Challenges for women in politics: the glass ceiling - stereotypes in terms of portfolio assignments
“The principles of gender-sensitive parliaments can be advanced if women occupy leadership positions as parliamentarians and as key members of parliamentary staff, as they are in a position to influence policy directions, change parliamentary procedure and practices, serve as role models to other women and provide a different perspective in debates” - Plan of Action for Gender-sensitive Parliaments, IPU, 2013
Women everywhere are breaking the glass ceiling in politics but their voices still go unheard and their contributions are too often sidelined. In many places women are still seen as incapable of taking on responsibility in what are perceived as male-oriented areas, such as finance, energy, economic development, climate change, foreign affairs, defense, trade and infrastructure. This is often the case in parliaments where women are given ‘women’s only’ portfolios or only allowed to sit in women committees and are being pushed away from the other committees because of their gender.
Not just parliaments but all levels of government need to adopt affirmative action measures and amend the internal rules so as to give preference to women over men (according to their capabilities) for decision-making positions (including ministerial positions, committee chairs and leadership positions in the Parliament Bureau) in cases where qualifications are equal or commensurate with their representation in the government.
According to the IPU Plan of Action for Gender-sensitive Parliaments, parliaments need to encourage the proportional and equitable distribution of women parliamentarians across all committees, not just those relating to women, children, families, health and education.
Q1: Should parliamentary committees and ministries be gender balanced (even to the point of appointing a man and a woman as co-chairs in each committee)? Or do you believe that this would increase men’s animosity towards women’s participation? How would you address this?
Q2: Do you agree that affirmative action measures are needed to change women’s participatory and leadership role in parliaments and ministries?
Q3: Does your country have such measures in place? If so, have they proven successful?