Women In Decision Making & Access To Political Office

Throughout history, women who constitute fifty percent of global populations are underrepresented in decision-making processes at all governance levels around the world and even they are dominated and marginalized politically, socially, economically, physically and psychologically by their counter parts.

Women have been denied equal access to education, training and gainful employment opportunities and their involvement in policy formulation and decision-making processes have been minimal. We also suffer from work stereotype and gender distribution of labor, more are occupying in economically invisible work. Women experience lower socioeconomic status in general and hence is marginalized from making decisions at all levels.

Nonetheless, women are poor in terms of access to resources, services and employment]. Women need strong advocacy groups and platforms to make their voices and concerns heard. Therefore, this training should create that opportunity to enable women in politics form their own network and advocacy groups.Most of the time in our bid to seek access to political office, we are challenged with personal attacks.Manywomen in underdeveloped countries are victims of these attacks which they find difficult to address.

Such personal attacks have a multiplying effect because you start to have pressure from your family asking you to back out and save your reputation and that of the family.Politics is almost everywhere a male-oriented, male-dominated enterprise and female political participation is not as such good as expected. In today’s discussion of women’s political representation, there are different important arguments.

The Justice argument states that women account for approximately half the population and therefore have the right to be represented as such, whilst the experience argument notes that women’s experiences are different from men’s and need to be represented in discussions that result in policy-making and implementation. These different experiences mean that women ‘do politics’ differently from men.

The interest argument delineates the sexes and proves that the interests of men and women are different and even conflicting and therefore women are needed in representative institutions to articulate the interests of women.

The symbolic argument states that every female politician acts as a role model for all women, regardless of political views or party membership and will attract other women to the political arena.

In conclusion the critical mass argument makes it interestingly clear that women are able to achieve solidarity of purpose to represent women’s interests when they achieve certain levels of representation; and the democracy argument asserts that the equal representation of women and men enhances the democratization of governance in both transitional and consolidated democracies.

All of the arguments deal about the importance of women inclusion in politics are great.

As a result, women need to be included equally with men in every sphere of their life. The present government should give priority to the speeding up of equality between men and women. Practically for example the government should revisit the national policy on women with the objective of speeding up of equality between men and women, so that women can participate in the political, social, and economic life of their country on equal terms with men, ensuring that their right to own property as well as their other human rights are respected and that they are not excluded from the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour or from performing public functions and being decision makers.

In many countries, traditions continue to emphasize women’s primary roles as mothers and housewives and to restrict them to those roles. A traditional strong, patriarchal value system favors sexually segregated roles, and ‘traditional cultural values’ militate against the advancement, progress and participation of women in any political process. Societies all over the world are dominated by an ideology of ‘a woman’s place’. According to this ideology, women should only play the role of ‘working mother’, which is generally low-paid and apolitical.

Culturally, there is a belief that women are supposed to be led but not to lead. In fact stereotyped notions constitute major barriers; a societal perception about leadership ability of women, women’s lack of assertiveness is some barriers that hinder the participation of women. In this regard traditional attitudes towards gender equality influence women’s advancement in political participation. Theories of socialization have long emphasized the enduring division of sex roles within a society especially the existence of egalitarian or traditional attitudes towards women in the private and public spheres.

Religion is another important source of cultural beliefs in most countries. Arguments about women’s inferiority to men are present across all dominant religions, and religion has long been used to exclude women from aspects of social, political, or religious life around the world.    But the major religions of the world are differentially conservative or patriarchal in their views about the place of women, both in the church hierarchy and in society.

For example, Protestantism promotes non hierarchical religious practices and more readily accepts women as religious leaders compared with Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. And Islamic law is typically interpreted in a manner that constrains the activities of women. Hence, exclusion of women from religious institutions and religious leadership may have a negative impact on women’s status in society and limit their opportunities in politics and public life. Hence, religious is one of the anachronistic cultural beliefs in many communities in the country that excludes women from the mainstream of leadership. In most religions, power and authority is believed to divinely belong to men hence subjugating women.

Women’s historical experience of discrimination puts them at a disadvantage position economically. Socio economic status of women to a greater extent plays a significant role in enhancing their participation and representation in political decision making bodies. Making it easier for women to access economic resources, therefore, is a key in expanding women’s presence in the political realm.

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