Can Women Politicians be Change Agents for Women?
Something interesting has happened over the last few weeks, quietly and almost without much focus has heralded an exciting possibility – p5+1 Nations of the world (Un Security Council’s five permanent members along with Germany) will possibly have half of its representatives as women provided Ms. Hillary Clinton wins the presidential race in the USA (Ms. Theresa May has taken over as Prime Minster of UK and Ms. Angela Merkel is Chancellor of Germany).
Many studies show a direct relationship between women’s decision-making power with regard to peace and conflict. That apart will this change also prove to be a catalyst to bring more women into active politics or for any of us, yes you, me, our neighbor and most readers here of this blog: women at work breaking the glass ceiling now to usher in a more gender equal world and reducing the gender gap? I analyze this below and because this is a complex question, there won’t be a straight forward answer
In India, we continue to ponder over 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha on one hand while on the other women chief ministers rule powerful states and get reelected with thumping majorities to reaffirm their strong support in their states as they fortify their cult status. I bet if I was to ask the names of 5 women chief ministers serving currently, you would be able to name them in a jiffy. Well they are- Anandiben Patel (Gujarat), J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Mehbooba Mufti (J&K), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan)
Many studies show a direct relationship between women’s decision-making power with regard to peace and conflict.
Hence, it’s fair to think that women cadres in the party must feel safer and more empowered with a woman leading the charge and hence must mean that the situation on the ground will change and we will see the emergence of more women leaders just like some of these aforementioned ladies.
South Asia has produced many women leaders who have gone onto become presidents and prime ministers of note and contributed significantly. India has Indira Gandhi, Srilanka has Chandrika Kumaratunga, Bangladesh has Sheikh Hasina and Pakistan has Benazir Bhutto. But the impact of their leadership on a change for/of/by women is debatable because South Asian countries still rank the lowest on most indicators like gender parity, health, literacy and human development. Hence just having women at the helm may not necessarily bring about effective change on the ground that will make centuries of patriarchy and mindsets disappear but maybe this will make women leadership become more acceptable in traditional cultures and help break new ground with women inspiring for similar positions
A simplified answer to world hunger would be to produce more food. Similarly a simplified answer to the solution of empowering women could be to bring more women to power, one would assume but does that work? The simple answer is not simple and no magic wand can with one swish change gender dynamics in a world order that’s so deeply entrenched in what we wish to eradicate. Case in point: a Black president in USA has not stopped violence against the blacks in the most progressive and powerful country in the world.
The message for a every girl growing up now should be: Anything is possible and women can rule (50% of) the world(‘s most powerful countries) as they do today yes today but there is a lot that needs to change and she can be the torch bearer with aspirations so big and achievements even bigger that a new world order gets created with her contributions.
So what do you think ladies? I would love to hear from you -Post any feedback or question you have in the comment box below, or tweet to me @jasuja on Twitter.
About the author: Monica Jasuja is a Payments Ninja specializing in Digital Payments Initiatives to further India’s progress as a less cash dependent economy. She is a Product Strategist with work experience in 4 geographies globally and brings knowledge and firsthand experience of designing, developing products with the wow factor. This article expresses her personal views, and not those of any of her employers—past, present or future. Monica is available on Twitter: @jasuja