Women and Government: New Ways to Political Power

Women and Government: New Ways to Political Power

Women and Government: New Ways to Political Power

Women and Government: New Ways to Political Power

Synopsis

Examines the political status of women in the world's governments and challenges the view that women in the United States and other countries are breaking through traditional barriers to achieve unprecedented political power.

Excerpt

As the twentieth century nears its end, a constant theme of the growing worldwide women's movement has been the need for empowerment of the female half of the human race. The year 2000 has been repeatedly invoked as the goal for the achievement of feminism's holy grail of social, economic, political and legal equality. Women struggle for their rights not only because they regard equality as inherently just, but because they believe that by sharing equally with men the power to shape and govern societies, they can create a better world for all people.

Great, once unimaginable positive transformations have occurred in the status and lifestyles of millions of women, and everywhere, in the developing nations as well as in the industrialized superpower nations, women are organizing to change their lives. Although women remain a majority of the poor and illiterate in all countries, many have made remarkable progress and others are on the way. But millions remain ghettoized in cultures dominated by patriarchal and fundamentalist religious values, and in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European nations, women are caught up in a misogynist backlash that threatens even the limited rights they once had taken for granted.

With a few notable exceptions, women seeking equality have been finding it most difficult to break into the male political power structures where the decisions are made about how people--men, women and children--are to live, and how they may die. As a United Nations report pointed out, whether the countries involved are rich or poor, small or large, developed or underdeveloped, women have very limited access to decision-making posts as heads of governments or members of parliaments, cabinets or in such international institutions as the UN itself.

Only a handful of women are presidents or prime ministers. The most recent survey showed an average of 11% inclusion of women in the legislatures of the world, ranging from about a third or more in a half-dozen countries to zero in . . .

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