parliamentary sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic for presiding officers, parliamentarians, and clerks of English-speaking parliaments in the Americas and the Caribbean.
Parliamentary officials from 17 parliaments in the region attended the meeting virtually. The expert panelists—the Honourable Juan Watterson, Speaker of the House of Keys of Tynwald, Parliament of the Isle of Man; Luiz Fernando Bandeira de Mello, Secretary General of the Board of the Senate of Brazil; and Matthew Hamlyn, Strategic Director of the Chamber Business Team of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom—shared valuable insights into the experiences, as well as technical and political challenges, of implementing virtual sittings and committee meetings in their respective legislatures.
The panelists’ presentations were followed by a discussion period facilitated by the meeting Chair, Senator Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for the Caribbean, who emphasized that “parliamentary representation is an essential service and it must go on—especially when our people are dealing with a health and economic crisis.”
The Honourable Brigid Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, ParlAmericas Board Member and CPA International Executive Committee Member, delivered closing remarks, thanking the panelists and participants for a “great dialogue on the current issues facing our legislatures. The spaces for collaboration provided by ParlAmericas and the CPA are particularly valuable in these difficult times to support democracy and good governance throughout this hemisphere and beyond.”
For further information on the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media. For more information on the CPA, visit www.cpahq.org and follow @CPA_Secretariat on Twitter.
The CPA has also launched a toolkit for parliaments on delivering parliamentary democracy during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic—visit www.cpahq.org/cpahq/coronavirus to download a copy.
April 23, 2020
As a member of the Inter-American Task Force on Women's Leadership, ParlAmericas is pleased to support this call for gender parity in Covid-19 responses in the region. The Task Force's statement follows:
The undersigned institutions, members of the Inter-American Task Force on Women's Leadership, express their concern regarding the low integration of the gender perspective and women's leadership in response to the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and call on States and decision-makers to consider the equal incorporation of women at all levels of decision-making in response to this crisis. Only with this equal participation can we ensure the central consideration of the differentiated impacts of the pandemic on the life and well-being of women and men.
The underrepresentation participation of women in leadership positions in public sphere influences the way in which the specific needs of women are addressed. Decisions that minimize or do not consider gender-differentiated impacts not only affect the quality of life and health of women, but also affect that of their dependent persons, whether they are children, older persons or people with disabilities or illness.
There is global recognition of the importance of incorporating gender equality in responses to emergencies and disasters. Evidence from multiple areas suggests that parity in decision-making has resulted in greater plurality in approaching problems and better proposed solutions. The participation of women, their leadership and the breadth of their perspectives show that there are no gender neutral policies and that the perspective and specific needs and interests of half the population must have their own voice, which is even more fundamental in managing this crisis.
It is essential that women's voices are present and heard at decision-making tables to effectively respond to the global pandemic caused by the COVID-19. This crisis can also be a moment of transformation and an opportunity to challenge traditional political, economic and social dynamics, recognizing the experience of women in protecting the health of families and communities, and adding their perspectives and its contributions at an unprecedented juncture that calls for inclusive and equal leadership at all levels.
We call on governments, especially the health sector, as well as the private sector, parliaments, and other organizations linked to the economic management of the crisis, to ensure that women have a central role in responses to COVID-19.
April 20, 2020
On Thursday, April 16, 2020, ParlAmericas held its first virtual meeting for Latin American parliamentary staff on the organization of virtual parliamentary sessions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This meeting was successfully attended by parliamentary officials from 16 countries in the region. The panelists, Gustavo Vasconcellos, Technology and Information Analyst in the Innovation and ICT Directorate of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies; Miguel Landeros, Secretary General of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies; and Claudio Prieto, General Coordinator of Technology and Information of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, provided valuable experiences in parliamentary adaptation measures to allow legislatures to perform their important functions during this unprecedented period of our history.
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, stated during her speech that "we are committed to providing useful tools and spaces for dialogue to share the best practices that are being developed in the region to face the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that allow parliaments to adapt to this new teleworking system.” At the beginning of the meeting, the President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, César Litardo, spoke of the successful experience of passing laws using a new voting platform, as was the case with the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law and the School Feeding Law.
During the conclusions, Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís Quirós (Costa Rica), member of the Board of Directors of ParlAmericas, highlighted that “the experience and best practices shared by the panelists, as well as the participants, allow us to deepen our knowledge as we continue evaluating options and defining solutions that best suit our parliaments and national circumstances.”
March 26, 2020
The global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus presents an unprecedented challenge, for which we must develop innovative techniques that ensure the fulfilment of our respective functions, while following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevention of the spread of this virus. As parliaments are the highest instance of democratic representation, legislators must continue to project the voice of citizens and keep them informed of the measures that are being adopted to protect public health.
For that reason, ParlAmericas has developed a publication on COVID-19 and the role of parliament during a pandemic in order to present an overview of the socioeconomic and public health implications of this pandemic; mitigation and adaptation recommendations in order to continue performing parliamentary work; and a reflection on the important role of parliamentarians during a health crisis, bearing in mind the role of political control over the actions being taken in our countries.
This document includes measures that parliaments are putting into practice, such as the approval of provisions that allow for plenary and committee sessions to be held virtually, as is the case of the parliaments of Brazil, Chile and Ecuador. As such, we wish to offer our support and advice by making available the tools and efforts that are being developed.
This publication will be updated taking into account the latest events concerning COVID-19, for which we would appreciate any comments you may have, as well as information on the mitigation and adaptation measures being implemented in the parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean. Kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage the hemisphere's legislatures to find in this situation an opportunity to coordinate actions and to revive cooperation activities in the interests of our peoples.
Member of the National Assembly, Ecuador
President of ParlAmericas
 The Ecuadorian parliament has approved the “Regulation for the Implementation of Virtual Sessions and Provisional Teleworking”, activated two digital platforms (sessions and voting) and arranged for the opening of electronic service channels. These efforts make it possible to continue providing institutional services. For more information on the Ecuadorian experience, you may wish to contact the following: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 12, 2020
In response to the global situation with regard to the outbreak and expansion of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil and ParlAmericas regret to inform you that the 5th Gathering of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network: Counteracting disinformation to promote a responsible public discourse to be held in Brasilia, Brazil, from April 1 to 3, 2020, has been postponed for the safety of parliamentary delegations, specialists and international organizations that would participate in the meeting and to prevent amplifying the spread of the virus.
The Chamber of Deputies of Brazil and ParlAmericas are in talks to define new dates for this meeting, while closely following the evolution of COVID-19 and the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Once confirmed, member parliaments and international institutions will be informed of the new dates in a timely manner.
ParlAmericas reaffirms its commitment to continue promoting legislative openness in the hemisphere and working to meet its goals and objectives for 2020.
March 4, 2020
On March 5, 6, and 9, 2020, ParlAmericas and Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) will host the inaugural Young Women in Leadership initiative (YWiL) in Port of Spain, in partnership with the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. This initiative will bring together more than 55 young women leaders between the ages of 18-25 from across Trinidad and Tobago who are interested in politics and community leadership for skills-building workshops, networking sessions, and dialogue on themes of importance to the country. The leadership workshops will culminate in a historic all-women sitting in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago on March 9 in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Grounded in the concept of transformational leadership to support the advancement of human rights and full equality for all persons, the YWiL leadership workshops will include sessions on applying a gender lens in decision-making, building effective leadership skills, and exploring personal leadership styles and planning.
The two-day leadership workshops will prepare participants for the first-ever all-women YWiL Parliamentary Sitting in the Chamber of the House of Representatives where each participant will serve as a parliamentarian or officer of parliament for a debate on a budget amendment bill developed through a gender-responsive budgeting process. This simulated bill will propose fund reallocations in line with identified gender equality priorities, which participants will review and share responses drawing on their expertise and research, and in line with their assigned role. The Sitting will conclude with remarks by the Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors.
This initiative is one in a series of such activities that will be organised in countries across the region, forming a core component of the ParlAmericas-CIWiL joint project to advance women’s political participation in the Caribbean, supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. Each activity will be designed to encourage young women to consider public leadership as a future career path, and to build knowledge, skills, and networks beneficial to this work. Participants will also be encouraged to share their learning to positively impact their communities and countries.
Follow the meeting using #YWiLTT, or by visiting the @ParlAmericas and @_CIWiL social media pages.
February 10, 2020
Following the event that occurred in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador on Sunday, February 9, ParlAmericas expresses its concern and calls for dialogue between all of the actors and institutions of the democratic system to overcome the political crisis, valuing their autonomy and acting in the best interests of the public.
The autonomy of the parliament is essential in democracies to ensuring a balance of State powers. Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, highlighted that, “In recognition of the universal principle of sovereignty and the right to self-determination, we advocate for finding a speedy resolution that reduces the political and social tension being experienced in the country."
ParlAmericas, as the institution that promotes parliamentary diplomacy in the inter-American system, reaffirms its strong commitment to democracy and its will to support the strengthening of parliamentary institutions throughout the region.
February 10, 2020
On February 10-11, 2020, ParlAmericas will co-organise a multi-stakeholder meeting in collaboration with UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean; the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit at the University of the West Indies - Cave Hill; Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL); the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; and CARICOM. The meeting, titled Building a coordinated position for Caribbean negotiations on Beijing+25, will bring together ministers, parliamentarians, and representatives from civil society and multilateral organisations as well as gender machinery from the Anglophone Caribbean countries.
The meeting’s objectives are to hold focused dialogue on the review processes, negotiations, and next steps for the Caribbean region within fora that commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which resulted from the historic Fourth World Conference on Women.
Speaker of the House of Assembly His Honour Arthur Holder (Barbados), Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, will offer welcoming remarks on behalf of ParlAmericas. The agenda also includes various other parliamentary interventions and inputs on priority gender equality issues for the region.
The outcomes of the meeting are expected to support the region’s alignment of political messaging and advocacy at the upcoming 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and ahead of various other important international and regional meetings on gender equality commitments. These will include activities associated with Generation Equality, a multigenerational initiative that will have various galvanizing moments throughout the year to address the unfinished objectives related to women’s empowerment in all spheres of life.
To follow and participate in this meeting virtually on ParlAmericas’ social media networks, please use #Beijing25Caribbean and #ParlAmericasGEN.
January 31, 2020
During the week of January 25-31, 2020, ParlAmericas participated in the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that is convened at least triennially.
The Conference, on the theme of “Women’s Autonomy in Changing Economic Scenarios,” was hosted in the city of Santiago by the Government of Chile. It was attended by ministers and parliamentarians, government representatives, and experts and activists from across the region. The Conference served as a forum for assessing the situation of women’s autonomy and rights at the regional and subregional levels, presenting public policy recommendations for gender equality, and national reporting on the fulfillment of regional and international plans and agreements on the subject. This year’s Conference was particularly significant given the global review processes that are underway to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
A critical outcome of this meeting was the adoption of the Santiago Commitment, which acknowledges the achievements and progress made in the region over the last 25 years – as evidenced in the national reports submitted to ECLAC and UN Women. It also outlines government commitments to enact measures aimed at accelerating the effective implementation of the Beijing Platform and the Regional Gender Agenda.
Within the framework of the Conference, the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership organized an official side event titled “Investing in Women’s Leadership to Change Economic Scenarios: Lessons and Cooperation with the Private Sector.” The panellists included the Honourable Samantha Marshall, Minister responsible for gender affairs (Antigua and Barbuda); Carolina Cuevas Merino, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Women and Gender Equity (Chile); Cecilia Flores Castañón, President of Women CEO (Peru); Bridget Lewis, Co-founder of SheLeadsIt (Caribbean region); Johnny Méndez, Communications Manager at Medronic (Chile); and Liriola Leoteau de Ávila, women’s rights advocate (Panama).
The Task Force, of which ParlAmericas is an active member, additionally held an internal work-planning meeting on the margins of the Conference.
January 25, 2020
On January 23-24, 2020, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, participated in the 11th Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Follow-up Commission of the Pacific Alliance (CISAP in Spanish), held in Santiago, Chile. On this occasion, parliamentary delegations from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico were in attendance, as well as former Minister and Member of Congress Ana María Choquehuanca (Peru).
During this CISAP gathering, delegates addressed issues of high priority in the region, such as migration and climate change. Delegates also discussed the political, economic and social situation in Latin America and the interest of member and associate countries of the Pacific Alliance in achieving human development in line with the region's expectations
Member of the National Assembly Cabezas noted, "spaces such as these allow us to accompany multilateral initiatives that help promote greater economic growth through cooperation and integration among the countries of our region. It also allows us to ratify, from the legislative branch, the mechanisms and regulations through which these cooperation agreements are fulfilled". Ms. Cabezas also emphasized ParlAmericas mission to strengthen democracy and governance in the hemisphere through cooperative political dialogue and good legislative practices.
Ms. Choquehuanca shared her experience in implementing the multi-party Green Caucus in the Congress of the Republic of Peru with the support of ParlAmericas. She explained how the foundation for the implementation of the caucus was laid, as well as its work commitments. She also reported on the commitment made by the Executive Branch to the Green Caucus to advance legislation related to climate change, environmental compensation areas, recovery of degraded forest ecosystems and the preservation of natural protected areas. Finally, she discussed the potential for replicating this initiative in other parliaments in the hemisphere.
For further information about the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow us on social media through @ParlAmericas.
January 6, 2020
ParlAmericas expresses its deep concern over the recent events in Venezuela related to the election of the executive body of the National Assembly.
Parliaments are fundamental institutions for democracy that guarantee the balance of State powers. Respecting the universal principle of popular sovereignty and the right to self-determination, ParlAmericas raises a respectful call for dialogue that incorporates the political pluralism of the country.
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, stated, “We advocate for the recovery of dialogue between Venezuela’s political forces in a framework of full respect for freedoms and institutional mechanisms in search of a democratic and peaceful solution to the current situation in Venezuela.” She added that, "The rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed." ParlAmericas reaffirms its strong commitment to democracy and its will to support the strengthening of parliamentary institutions throughout the region.