Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women

By Eschel M. Rhoodie | Go to book overview

3. The Environment of Discrimination

Political Power and Participation in the Legislature

The political environment of women is one which subjects them to as much discrimination as the job market. Perhaps "exclusion" is a better word; nonetheless, women's position in freely elected legislatures, as opposed to nominated ones such as are found in the Communist countries, is still extremely unrepresentative. Even in the Communist Bloc, women's representation in top civil service posts and in the policy-making organs such as the polit- buros is glaringly out of proportion to the number of women who are qualified voters.

In April 1946, just after World War II and under the watchful eyes of the American occupation forces, the Japanese elected 39 women to their parliament. Thirty-four years later, in 1980, they elected only nine. 1

In Western liberal democracies, with the exception of Nordic countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden, the situation is just as bad. At times during the 1970s Australia had no women in the national legislature. In the late '70s there were 3 percent women in the British Parliament, 5 percent in Canada and Spain, and 7 percent in West Germany. The pattern has remained unchanged during the '80s. A French delegate to the World Congress of Women in Moscow in June 1986 observed that during the last decade women in the French National Assembly had increased by more than 80 percent. Statistically this is true, but in 1975 there were only five women in the Assembly as against 28 in 1985, which really means that out of the 491 deputies to the French Assembly fewer than 6 percent were women. Even in municipal affairs, women in France constituted only 14 percent of the elected officials. 2

In Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the political environment gets progressively worse. In Taiwan, women, who gained equal political rights with the 1947 constitution, are limited to a handful of reserved seats which are set by the governing party. After the 1985 elections women comprised less than 17 percent of the provincial assembly members and less than 18 percent of the Taipei City Councillors. 3

On mainland China the 1954 Constitution of the People's Republic had proclaimed that women and men were equal and that women had equal rights with men in the political, economic, and social life. But after 30 years of equality what has China really achieved in the political representation for women? During the life of the six National People's Congresses (the legislative organ of China and the supreme authority of the country) since the constitution of

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Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Part One Introduction 1
  • 1. the Evaluation and Presentation of Data 2
  • 2. the Status of Women: A Global View 13
  • 3. the Environment of Discrimination 34
  • Part Two: Legal and International Aspects 61
  • 4. the International World 62
  • 5. Constitutional and Statutory Differentiation 79
  • Part Three: the African World 99
  • 6. General Survey. 100
  • 7. Case Study: Nigeria 115
  • 8. Case Study: Kenya Introduction 125
  • 9. Case Study: South Africa 136
  • Part Four: the European Community 165
  • 10. General Survey 166
  • 11. Case Study: United Kingdom 191
  • 12. Case Study: France 201
  • 13. Case Study: West Germany 214
  • 14. Case Study: Switzerland 227
  • Part Five: North America 239
  • 15. Case Study: Canada 240
  • Conclusion 247
  • 16 Case Study: The United States 248
  • Part Six: the Communist East Bloc 289
  • 17. General Survey 290
  • 18. Case Study: the Soviet Union 304
  • Part Seven: Latin America 321
  • 19. General Survey 322
  • 20. Brief Case Studies of Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru 332
  • Part Eight: the Arab-Muslim World 345
  • 21. General Survey 346
  • 22. Case Study: Egypt 363
  • 23. Case Study: Tunisia 369
  • 24. Case Study: Iran 375
  • Part Nine: the Asian World 383
  • 25. General Survey 384
  • 26. Case Study: India 395
  • 27. Case Study: Japan 402
  • 28. Case Study: the People's Republic of China 417
  • Part Ten: Conclusions, Recommendations, Guide to Data, and Research Proposals 431
  • 29. Summary and Conclusions 432
  • 31. Data: Guide to Information Sources 481
  • 32. Research Proposals 505
  • Notes 519
  • Bibliography 587
  • Index 601
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