Women in politics have often been considered interlopers. They clash with an environment that was born as a scope for the action of male adult spokespeople from the high social class. Women are frequently defined as unsuitable for the confrontation with political figures and themes. Here are some examples. In 2016 for the first time the Japanese Democratic Party has entrusted the role of leader to a woman. Renhō, 48, is a radical choice: she is a woman unlike her male and old foregoers. This September the party’s popularity fell from 9 to 8.3 per cent. Why? Renhō is competent and has promised to put effort into making measures on topics such as child-rearing and nursing care, but political rival Shinzō Abe (Ldp), currently prime minister, has planned to boost the number of women in the police force and to drastically reduce the negative influence that the old marital tax relief system has had on keeping women away from full-time working positions.
Why would Japan choose a man, even if devoted to the cause, over a working woman and mother, likewise devoted and capable, to legislate on such an important matter to Japanese as it is working women with children conditions? In Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, first female Brazilian president, after winning re-election in 2014, has been removed from office by senate for moving funds between government budgets. The impeachment had weak foundation and seemed to be an excuse to stop Rousseff’s wide-ranging corruption investigation which resulted in many high-profile politicians being charged. Michel Temer, from the center-right PMDB party, will govern until 1st January 2019 with a team made up of white men only, as to mark the change from a so-thought corrupted and incapable government held by a woman to a “new era” of clean and fair white politics of men. Indeed, South Korea is at the forefront of maternity protection for female workers: fathers have 53 weeks of paid paternity leave, more than every other country of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), but only 2 per cent of them took advantage of this benefit in 2014.
Moreover, just one third of female employees come back to work after maternity and the South Korean average salary gap between men and women working full time is the worst in the OECD. As a cause and a result of this, most of South Koreans are reluctant to businesswomen. Cultural prejudice is, indeed, an insuperable barrier, especially if foreign companies find a (female) talent convenient because underpaid, and therefore cheap. These preconceptions don’t make life easy to Western women either. In September 2016, Frauke Petry, the woman leading AfD (Alternative for Germany), inveighed against German chancellor Angela Merkel (Cdu), saying that a female without children can’t be able to make politics. Is being a mother a woman’s only contribution to society?
Few months later hate against the establishment and a believed-long-gone misogyny prevented the possibility of having a woman as chief of the “free world”. A strong prejudice appears to exist against women, who are considered incapable and unsuitable for the management of public affairs. Why does this happen? Women have to prove to be more trained and competent of everyone from the opposite gender, as if men were the only ones rightfully entitled to decide about the fate of a whole country or to manage a multinational company. Of course, gender gap is being filled in the business world as is in politics but recognition of parity isn’t the reason this process is taking place. The ultimate goal of quotas for women is to respond, without excessively damaging the social structure as it is, to the request of attention women have been shouting in the past years.
Their voice has being heard but not listened to. Modern feminism hasn’t been able to dismantle the misconception of women’s roles and desires. Rather, our governments are becoming always less devoted to female and human rights. Being young and mostly poor girls from El Salvador sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment because believed guilty of capital murder for having a miscarriage or complications during childbirth, and having feminicide, domestic violence and pregnancy among teenagers taking place in this so-thought modern world is disconcerting. This doesn’t mean politics don’t “care” about women. Different thoughts on their liberty and autonomy are bargaining chip in the campaign war and index of a more or less conservative politics. President Donald Trump’s administration, in office from January 20th, has promised to cut funds from the only form of assistance for the practice of abortion provided for low paid women and has already voted against the obligation to contribute to the funding of contraception in the new program replacing the Affordable care act, despite the decreasing number of abortions in the last years due to the spread of better contraceptive methods. We have come to a point where some governments expressively declare to be enemies of reproductive rights. There’s a great indignation. The only thing left to do is to publicly express this indignation.
The Women March on Washington that took place on January 21st is just an example of the way this can be done. In Poland, last October, women marched in droves to get the government to abandon the idea of making abortion illegal. Otherwise women pregnant as a result of raping or those carrying a fetus with severe malformations would have been forced to take pregnancy to term. Consequences of such a law would have been the persecution and the punishment of women who already had had deliberate abortions, and those of doctors, husbands, partners, and friends who had supported the decision. Indeed, legislation on abortion is a matter for everybody, not only women. Even though lots of Polish women didn’t take part in the protest because of their fear of reprisals by the employers, as a consequence of the so-called “Black Friday”, on October 3rd, the government of Poland withdrew its support for the draft law. In Russia, activists from Pussy Riot group were imprisoned because of a demonstration organized to draw attention on detention conditions of Russian women. They before often were caught performing in the historic sites of Moscow.
On one of these occasions they were arrested and convicted for “hooliganism aggravated by religious hatred”, even if several irregularities about their case were reported. Despite risks, political activity is at the moment the only way we have to transform the indignation at the decisions taken without our consensus and the pride we have in ourselves into an action to produce a useful political change. We must ensure that the new movement is comprehensive. It needs to reproduce our globalized and mix countries and to build an alliance where everybody is represented, regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and social, economic, political, mental and physical status. Gender, racial and economic justice are, indeed, the same. To meet this goal society needs to direct time and resources towards concrete causes, to commit to equality in our daily lives in and to be tiles on which to build a new society that would be rich because diversified but inclusive. The broad thrust coming from millions of citizens has to be reflect in the institutions and the agencies of the governments so that the fundamental role that politics has in ensuring freedom of thought and action for all can be fulfilled.
Women in Business_Bocconi Students Association