écrit par Yasmine Hedhiri

As a young woman who recently discovered her passion for politics, history, social sciences, and also gender equality and women’s rights, I wanted to learn more about women’s place in our society, more specifically in politics. Lately, in the news, I’ve been hearing a lot about women in the United States of America. Women in congress, women running the 2020 presidential election, women’s protest against several states passing tough laws to restrict abortions…

The first step for me was to perform an in-depth research about these topics to understand what was going on and to answer some important questions. What is women’s place in politics in the most powerful country of the world? And why are women important in politics?

Here’s what I found.

Women in government in the modern era are generally underrepresented in most countries worldwide. In many of these countries, women have had inadequate opportunities in social participation, especially in striving for political rights and power in the government and different institutions. This historical tendency still persists, although women are increasingly being politically elected to be heads of state and government. The latest Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that it will take another 99 years for the world to achieve gender-equal political representation if we continue at our current pace. Having only one woman for every four men in parliaments around the world is a clear indication of how ineffective societies are at tapping into the potential talent of more than 50% of the population. There are, of course, important variations: Nordic countries are the most gender-equal, and Rwanda is the world champion for female participation in politics. Arab and Gulf countries stand at the other end of the spectrum. As a woman coming from these countries, I personally feel a titanic gender gap not only in politics but also in my everyday life.

UN Women estimates that globally, men represent 77% of parliamentarians, 82% of government ministers, 93% of heads of government and 94% of heads of state. And each time a woman reaches the top of an organization or political party, it makes global headlines.

Let’s take the example of the United States of America: we all heard about the record number of women elected to congress recently. It’s an amazing thing even though we still have a long way to go.

As of 2019, women occupy 127 (23.7%) of the 535 seats in the United States Congress (106 Democratic, 21 Republican).

Even better news, more women of color are serving in the House of Representatives than ever before!

But only 8.8% of the total members of Congress are women of color.

You also all probably heard about the 2020 election, and unless you’re living under a rock you likely know that out of the whopping 24 Democrats in the 2020 race, there are six women, which is more women running for president than ever in history. Who knows, maybe one of these women will be elected in 2020:

– Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

– Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

– Sen. Kamala Harris

– Sen. Amy Klobuchar

– Sen. Elizabeth Warre

– Marianne Williamson

Women in 2019 are breaking records: their presence in politics is increasing, but here are more statistics showing that women are still underrepresented. Few women have ever held a US cabinet position. Only nine US governors are women in 2019. Women hold only 27.6% of statewide elective executive offices around the country. 28.7% of US state legislators are currently women.

Accordingly, the meaningful participation of women in national, local and community leadership roles has become an important focus on global development policy. Still, some may ask why it matters if women become political leaders, elected policymakers, or civil society activists. Why does the world need more women involved in all aspects of the political process? Women’s political participation results in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and a more sustainable future.

Women’s participation in politics helps advance gender equality and affects both the range of policy issues being addressed and the types of solutions that are proposed. Research indicates that whether a legislator is male or female has a distinct impact on their policy priorities. There is also strong evidence that, as more women are elected to office, there is a corollary increase in policy making that emphasizes quality of life and reflects the priorities of families, women, and ethnic and racial minorities.

Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives and those representatives should, really, represent the population in order to understand its needs. For example, laws concerning women shouldn’t only be taken by men; laws concerning minorities should be taken by representatives of those minorities.

In my opinion, for societies to evolve in a healthy way to face all of the upcoming threats, politics has to change and to represent more closely the population, which means having more women, people of color and minorities. This change should not only concern the political class but also big companies, schools…

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