When you hear the words: “women” and “politics” in the same sentence, who is the first person that comes to mind? I would say Hilary Clinton maybe, and… and is that it? How many influential women in politics do you know? Okay, let me rephrase that, how many women engaged in politics could you name, now, on the spot! Now think about the number of men you could mention. Yes, the difference is that significant. Even though the situation is changing, politics is still considered today to be a men’s profession, implying that there still exists a substantial difference in the presence of women in politics relative to men.
Now you may think, “but they have equal opportunity today”, so what more do they want? Equal opportunity does not necessarily translate into equal outcome. The limits of equal opportunity are best explained by the words of President Lyndon Johnsons: “You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, you are free to compete with all the others, and justly believe you have been completely fair.” By substituting the word woman for man, we can comprehend that the present effects of past discrimination can prevent laws ensuring equal opportunity from realizing into equal outcomes. Thus, for women to have a real impact, more than just equal opportunity to participate is required.
Women should be represented in politics, approximately, in proportion to their presence in the overall population. This is a descriptive argument for women representation, and it hinges on the notion that gender groups are uniquely suited to represent themselves. Simply put, who else may know what is best for women other than themselves? Despite the assumption that in democracies elected representatives should serve the best interest of all in society, in practice, however, we have seen throughout history how difficult it is to think beyond one’s own interest. Thus, knowing that we typically deal with issues that are closest to us personally, it is normal to expect that men may not effectively deal with issues closely affecting women, nor should they. For instance, why should a man be the one who decides about abortion laws, when it is not his body that is at state? Therefore, women must be present themselves in the political arena, and, they need to be represented adequately not solely formally.
Do women make a difference? An increased presence of women in politics is not only beneficial for themselves but also for the overall society. A woman’s social value can be discerned through various effects, such as an increased responsiveness to societies’ needs, as well as a heightened perception of cooperation across parties as well as ethnic lines, however, the greatest merit that women can bring to the table is a different perspective. It is only natural that due to our observable differences we see things in a different way, so why not utilize that? Research suggests that female legislators prioritize political issues differently in comparison to their male counterparts. While male legislators are more likely to prioritize agriculture and employment policies, female legislators put more emphasis on family issues, education, and promoting health. Thus, women’s participation affects both the range of policy issues that get considered and the types of solutions that are proposed.
Finally, men shouldn’t see women as competition but allies. It might sound a bit cheesy, but, we are better together. By providing women with equal stand, we are not only advancing their interests but the quality of politics and thus the life in global society overall.