UNIFEM, the UN Developement Fund for Women, has released a report on the position of the world’s women politically. It includes both the representation of women in government and the responsiveness of governments to women’s needs and concerns. An important world wide development is that the last ten years have seen a significant increase -8%-in women’s representation in national governments; that contrasts with a 1% increase in the previous two decades. Though generally far below the “parity zone” of 40-60%, 18.4% of women hold national elected positions.
The report is careful to say that responsiveness to women’s needs is not an immediate and automatic result of increasing representations, but representation is certainly important for it.
The news in the US is not nearly as good. Women hold 16.3% of the seats in the current Congress. The US is 68th in the world in the representation of women in national elected positions. The 20% of women in Britain in comparable positions is better, but still far behind too many developed and developing countries, including Costa Rica (36.8%), Nepal (33.6%) and Rwanda at 48.8%.
The report and a summary highlight quotas in political parties as an effective way to increase women’s representation.
So when when we wonder why the US has a health care crisis, unequal pay for women in too many areas, and fails to be more responsive to global warming and is increasingly repressive of women’s reproductive rights, it may be there’s a simple answer. From this perspective, it is a tragedy that the woman who could end up at VP, and then even as President, has no interest in furthering women’s interests in these interests. Equally importantly, those of us voting in the US have a party which at least officially supports our interests.
Thanks to Ms for news of the report.