Credit: Daniel Ostenso Copyright: GetSet-Go nfp 2012.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (WOMENSENEWS)--About 80 women lined up outside a hall of the city legislature here in May to inaugurate the Women's Parliament, or Parlamento de Mujeres.
The parliament, whose formation was approved by lawmakers in April 2011, aims to fortify local institutions working on women's issues by transforming their most important initiatives into bills in the city's legislature.
"It has a progressive dynamic that permits advancement," says Fabiana Túñez, a member of the group.
Túñez leads an organization, La Casa del Encuentro, which promotes women's social networks and lobbies for policies to combat all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination against women and children. She says the new political body will help advance bills so that they don't get bogged down in the process.
She adds that the importance of the new parliament lies in the direct contact it affords between city lawmakers and advocates representing the citizenry.
"We are in the field, in what affects the reality of the women," Túñez says. "We needed a more organic environment where we could make proposals from civil society."
Later in September, the group will meet for the second of their planned semiannual meetings.
Representatives of advocacy groups will continue proposing initiatives for lawmakers in the Women's Parliament to move along the pipeline.
At the first meeting in May -- held on the International Day of Action for the Health of Women -- participants championed initiatives concerning a range of topics, from labor fairness to gender-identity rights.
One participant cited the need for child care and places for breastfeeding for employees in their workplaces.
Another talked about legalizing abortion and implementing sexual health education in primary schools.
Another emphasized the need for better preventive health, arguing that early diagnosis saves women's lives.
Marcela Romero, a leading activist for transgender rights, received a welcoming applause in recognition of the passage of a law earlier this year allowing people to override the legal gender assigned to them at birth and choose their own gender definition.
María José Lubertino, one of the group's presiding deputies from the city legislature, says the Women's Parliament will push beyond formal declarations of equality to spur on-the-ground change.
The new political body, she says, provides an opportunity to mobilize the structure of the state and to transform the legislative environment into a space of citizen participation.
María Elena Naddeo, a deputy who is president of the Buenos Aires' Commission on Women, Infants and Adolescents, is another key link between the representatives of women's rights organizations and city lawmakers.
Naddeo says she began proposing the idea of special sessions for women to the Buenos Aires city legislature as far back as 1998. But it took 13 years to muster enough city legislators to win approval for the formal creation of the Women's Parliament, which can host as many as 60 organizational participants that will be nominated annually.
Dina Gonzalez reports for Global Press Institute's Argentina news desk. She became a journalist to promote understanding of different social groups and to drive social change.
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