Why is it important to involve women in world politics?

wkmnbBahara Hussaini

About the author: Bahara Hussaini is a fomer teacher at Star. She graduated from Kabul University with a degree in English Literature. Now she is majoring in Political Science and Public Administration at the American University of Afghanistan and plans to work in women’s capacity building in the future.

According to Komath (2014) and UN Women (2011) the lack of female representatives is a truth evident all over the world. Both at the local and global levels, women’s participation in politics is limited. They state that involvement of women in politics differs from one country to another but, in general, their participation is restricted. UN Women (2011) adds that despite the fact that the abilities of women as leaders and agents of change has been proven and it is their absolute right in democratic countries, they face many problems such as discriminatory laws related to their participation in politics.

UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation notes that women in all parts of the world are largely marginalized from politics as a result of discriminatory laws, practices and gender prejudice. In addition, Kalandadza (2015) states that currently only 22% of female MPs represent all parliamentarians globally with an increase of approximately 4% over the past 5 years. UN Women began programs to increase women’s involvement in politics to reach to 30% globally such as providing training for female political candidates to build their capacities in order to have active participation in politics globally. Furthermore, Dokoupil (2011) says that though more than 90 years have passed from the time women were first elected to congress, female politicians are still taking passive roles in politics. This paper is going to explain that involvement of women in world politics is important due to three reasons. First, female politicians are better in shaping policy. Second, female politicians can address their needs by participating in politics. Third, female politicians enhance a peaceful world.

Female politicians perform better than their male colleagues in politics. Dokoupil (2011) states that according to research in the American Journal of Political Science, the performance of female politicians is better than their male counterparts. The research shows that between 1984 and 2004, female politicians gained their home districts $49 million more per year than their male rivals. The cash was not used only for women issues but for all parts in the society. In addition, Dokoupil says that female members also sponsored more bills than their male colleagues. Moreover, according to political scientists, Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, those bills which were introduced between 1981 and 2009 and those sponsored by females reached further in the legislative process and received more press attention. Public Policy Professor Christopher Berry and his student and Stanford doctoral candidate Sarah Anzia also concluded that it is women themselves who lead them to these successes.

Gilmore (2014) claims that women govern better than men because when female politicians are involved, the number of bills increases and more federal funding is secured. She also says that when women are on committees and in hearings, the nature of discussions is different and the results are better. Moreover, Makers (2015) adds that studies conducted at Stanford and Chicago Universities discovered that districts served by female legislators received about $49 million more than the districts served by male legislators. In addition, World Politics (2013) reported political issues are mostly related to men, even in democratic countries like United Kingdom and Australia where gender equality ratings are higher than other countries. It adds that such ignorance and bias against women in the news media has prevented women from actively being informed about political affairs, and it also discourages them from taking part in politics. Moreover, it reports that an interest in politics is not something people are born with. Boys are shaped to be interested and engaged in this field and feel that people will accept and listen to them.

Burrel (1991) and Dodson (1998) state that female politicians focus more on issues which affect them, such as gender equality, reproductive rights, elderly care and children’s welfare. Dodson’s research in the US finds out that the Women’s Health Initiative was passed only because female politicians were fighting for it. Before this program, the majority of medical research on heart disease related to men although women were twice as susceptible to heart disease. They state that more women are needed in politics to address and lobby for these issues otherwise, women who make 52% of the population will be ignored. In addition, Douglas (2013) stated that female politicians pay more attention to water supply, the health of children and education. Moreover, he states that the resulting policies were used to not only reduce poverty of women but to reduce the poverty of whole communities.

Female political participation contributes to a more peaceful world. USAID (2013) points out that women have the right to participate in political processes which affect them, their families and their communities. Countries with more female politicians are more inclusive, peaceful and responsive. It also states that female participants have the ability to expand the scope of agreements and maintain peace for a long time. In addition, Goudreau (2011) and Gilmore (2014) explain that women are innately peaceful and seek the good of all people. So, they can ensure a more peaceful world. Moreover, World Politics (2013) states that women must be allowed to participate in peace negotiations and also be a part of the peace process after a conflict. However, in the fourteen years since the cold war, about 60 conflicts took place around the world and women had very limited opportunities to participate in the negotiation on peace and security. Nevertheless, decisions taken after conflicts affect the lives of women and girls; therefore, it is important to allow females to take part in the peace process and in shaping the future of post conflict countries. In addition, Swamy (2001) says that women govern differently than their male colleagues. Her study on state committee chairpersons reveals that female politicians are more cooperative and consider all people’s opinions whereas men are more aggressive.

In conclusion, the involvement of women in politics differs from one country to another country but generally women are less involved in the world. Though it is their absolute right to participate in politics, they are marginalized from actively participating in politics. Currently only 22% of female MPs represent all parliamentarians globally whereas they made about 52% of population of the world. Involvement of women is important due to three reasons explained in this paper. First, the performance of female politicians who better results than their male colleagues. Though it was criticized that politics is the province of men and women are not interested in it, it is proven that it is the right of women to participate and they perform their job effectively. Secondly, when women take part in politics, they focus on their needs which are mostly ignored such as their education and child welfare. So, their participation is considered important to fight for their rights. Finally, female politicians help to build a peaceful world because they are naturally peaceful and have the ability to create agreements by gathering people and considering their opinions in decision making. In addition, their participation in peace and security negotiations of post conflict countries is important because the decisions taken affect their lives. That is, involvement of women in world politics is not only important for women, but it is also important for the whole society to have a peaceful world.

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