Worldwide, Women Seek Greater Political Representation

Posted on 23 August 2007. Filed under: Affirmative Action |

WASHINGTON, Aug 22 (OneWorld) – Around the world countries have managed varying levels of success in assuring equal political participation and representation for women. But activists are working as hard as ever to secure unbiased opportunities for women and men alike in the political sphere.

Women at a political rally in Nigeria.
Women at a political rally in Nigeria. © Centre for Development and Population Activities

Last week the Kenyan government dealt a huge setback to equity-minded activists and politicians as it rejected a bill that would have reserved 50 seats in its parliament for women. The bill, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, was left in limbo as roughly half the members of parliament departed the building ahead of the vote.

With only 18 (8 percent) female representatives in a 222 seat parliament, Kenya trails far behind neighboring Tanzania, where women occupy 30 percent of the parliamentary posts. Even impoverished Rwanda, still struggling to recover from years of civil war, boasts a 49 percent representation in its lower house.

The situation is not necessarily better in many more developed nations. The Council of Europe has shown great concern recently over signs of disproportionate and gendered representation in the European political sphere.

At a 2003 meeting of the Council’s Committee of Ministers, participants agreed on the necessity of ”balanced participation in decision making bodies.” In order to facilitate action and measure effectiveness, the Committee established that “the representation of either women or men [in any given political body] should not fall below 40 percent.”

But by 2005 Sweden was still the only country in which the national parliament met this benchmark. Although several countries, including the remaining Scandinavian nations, Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, came close to meeting the criterion, “in half of Europe, the representation of women was below 20 percent and seven countries had less than 10 percent” representation — Albania, Armenia, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Turkey, and Ukraine.

A parallel state of affairs was witnessed in the respective national governments as well as the Council of Europe.

Responding to these challenging statistics, the Committee of Ministers considered a variety of measures that might encourage and sustain women’s pursuit of political careers.

Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor of Germany.
Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor of Germany. © North-South Centre of the Council of Europe

One of these programs, widely recognized in the United States as Affirmative Action, revolved around the implementation of quotas. The Committee of Ministers concluded that such a system is not only controversial and discriminatory but may also raise questions regarding the competence of employees. Furthermore, the Ministers feared that quotas may simply reinforce the status quo unless they are “sufficiently ambitious.”

Accordingly, the legal quotas remain few and far between in Europe as most governments prefer to invest in “various forms of voluntary targets.”

Indeed, the representation of women in European parliaments has improved since the 2005 statistics were taken. Partly thanks to initiatives that raise awareness and set new norms, such as that forged by the Committee of Ministers, “it is now rather an electoral disadvantage not to be able to bring forward a gender balanced list” and “the nomination process has become self-correcting.”

Confirming Europeans’ commitment to such change, this spring an Albanian women’s coalition hosted the Open Forum: ”Local Elections 2007 and Participation of Women and Young Girls in the Political Processes in Albania.”

The forum addressed topics such as the call for a female presidential candidate and women’s involvement and representation in the latest local elections.

The meeting was characterized by lively and interesting debate but several leaders “expressed their concerns that although many initiatives have taken place during the election period, still the number of women candidates was very low.”

The participants generally endorsed the call for a woman president but concluded that a joint effort by Albanian civil society and the political sphere would be necessary to achieve deep-seated change.

Similarly, South Asian activists are exceptionally concerned that women are not adequately represented in the region’s political realm. As such, the South Asia Partnership International (SAPI) is organizing a regional conference on ”Women in Politics: Breaking the Silence”, to be held next month in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Rights advocates identify the macho political culture and violence targeting female politicians as major impediments to women wishing to rise within South Asian political ranks.

Organizers hope the South Asia Regional Conference will allow participants to consolidate their voices as they “share knowledge and resources,” enhance regional understanding, and raise awareness among South Asian authorities, as well as regional and international bodies.

Article first published at

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

8 Responses to “Worldwide, Women Seek Greater Political Representation”

RSS Feed for Kenya Environmental & Political News Weblog Comments RSS Feed

I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be utilizing?

I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest site
and I’d like to find something more secure. Do you have any suggestions?

Pest cuban comedian Control technicians use.
For single bees, which is left entirely untouched by homeowners.
Also, eco-savvy residential consumers are more susceptible to garden pes control in Delhi are quite
old and perhaps gardening and pes control. In the winter temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees during the
petiod of time.

The legislation authorizes the creation of
4 marijuana production and dishing out services, which would be the only
source of authorized medical hashish. Verify again for
extra details once the law is enacted (possession of marijuana for medical functions stays illegal till this happens, estimated to be sometime in 2015).

We really useful to purchase EROVER Two Wheels Smart Self Balancing Scooters or related product from the
hyperlink supplied bellow.

Every teen and tween might be fascinated with seeing how their favourite pastry, bread and baked items are made during Mrs Baird’s Houston Bakery tour.

That being mentioned, a relationship that is essentially sound doesn’t require people to spend lot of money on that individual day
to be able to survive.

This paragraph gives clear idea in favor of the new viewers of blogging,
that actually how to do running a blog.

It’s an amazing piece of writing designed for all
the online viewers; they will get advantage from it I am sure.

Where's The Comment Form?


    A blog created to cover environmental and political information in Kenya with a view to promoting POVERTY ALLEVIATION through creating awareness of the Millennium Development Goals


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: