Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where are the women?

Although women make up 51 percent of the world’s population, they hold only 16 percent of parliamentary and congressional seats worldwide.
Their presence in corporate and civic leadership positions remains limited by entrenched gender bias. Women’s civic and political participation is essential to the achievement of open and democratic societies.
As economies across the globe have become more interconnected than ever, women's increased participation in the labor force outside the home has permitted families and countries to adapt and compete in the world economy.
Women are essential to economic development in every sense.
Yet, despite the fact that women constitute approximately half the population, women constitute a much smaller percentage of political representation in democracies across the world.
In response, many countries have adopted laws to guarantee a certain level of representation in their legislatures, either by reserving seats in the legislatures for women, or by requiring parties to present a certain percentage of women candidates.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) statistics, from 1945 to 1995 the percentage of women MPs worldwide has increased four-fold.
There are more women in government today than ever before but their numbers are not enough to change public policy and resource allocation patterns which are instrumental in bringing real benefits to women.
But still political parties often fail to adequately respond to significant barriers encountered by women standing for parliament.
These barriers have been summed up as the “four C’s” of confidence, culture, childcare and cash.
1. Tori Crawford from Switzerland wrote:
Women generally end up in politics as a result of campaining for change, and it tends to be a logical and resulting route to follow. Often they have been 'community' campaigners. Perhaps if girls at school, right from a young age, were encouraged more to talk about leadership opportunities and had powerful role models to inspire them, then maybe we would see more girls actively choose to enter the world of politics at a younger age - and thus rise to the top levels of governments around the world.

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