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Can young people break the socio-cultural and institutional barriers for women in politics?

Political institutions have traditionally been created in male dominated societies in which men formulate the rules of the political game.  Although traditional political institutions have undertaken efforts to become more accessible for young people and women, it seems these efforts were not enough to break the hierarchical structure of these institutions. In both north and south, citizens are disappointed with governments, based on concerns of corruption, lack of responsiveness to the needs of the poor and the absence of a sense of connection with elected representatives and bureaucrats. With the flourishing of civil society and new forms of participatory democracy, citizens have forged new paths to representation and activism.  Young people have found a way to have their voices heard, by leading movements such as “Occupy Wall Street”, the “Indignados”, the protests in Tahir Square and many others, where young women have also actively engaged.

•    Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

•    Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

•     Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people? Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?  

Previous e-discussions on youth:            

http://iknowpolitics.org/en/2008/09/young-women-and-political-leadership

http://iknowpolitics.org/en/2007/03/young-people-and-politics

http://iknowpolitics.org/en/2012/07/increasing-young-women%E2%80%99s-eng...

 

 

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Adrianna's picture

I doubt it, really.

I am working in Brussels and never felt as now the male dominance, the pure stereotype male dominance and the submission of, and I want to specify, nòrdic women to this dominance. I am talking if high educated people. 

I am from a Mediterranean country and we talk to  man as an equal , if we do not like something we say what we think,we discuss with them..but  I was astonished by the nòrdic women attitude. I am 35, and the younger women are going completely backwards to defence their rights and i really do not like what I see almost every day

Indra Biseswar's picture

•    Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

First I would like to remark that young people are not a homogenous group anywhere. Differences in locality, region, culture, religion, urban-rural divide, rich-poor divide, etc, all add to their diversity and the diverse ways they deal with issues within their context (which is often highly political, religious, racial, sexual, etc.)

 

The answer to the first question is yes and no.

No because:

  1. Formal politics and alternatives (informal or action politics) are two separate means of operations. They both operate within their own structures.
  2. Civil society alternatives emerge often linked to a concern that does not call for long-term political positioning of activists in the formal politics. This is a form of political engagement where women take an active part in.
  3. Both parties (the formal and informal/action) are comfortable in their ways of operations in current time frame. The formal masculine politics is too powerful to deviate from its source of dominance. It functions by only granting tokens and displays good-will assuring that those do not interrupt its powerbase. Civil society has learned (the hard way) over the years that politics remain a strong enemy to battle with. So how can they have their voices best heard? This is the reason that alternative means are created to pressure and lobby the formal structures with the aim to demand rights and action to social, political, economic and cultural problems. These alternatives are not necessarily aimed at entering politics or creating space for groups (women, youth, elderly, minorities, etc) to become part of the masculine powerbase. They are more often aimed at confrontation and finding allies to advance their cause. If this is the best way the male dominated political base can be approached in current time frame, then that is what civic groups engage themselves with.
  4. The traditional masculine political structure remains undisturbed and only accommodates concerns of civil society after much pressure and lobbying (activism) in the form of one-time things with sometimes sustainable solutions in the forms of legal reforms or policies. When this happens, the role of civic groups and their action politics also may come to an end.
  5. Women realize that working from outside the masculine political structure might provide better means to have their voices heard. I know of female politicians who abandon politics to better address their issues from outside the political structures. Because, when women enter politics, they become part of a political structure and culture where they often have to surrender their activism and lobbying spirit, play the political game according to the rules and display loyalty to their political party. But operating from outside the formal political structure provides them with unlimited and more innovative and challenging means to engage politics. Perhaps this will become the new form of political engagement for women in the future.

 

Yes, because

  1. The positive outcome of action politics is an increased level of awareness on political issues with subsequent political engagement/participation, albeit not necessarily from within the formal political structure.
  2. Action politics is not restricted within boundaries and this can provide women many opportunities to become outspoken, daring and confrontational to have their voices heard.
  3. In the long term this can definitely lead stronger women to enter politics with a no-nonsense attitude.

 

•    Can  young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

Again, the answer to the above question is yes and no.

No because

  1. Young people entering politics do not have the means or power to change existing masculine structures (which is not an easy process: it took the UN 50 years to change its structures, while institutions such as the WB are impossible barriers to break. Many governance structures in developing countries are of the same nature, impossible to stir).
  2. Many young people entering politics are often confronted with huge levels of paternalism and belittled. They are treated as apprentices, not taken serious and often picked on for their low levels of experience.
  3. I noted that some young people entering politics in the Netherlands tend to bring with them their own free, liberated mindsets. This is because they grew up and were educated in a time where the perception reigns that women and men are already equal (including at legal level). Therefore their focus is on different societal concerns such as unemployment, poverty, etc. Being unaware of the history of political struggles create the illusion that one can change everything without much risk. It is crucial that they learn from the past where groups tried to change the masculine, patronizing political structure and gain entrance or even tried to become part of the decision making process and how enduring those were. It requires knowledge of how politics operate at all levels and the lengthiness of processes and change. In Ethiopia, any legal reform on women’s rights can take a lifetime of intensive struggle. Women’s emancipation and leadership in politics thus still has a long road ahead.
  4. The focus areas of young people are often issues that do not go to the level of challenging the structures of political institutions. When students demand for better education or trade related regulations to stop the influx of cheap product that pushes local producers into abject poverty, the political outcome are only at the level of policy change or reforms. They are not aimed to change the internal masculine political structures.
  5. Many young people are not familiar with the masculine political game at different levels. The decision making often remain in the hands of powerful old conservative men (guardians of the party or system). For example: one young politician joining a political party in Surinam tried to integrate a gender policy in its party. This was received with huge resistance from the older members of the party who are the main decision makers of the party.

 

Yes, because

  1. If young people create their own playing fields and do not join the traditional political parties which are rigid in their ancient party programmes, there is hope that a new generation of political culture can emerge. There are not many new political parties emerging yet initiated by young people.
  2. If young people also change their focus areas and include the struggle to change the rigid masculine political structures, there is a chance that they can change the political culture. This is however a very demanding and daring task.

 

•     Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?

 

  • Women’s concerns are not necessarily better addressed by any group, also not young people. Many young people (including young women in western societies) are not fighting any gender battle, not aware of any existing gender discrimination or the history of the women’s rights movements.
  • In developing countries the situation is not much different. Girls educate for jobs and not a social cause due to the expectations of families and high levels of poverty. Among the many educated in Ethiopia, for instance, only a negligible group (in numbers) could be found engaged in women’s rights. However, fear for political repression causes many among these to also abandon the cause. In Surinam, no young woman is considering a career on gender issues or women’s rights.
  • The best fighters behind women’s emancipation, freedom and rights are aging. It is not that they failed to hand over the torch to the next generation, it is more that because of their grand achievements in their times there exists a ‘perceived’ feeling at present among young people that women’s emancipation is a done issue and that women are equal at all levels. Constitutional rights are read as a job done, nothing to fight for anymore. This mis-perception diverts the focus of young people away from women’s rights concerns to concerns that are bring visible impacts in a short period of time (such as the struggle against Monsanto or Occupy Wall Street).
  • The battle against patriarchy is ongoing only among the aging feminists. There is a sense of incomprehension among young people on the cause. I am often challenged even by my peers that I am wasting my time because women’s emancipation in the Netherlands, for instance, is a done deal, it is only in my head.  This is regrettable because women fail to realize the unsustainability of their rights and gains which remain in patriarchal control. It could also be that women in many countries realize that the fight to change patriarchal structures in favour of gender equality is unrewarding and endless. This could be a cause that they turn to issues with more direct output and outcomes. Young people often want to see the outcome of their action. That gives them a boost. Struggling for women’s concerns is not among these.

 

Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?  

 

On the question whether the youth are more sensitive to discrimination: I would again respond yes and no.

No: the youth believes that a person has to work hard and prove themselves in order to get their place in society. Anyone crying that they are discriminated is often frowned upon as something to be blamed by themselves for not doing enough.

Yes: when a young person feels discriminated, chances are that she/he will mobilize public opinion through the use of social media and expose the culprit.

 

On the question whether the youth is more sensitive to gender based violence: This is subject to cultural groups.

No: Young people are raised within their own norms and values. The level of violence against women is still high in many countries showing that young people are also exposed to it. There is also silence thus among these groups.

Yes: Young people do not tolerate violence in relationships (mostly in western societies among some groups) and opt for immediate separation/divorce. They also action by reporting on violence they may encounter.

vlarbo's picture

 

Certainly, any kind of protest calls for large quantities of people, and young women have always been in the political realm even if they historically have not been the “big players” with influential political titles. From fighting for the right to vote, protesting segregation in the 50’s and 60’s, protesting for equality in the workplace in the 70’s, and now in modern times the main causes we see women fighting for revolve around abortion rights, gay rights, rape culture, and gender based violence. I don’t think protests are an ‘alternative’ because they have always been around and women have played a big part in them. A protest doesn’t magically increase participation; a sincere and burning desire for change is what causes women to say “things need to change and I will find a way to help”. That being said, becoming a “big player” is the next step to doing things on a legal level rather just a cultural level. But then we get into the idea about young people and women in particular changing the male dominated political culture.

Women are constrained and pulled away from politics at an early age. Everything from parenting and peer structures to media and general social constructs, girls are not encouraged to go into or think about politics as a career. In a survey conducted in 2012 by GfK Custom Research LLC, 1,013 females and 1,083 males between the ages of 18-25 were asked what they thought was the best way to go about change in our country. 28 men said go into politics while just 15 women said the same. 40 women said going into charity was the best solution versus 15 men. It was also concluded that because less women participate in sports, they have a less competitive drive for winning and in turn less desire to run in politics. So to answer the question, I believe that young people and women in particular can penetrate and begin to change the male dominated structure in the political world, but basic things need to change especially when it comes to the social aspect and parenting. Parents need to stop pushing careers that are ideally male or female based and teach their kids they can aspire to incredible heights despite their gender! What a concept!

The last question in regards to young people better addressing the needs of women: I completely agree. I would much rather have someone I can relate to representing me in terms of generational familiarity than someone who is out of touch with what is important for progress. The youth of this generation have been incredible advocates for advancement and change in the past few years, for instance with the gay rights movement. History books will write about this time! Youth are the key to moving forward with women’s and everyone in general’s equality. I will say with absolute certainty that the youth of this particular generation are almost hyper-sensitive to gender based discrimination. Radical feminists have given ‘feminists’ a bad rap for hating all men, etc. etc., but globally women are standing up for themselves, standing up against domestic violence, becoming aware and educated and their sexualities which is obviously fantastic. When it comes to politics, we are seeing more women involved in places like Rwanda, but there is still much work to be done with discrimination against women in politics. Things like passing the CEDAW bill and having more women in the senate in the U.S. Overall, we are in a great period of history for change, and I’m optimistic that despite any discrimination, women will be persistent for change and realize that being involved politically is the most likely way to make a profound impact.

I know here I haven’t really touched upon the differences between western and eastern perspectives which in reading some of the responses, people have made some excellent points tying in this perspective. But, to me women’s issues are global issues.

TERESA CHARA DE LOS RIOS's picture

I believe that young people are always a major force that drives progress and change circumstances which they consider traditional and unfair.

From my own experience and my work with young people, I have however observed that there is also a dose of selfishness and individualism, which does not necessarily mean they are not courageous. I do believe young people can contribute to breaking cultural barriers for women’s political participation in a way that raises their consciousness and interest in this topic.

Where do we begin?  I think that schools and universities can highly contribute. Young people must see the importance of women’s political participation as a distribution of power and contribution to equal opportunities, if not this issue will not be of interest to them.

(Original comment sent in Spanish).

canaryex's picture

Hi, I truly believe that we can and should try to change society; many people did so before us. It is very difficult, sometimes impossible, it is an arduous, complex and ungrateful mission, but it is absolutely necessary. We have all experienced the need to adapt to our environment, most of the time we have been able to, it is how life functions. However, what is also certain is that if we just follow the previously established script, we consciously or unconsciously continue to cause injustices. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who fought tirelessly and never gave up. It took many years to implement the divorce law in Spain and it was met by a lot of resistance.  To have women accepted in work positions traditionally reserved for men was a very difficult task. It also seemed like women had managed to win the right to choose after many years of protests demanding free access to abortion. Although some progress has been made, setbacks occur and this is precisely why we have to maintain a constant pressure.

(Original comment sent in Spanish).

canaryex's picture

The right to abortion is essentially a natural right for women of all ages worldwide.

(Original comment sent in Spanish).

IvailoG's picture

Hi all,

I do believe the answer is "Yes". I can prove this with an example. In the entire 2013 in Bulgaria (particularly in the capital Sofia) there were civil protests (organized mainly by young people) against corruption and connection between politics and mafia. Among leaders of the protest there were many young women and some of them became faces of various civil society organizations. Currently these organizations participate in political discussions or even propose and draw legislative changes.

Ritachemaly's picture

In my thesis related to the role of new media and its impact on the political system, and following the hypthesis I have confirmed , it appeared that participatory democracy is increasing with the help of new tools and mediums such as social media, such as online networks, and online advocacy. But the core problem appeared to be that the participation remainded confined in the "virtual sphere".

Political institutions needs people on the ground to work on changing them from the inside not only from the virtual part.

The political "game" is now man predominated because of the lack of opportunities offered to women to be able to enter the political sphere or because the women didn't have the "chance" to have a political well-known heritage that can help her be part of premium national insitutions .   With the flourishing new forms of participatory democracy, "normal" citizens have created a new "lobby" group and " networked" with each others to be able to pass through the status quo imposed by some well-know political elite. this can pave the way to alternance and the new choices in the political sphere.

Activism on the ground combined with virtual online activism, that create big and important networks and communities with common interest will lead yound people and women to make their voices heard and will lead to some change. the Examples in Lebanon are numerous, especially after spring 2005.

Rita Chemaly

Author and researcher in Political Sciences

Lebanon

Beeckmans Ruth's picture

Dear Rita,

Thank you for your comment! We are more than happy to publish your thesis and share it with iKNOW Politics members. You can  upload the document yourself or send it by email to connect@iknowpolitics.org 

The iKNOW Politics team

Kabayare's picture

In order to increase young women participation in politics. Women should be educated and economically supported to get opportunities to be more involved in politics .Women should be allowed to attend meeting regarding for politics to get more experience.

greymwamu's picture

 Modeling civic behavior to break the socio-cultural
and institutional barriers for women in politics

            Admittedly, legislative assemblies and political parties are, alongside other bureaucratic
institutions, gendered. The configuration of state hierarchies  enables  men to predominate the higher echelons thus enabling them to wield positional
authority. Additionally, there is a trend towards the institutionalization of a
certain form of masculinity and masculine culture associated with race and
class in political institutions.   In the words of Joni Lovenduski's , 'British
political institutions are characterized by a culture of traditional
masculinity that is a major obstacle to women' (Lovenduski,
2005). The dominance of
masculinity in positions of power and the entrenchment of a hostile culture to
women that is exuded in both the formal and informal channels only serves to relegate
the role of women. Therefore the pressing question is “Can young people break the
socio-cultural and institutional barriers for women in politics?”

The answer to this question is a yes.

            In its
traditional form, politics is limited to adults. Children are likely to learn
from modeling, imitation and apprenticeship. According to a White House Project
Education Fund study, young women and men involved in politics were found to
have been involved in community projects (Ford, 2002). They were born in
families in which civic behavior was modeled by their parents in form of
voting. Hence, this group of young men and women has a higher propensity to
register for voting as opposed to those least involved in community projects. The
men and women in the study who showed interest in running for office were also
found to have had some apprentice leadership opportunity at school. The
research therefore emphasizes that when young girls are provided with mentors, role
models and avenues of practicing politics before transitioning into adulthood
has a positive impact on their interest in politics as well as their ambition
for office. If this project is carried out, then more young people will be able
to register as voters and play a vital role in dismembering the socio-cultural
and institutional barriers for women in politics

 

References

 

Ford, L. E. (2002). Women
and politics: the pursuit of equality. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin.

Lovenduski, J (2005) Feminizing
politics, Cambridge: Polity

TDi1909's picture

Hi, I'm actually doing the research about this topic but based on "Malaysian's perceptions on voters on women's in politics", and mostly they see the politicians performances not genders at all, I would say that this political arena is actually has a strong impact nowadays.I'm a Thai so I don't see any bias between genders (as also Thailand had woman Prime Minister before). So about youths, I think mostly they are still not interested because they see the crisis that happens around the world also they would think that politics is not suitable for them yet.Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?I don't think so, like I said youths still have to have a wider pictures about politicians that what their roles in parliament, etc. But young women in order to compete (I should say it 'cause it's quite a big challenges with men who are still dominated in this area), young women if they want to work in politics field have to have more knowledge, strong and confident enough to make people trust also men candidates as well.Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?- I think if this point, they can do it. But they have to study back to previous period that how women are increasing to be leaders (let's start in Women Right Movement), from what I see now, women not only increasing but also they are showing their performance to the world that they also can do like whatever men do, so to change people's mindset, youths are still the future of the country, they can show elders of how things are changing.Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people? Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence? About women's concerns better by young, I think mostly yes, especially female youths who can voice out for their own gender and about discrimination and gender based violence still on in certain places, but like I said youths are the energy of the country who need to move the people's mindset, trusts or maybe they would make anything that the elders might not see. But youths should show that they are able to do and think things that new, let's put the point in the solutions to overcome any problems, their perceptions and perspectives maybe different from elders.

ameena alrasheed's picture

I enjoyed reading through the diverse perspectives on the issue, and mostly agreed with many of you, and my intake is as follows;

I think Yes... But with contextualization... why?

I agree with many of you on the fact that young people are not a homogenous group, rather they are heterogeneous they serve diverse interests and reflect different needs; they portray the social, racial, political and economic settings in our societies.

That is why we need to be careful when assigning the role of challengers in general, without contextualizing,

Who are these young people?  We need to be as well historically specific in defining them. Not all young people are aware of the importance of women inclusion, and most of them are exposed to many aspects of life that produces stereotypical knowledge on women's issues, and issues of social justice development and inclusion.

Having said that I still think they are a driving force for change if well informed and well fed with knowledge and awareness.

Young people are very important in the fight for inclusion that is why the efforts should be directed towards their inclusion in the overall process of development and progress, they cannot be sidelined in any case, and they should as well be part of all processes from the beginning to reflect on their own needs and aspirations and desires.

Young people, men and women need stimulating platforms and venues that allow their cognitive structure space in the development process; they can serve as stimulating factors towards development and inclusion. I retain current trends that introduce the human rights and peace and gender issues as corner stones in the education system pursued across the globe, and I think that would serve as valid steps towards fostering better and accurate information and knowledge dissemination among young people.   

cewigo's picture

I think that young people can innovatively be brought to the table through dialogue, debates and all these things that positively provoke the mind. Exemplary leaders who can be mentors to the young people are critical in this conversation. I agree with the alternatives that young people have decided to come up with in this century, because then, they are being proactive and intentional in bringing about the change that they want to see. Word of caution :- anger and greed should not be part of the agenda.

Monte McMurchy's picture

Young People [young men and young females] have in the majority of past
societies [France during the revolution; the American Colonies when
seeking independence from England; China during the long march prior to the communist insurgency]
generated social dynamic reflective considerations to the national body politik which did inspire change. Young people need to be engaged within the civic civil social
political public policy process which can be as' thin' in merely voting
or 'thick' in active public political policy engagement which I
encourage must be most civil and polite in pluralistic social civil process. At all times when
fermenting or inspiring civic potential change these active engaged young people must
appreciate and recognize 'the law of unintended consequences' which
dictates that the end outcome may differ considerably from what was
originally intended; [see the three examples provided]. The young/youth
have an obligation to participate within civic civil society presuming considered reflective
thinking, as civic social participation within the national body politik
can and will only enhance the long term civic social process which is long term in dynamic in bridging the divide between male and female political participation.

iKNOW Politics's picture

Young people are our hope when it comes to all political and socio-cultural aspects of everyday life but we cannot generalize and put everyone in the same box.  Yes, it is true that young people have the political duty to worry more about gender issues,  change the macho culture that endures in our political institutions and break the socio-cultural and institutional barriers for women in political. However, these require young  people  to commit to recognizing patriarchy and its social damages so we can work effectively and unfortunately I don’t think all young people are ready to commit to such an understanding.

(Original comment sent in Spanish by Fundación de la mano contigo).

Cox2ke's picture

Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

            I do believe that these alternatives could pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics. Things like “Occupy Wall Street” raise awareness to political issues. Education and awareness are crucial to having anybody participate in politics. With education younger women might feel more confident and passionate about these issues making them want to participate in politics. It is also important for women to know that they CAN make a change. Protests might be a small stepping-stone to something bigger but if young women see that taking action is worth it then surely they will take the next step.

 Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

            I do believe young people can change the male dominated political culture in political institutions. Change has been happening in the male dominated political culture for years now at least in America. Hattie Caraway, the first woman to ever be elected in senate, served two full terms in 1931. Women now are running for president. Even though we definitely want and need more women pursuing politics change is there and it is happening and will continue to happen if young people get the proper education and understand that women are an essential part of political institutions

 Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?

No, I do not believe that young people better address women’s concerns. I think women’s concerns are best addressed by all different age groups. Younger people might be more concerned by things such as access to abortion/ birth control, maternity leave and access to proper healthcare/ assistance during pregnancy. Older generations might be concerned with things like social security benefits after deceased partners death. All of these issues should be addressed by anybody that gets affected by them. Older women are important because they can act as role models and can educate younger women about women’s issues.

 Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?

I believe youth are more sensitive to different types of discrimination such as discrimination due to ones sexuality and gender where older generations might be more sensitive to racial discrimination, at least in America. I think that all generations of people are sensitive to gender based violence, although the younger generations might be more sensitive to gender-based violence when it comes to transgendered individuals. Although some might argue that younger generations of people are desensitized to these issues because of the way media portrays these issues.

 

 

evans2dt's picture

·        
Could these alternatives pave a way to
increased participation of young women in politics?

o  
Yes, these alternatives pave a way to
increase participation of young women in politics. Many of these alternatives
reach popularity though the media and many young people are somehow connected
to media. They also show that women have a voice and many thoughts about
politics. In this way the world see women as a force to be reckoned with and
that they should be taken seriously.  Women
aren’t a tool for the government to use so that the government can unleash their
own pirate agenda and women prove this when they unify and stand for something
that we all believe in. But not only have women have proven it when they unify;
they have also proved it time and time again that they can be leaders and make
change in this world.

o  
But there is always a downside. Yes this
can increase participation of young women in politics but in different places
all around the world young women and women in general are at many times put in
danger, threated or disowned when they participate in different demonstrations
that are fighting for women’s rights or the women are discouraged not to. For
some, this can frighten or keep women from fighting. Not only is this a possibility
but it is hard to change things that have so long been the “status quo”.  Even though (like stated early) women have
proven themselves worthy of leadership many times, sometimes they have not been
given the chance of freedom, leadership or equal rights just because they are
women. The lack of education can also have an effect in this too. In some cases
women are less educated than men.

·        
Can young people change the male
dominated political culture in political institutions?

o  
Women and young people have their own
thoughts and ideas that should be taken into consideration and thought about. The
majority of the people in our world today consist of young people and women.
That’s very important to think about. That the majority needs to have their thoughts
and input heard. But not only should they have a say because they are the
majority, but because they see things differently than men and the older
generation.

o  
The problem though like stated early, it
is very hard to change the “status quo.” Having to make things fair or equal
means that less power, money and status will be among men and more of it will
move towards women and the young. Giving women equal pay for an example would
mean that the government and business would have to either pay women more,
meaning businesses will have to give more money to the workers or pay men less
(which would be taking money and power away from them).

·        
Are women’s concerns better addressed by
young people?

o  
The young people of today will be
tomorrow’s future. Since young people are part of the majority their voices
will be heard. And having them fight in affords to voice women’s concern’s is a
great thing. Women are underrepresented all over the world in politics, so
having young people be the catalyst for women’s concerns can be a powerful
weapon.

o  
But I also wonder sometimes if the young
people that are addressing said issues know enough about the whole issue before
they go about trying to find a way to combat it or fix it. Nowadays many young
people through media and schooling learn about many women issues that they can
stand and fight for so that too can be very helpful.

·        
Are youth more sensitive to
discrimination and gender based violence?

o  
Yes, because the discrimination and the
violence is mostly directed at them. They are the ones that have to suffer most
of the black lash of many crises all over the world.

Violence
against women is not only a violation of human rights but it also has many
effects (mentally, physical and sexually) that can keep them from being a part
of society. When the mother is negatively affected by violence this also
negatively affects the family, which has an even harder and more negative affect
on children.  

 

elleshmeez's picture

The future rests in the palms of the youth’s hands. To often women’s voices are degraded, taken too lightly, or diminished. The youth of today must realize how important it is that women be respected and taken seriously in a political culture that is dominated by males. Creating organizations that give women opportunities of involvement and leadership will increase young women to see themselves as talented, independent, future, women of politics. Young people have the ability to lead the way and change male dominated institutions. In doing so, political institutions and the institutional barriers for women in politics could some day be gender neutral. However, "young people" is a very broad term when we are searching for those who posses certain qualities and ethical values. The young people must be aware of the socio-cultural deprivation that is already at hand and the need to break these barriers. Youths will need to be educated, politically aware, and be open to evolving society as an equal whole. It is important the youth then engages in creating new ways to address issues, find solutions, and collaborate with multiple perspectives while staying confident in their own values. It is crucial to encourage and empower young women in politics, to keep overcoming obstacles and the gendered expectations, such as the domestic sphere. Women must grip their confidence, knowing many will try to go back to the old ways of tradition. Young people must rise above the pressure to fit into society and be the change they wish to see, not only for themselves but also for the generations to come. These ways can help more women to participate in politics. In politics there should be a strive to have an equal representation of voices that come together to create positive policy making in a way that is also equal to others. It is essential for there to be an increase of women in politics or else we will fall deeper into the rabbit hole of chaos.

 

References

Peterson, V. Spike. "Gender and Global Governance." Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium. By Anne Sisson. Runyan. Boulder: Westview, 2014. N. pag. Print.

"Women's Leadership and Political Participation | UN Women - Headquarters." Women's Leadership and Political Participation | UN Women - Headquarters. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

robin2a2's picture

Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

These alternatives will raise awareness of the issues at hand but more than likely are not going to drastically increase participation of young women in the political field. Historically, women have always been very active participants of protests and are still continuing to do so. In order to keep increasing the participation of young women in politics, I believe that education will be a key component. We have already seen how educating young women has greatly increased our participation in the workplace, home, and politics. Women's roles have drastically changed from say the 1950's. We are not just housewives and mothers anymore, we are prevalent in the workplace and we have begun to stand up for ourselves and our rights. Education plays a big part in that. Educating young women in fields that are typically male dominated, such as politics, can also help close the gender gap. 

Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

Yes, I definitely think that young people can change the male dominated political culture in political institutions. As I mentioned above, continuing our education of young people will help spark the change. We not only need to educate our young women but also our young men. The U.S. has already seen a great increase of women in politics over the years. As of 2014 there is a total of 99 women in Congress. This is a pretty high number in comparison with 1954 when the number was only at 18. Obviously there still needs to be a large increase of women participating and I believe that over time this change is going to happen. With the right education and creating the right mindset for our young people, this change will occur.

Are women's concerns better addressed by young people?

Young people are definitely a great catalyst for addressing women's concerns. Young people are the future of the world and are a driving force to society. Having this large force address these issues could really bring about change and provide a voice for the women who are unable to be heard. Many young people all over the world utilize social media and different technologies that can bring about a lot of awareness and action for women's issues. Having the younger generation address these issues also helps to ensure that the next generation will hopefully continue the work on these issues.

Are youths more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?

Yes, youths are usually the most sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence. Many children and young adults are seeing their mothers going to work and helping to provide for the family. Children are seeing their mothers refusing to take the backseat for their husbands. Women are becoming empowered and are embracing their sexualties. Women nowadays are refusing to let men's lives be the only important ones. Many women are standing up for themselves in domestic violence situations and in many other situations. Children and young people see all of these things happening and I believe they will help create the culture change that women's issues desperately needs.  

kmullaney's picture

Young people absolutely have the power to inspire lasting change. Organizations and protests can have an incredible impact on society. The millenial generation has a totally different perspective on women's rights. While older generations have been more exposed to a typically male-dominated society, young people are definitely getting more and more used to the idea that women can do everything men can do. This is made all the more possible by the media, internet and television shows. It doesn't hurt that those controlling the media-- the Western world-- are mainly becoming more and more liberal, meaning they are open to new and progressive ideas concerning women in politics. Sites such as Ted Talks expose people all over the world to real issues and show the ways in which people can contribute. Even in countries where women are openly discriminated, progress is being made. For example, 64% of the Rwandan government is made up of women. Just twenty years ago, this would have seemed impossible. It is incredibly important to remain positive and to believe that any person has the power to make a difference. Every woman must believe that she is worth just as much as a man and deserving of the same privileges. I'm not sure that women's issues are necessarily better addressed by young people, but it is certainly truethat the young people of today will be bringing about the change of the future. I'm certain that more progress will be made concerning women's rights in the next fifty years than has been made in the past fifty years, which is saying something. The reason for this is now more than ever we are aware of the approaches that work to ignite real change.

afinke's picture

  1. Movements can definitely help to pave the way for increased participation in young women in politics.   They can show the leaders that women take interest in such issues, and it also shows the discontent of the people and the unwillingness to tolerate systematic discrimination any longer.  However, this is not the only way that can increase the participation of young women in politics.  I believe that both big and small steps that all work towards the same goal will eventually lead to equality.  Therefore, some other activities could be voting, working for a politician, meeting with local representatives, and being involved in student government.  All of these measures show interest in politics and the desire to affect the political sphere and will hopefully lead to equal representation.
  2. The reconstruction of male dominated politics needs to first come through the reconstruction of gender socialization.  By this I mean we need to discard the illusion of “boy” and “girl” things. Girls should be encouraged to take interest in not only caring for others, writing, etc., but ALSO engineering, business, and in this case, politics.  Girls should be allowed to be interested in things they enjoy.  In addition, girls should be also be encouraged to express themselves and their ideas.  In a patriarchal world, we learn how to make ourselves small and silent.  However, that is not who we are, that is the role that society assigns to us.  Thus, breaking down gender socialization and the thought of “boys” vs “girls” things is a way to begin reconstructing male dominated politics (and male dominated everything else, too).  In addition, young women in politics can change the male dominated political sphere by not simply being a passive woman in politics, but rather, by being a feminist politician who works towards equality and by advocating tirelessly for the “women’s issues” that others seem content in sweeping under the rug.
  3. Women’s concerns are not better addressed by young people.  Women are incredibly diverse, as we come from 195 countries around the globe.  We differ in race, religion, sexuality, age, and class. We are affected by our families, our environment, and the histories of our countries.  Thus, our concerns do not perfectly align and there is no “best” person to represent women.  Instead, we can be open about our concerns and listen to the concerns of other women as well, and hopefully we can all enjoy equality together, someday.
  4.  I don’t think that youth are necessarily more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence, because I think all women are aware and unhappy about this, but do not know what to do about it.  Rather, I think that as generation by generation passes, the youth are more willing and confident in speaking out against discrimination and violence.  I think women have always known it was a problem, but now the group that is willing to challenge what has been seen as a cultural norm is expanding and becoming louder.  More and more women are beginning to challenge discrimination and the social norms in society.

As an ending thought, I would like to say that I think that the battle for women’s equality is not just about “women”.  I think to fight inequality and discrimination for women, the fight against equality and discrimination has to be fought across the board- against racism, homophobia, etc.  I think that every oppressed group is fighting the same battle to change societal norms, and we should aid each other in this big battle toward equality. 

ada.jesuthasan's picture

Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

 Women participating in leading movements such as "Occupy Wall Street", "Indignados"  and the protests in Tahir Square, will definitely increase the number of young women in politics. These movements educate women on how important they are in a political sector. Also, it will capture the focus of women around the world to become more bold and fearless to discuss about women and global issues. This could be an opportunity where young women could share their problems and needs that they were unable to, due to society pressure. I believe such alternatives, will gather many young women to participate in politics.
Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?
 The world's First Woman Prime Minister, was Sirimavo Bandaranayake when she was elected head of Sri Lanka's Government four decades ago. Since the Genocide in Rwanda, women have helped lead the recovery; when such good examples of women exist in this world, definitely young people could change the male dominated political culture in political institutions. If young people could start over, with new institutions, new political culture would emerge and gender inequalities can be cleaned off, unlike before. Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?  Each age group of women have their different concerns. Young women focus on maternity care, birth controls, abortion, higher pay, appreciation etc, while older women care about senior citizen's rights, pension from government, companion after death of spouse etc. Since, each women have their own concerns, young women should look up  to older women while old women take this opportunity to involve in sharing their life experiences with young women. Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?    Yes, youth are more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence. Being treated in a stereotypical way will bring out anger and violence from a young individual. It will affect the relationship with the rest of the young community. It could get worse if a crowd of young people are treated in a stereo typical way, perhaps would cause deviation among youngsters. 

BLWeir824's picture

I think that movements such as Occupy and Los Indignados can be somewhat of a double-edged sword when it comes to increasing participation of women in politics. On one hand, in today’s world of instantaneous global communication of images, the visibility of young women participating in protests and debates can make a world of difference to the young girl catching a glimpse in a newspaper. Young people learn about the world largely through watching and imitating, and therefore I think the biggest contribution these alternatives have made is to show women that other women have roles in the public sphere.

However, I see two main drawbacks. The first is that, while these movements are popular and radical, they have not proved to be overly effective, which could cause the same young women watching to become discouraged and disenchanted with the idea of trying to participate. The second is that, even while visibility of female bodies may have increased, the most visibility will be rewarded to the female bodies that are seen as “desirable” and this excludes many women, including those of color or who do not conform to gender norms.

When asking questions about what young people bring to the table in terms of crossing gender boundaries in politics, the real question I think we are asking is whether or not a “fresh” perspective can lead to institutional change. The problem I see is that these young people have still been raised and educated in these male dominated political institutions. From birth we are still separated by gender binaries and educated in this manner. Even before young people reach puberty, these patriarchal perspectives are becoming so ingrained that it becomes an uphill struggle to see beyond them. It is much harder to reverse this education than it would be if this education were avoided altogether. However, in order to avoid it, the institutions mandating it have to be changed. It becomes a sort of paradox that, in my opinion, can only be “solved” by working with both a top-down and bottom-up approach. Older people who desire change must look to changing educational institutions, because the more young people who avoid being indoctrinated by political patriarchy, the more young people there are to break down those institutions. In the words of Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” 

kidderje's picture

Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

Yes, I believe these alternatives can help pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics. Not only do these types of alternatives gather a large number of youth and young adults together, but they gain a lot of national and global attention through media. The world is very much connected through all different social media types (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) and things tend to spread quickly, thanks partly, to how active and engrossed our culture is in social media today. This forces women to be heard, gives others the courage to raise their voices, and gains attentions and provides momentum. 

Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

I believe young people can play a critical role in this, but I don’t believe this change can rest solely on their shoulders, nor should it. While younger people have certainly been known to be catalysts for change, I think this requires more of a whole community effort. All age groups are affected by politics and changes within the system, therefore all age groups should be involved in their change. Such a large and difficult change will have to occur through the immense support and dedication of the majority of our population. Something also important to note is that young people are not the only people holding political offices. Many political leaders are “set in their ways”. To change this, it will take the effort of the old, the young, and everything in between.

Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?

No, I don’t believe that women’s issues are necessarily better addressed by any one specific group. I believe that different groups have different stakes in the matter, and in order to cover all realms of concern for women, it is important that all generations become engaged and voice those concerns together.

Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?

 While I think gender-based violence is something that affects all age groups, I do think young women are more sensitive to violence and discrimination. It is sad that still, today, there is so much violence in the world- racial, sexual, religious, gender-based… Sadly, young women become targets for things like sexual violence/abuse and domestic violence (although a fair number of men suffer from these acts as well). I believe while older generations do see discrimination and violence, I think many of them have given up on change, and see it as normal and how things are supposed to be. For example, when a younger woman has been raped or sexually assaulted, I have heard older women say she must have been asking for it or that it’s her fault because of the way she dressed or things that she said. So while any age group can, and does, experience gender-based violence and all sorts of discrimination, I believe older generations tend to think of it as the norm and how things have always been and are much more accepting of living with it than are younger generations.  

Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra's picture

E-Discussion “Can young people break the socio-cultural and institutional barriers for women in politics?”

Note:

  1. 1.     Submitted on September 25, 2014 to International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics team on: http://iknowpolitics.org/en/discuss/circles/e-discussion-women-mayors-women-elected-head-villages-towns-and-cities   
  2. Contributor:  Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.), Technical Assistant, Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work, S. N. D. T. Women's University, Patkar Hall Building, First Floor, Room. No.: 03, 1, Nathibai Thackerey Road, Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India. [Email: drskmishrain@yahoo.com  Institutional Web Link: http://sndt.ac.in/ Tel.: +91-022-22066892 (O), +91–022–28090363 (R), +09224380445 (M)]

 

I am researcher & demographer employed with the Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU, http://sndt.ac.in/), Mumbai, India. I pu forth following input / contribution to the E-Discussion “Can young people break the socio-cultural and institutional barriers for women in politics?”:

 

  1. 1.     Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?

Yes, these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics. A youth-friendly legal framework is crucial in enabling youth political participation. In one-third of countries, laws stipulate an eligibility age to run for parliament at 25 years or higher, creating a gap between the legal age of majority and/or voting age, on the one hand, and the age at which an individual can serve in elected office. Since national governments and parliaments can review the legal framework, they can consider:

  • Aligning the minimum voting age and the minimum age of eligibility to run for office;
  • Introducing youth and women’s quotas in electoral laws; and
  • Identifying and addressing context-specific legal barriers to youth participation, such as to facilitate the registration of youth-led organizations.

 

Civil society organizations (CSOs) and political parties could:

  • Review and discuss the legal framework for youth participation;
  • Consider proposals for a youth-friendly legal framework; and
  • Campaign for changes.

 

The pre-electoral period is crucial for encouraging and supporting youth to participate in elections. The civic engagement of youth and youth-friendly political parties are important building blocks, given that education for active citizenship is most effective if students not only read about it in textbooks, but also try it out themselves.

 

  1. 2.     Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?

Young people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population. While they are often involved in informal, politically relevant processes, such as activism or civic engagement, they are not formally represented in national political institutions such as parliaments and many of them do not participate in elections. This can impact on the quality of democratic governance.

 

The inclusion of youth in formal politics is important, as the 2011/2012 Arab States popular uprisings and various occupy movements have demonstrated. In countries in transition, fresh ideas and new leadership can help to overcome authoritarian practices. Where youth-led protests have forced authoritarian regimes from power, significant frustration is likely to arise if youth are not included in new formal decision-making. This can destabilize democratization and accelerate conflict dynamics.

 

The international community has recognized the importance of youth participating in political systems, including through several international conventions and unresolutions. In line with these commitments, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) views youth as a positive force for transformative social change, and aims to help enhance youth political participation. A basic principle is that support for the political participation of young people should extend across the electoral cycle. Capacity development for young candidates, for example, has proven to be more effective as a continuous effort than as a one-off event three months before an election. Young people who participate actively in their community from early on are more likely to become engaged citizens and voters. Another core principle is that youth political participation needs to be meaningful and effective, going beyond token gestures. Capacity development is an integral measure, and while building individual capacities is key, the capacities of organizations and the degree to which an environment enables individuals and institutions to participate in political processes can also be factored in.

 

It has been found to be beneficial when interventions to assist youth are as youth-driven as possible. They can encourage youth to participate in project management, partner with youth-led initiatives, and facilitate youth inclusion in national and local consultation processes, including through new technology. Following a rights-based approach entails considering youth as potential agents of change - as part of the solution, not a problem to be resolved by others. Further, young people are not a homogenous block and other social aspects (such as gender, rural/urban dwelling, ethnicity, language, among others) need to be taken into consideration when designing interventions. In order to stress a message of youth inclusion, initiatives should be transparent, respectful and accountable. To be relevant, they can link to specific concerns of youth such as unemployment, the environment or HIV and AIDS.

 

  1. 3.     Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people? Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?

3.1Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?

Yes, each year over 120 youth activists gather in Washington, D.C. to share expertise with one another and Advocates for Youth staff; learn about the latest findings and legislation that affect reproductive health; participate in trainings; and make a commitment to be lifelong advocates for young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights. Advocates for Youth join a coalition of leading domestic and global organizations spanning:

  • women’s rights,
  • health,
  • human rights, and
  • reproductive justice.

 

3.2Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?

Where there are people, there are gender issues and the potential for gender-based violence. This implies that when young people work, organize, socialize and educate together, gendered dimensions of youth work are ever-present and must be taken seriously. Youth work often aims to increase the participation of young people in society, or to support young people with a certain interest, objective or hobby. Most youth organizations and networks in Europe have formal and informal practices of democracy, which are based in a commitment to the equal treatment of individuals. To involve gender equality in this work is therefore not a huge logical leap. Organizations or projects that specifically work on human rights, citizenship, active participation, minority youth, intercultural learning, anti-racism or anti-discrimination - to name just a few work areas – are intrinsically involved.

 

Many youth organizations work on human rights. Gender equality is an integral part of human rights, and therefore this work is fundamental to human rights work or human rights education. This relationship implies that human rights workers or educators should be knowledgeable about gender issues and gender in-equality, and have the competencies to address them. Conversely, working on gender issues with young people is also an important approach for preventing human rights violations and for strengthening human rights education.

 

In a world of multiple priorities, preventative work often has difficulties in proving its importance because other pressing issues and problems that manifest themselves attract more attention. Nevertheless, youth work and activism are central to preventative educational work in many ways. In Europe, anti-racism education and conflict and violence prevention work have proven that much can be gained through recognizing potential problems and addressing them before they become out of control. Working preventively with gender issues may puzzle some people because prevention involves addressing issues before they become problems. As a youth trainer working with a gender equality project in Sweden described: “When we started the girls group and the boys group at the school, many teachers questioned the need for it. They seemed to question the need to address issues of violence when no-one had been hurt.” However, as working with young people on these issues develops, many of these questions are answered. Specific issues may surface, and more generally, the fact that gendered ideas and stereotypes are so ingrained in society implies that all of us carry them to some extent. A key idea in preventative work is that knowledge can bring action. Knowing that discrimination and violence based on gender take place invites everyone to be an agent of change. Preventative work, in many social and cultural climates, is forced to argue a case for its necessity and effectiveness. When gender does not seem to be a pressing issue, and where preventative work has difficulty in producing measurable results, it is crucial to base programs on good research and background material, and to argue that since results may take years to chart, programs require follow-up and comparisons with similar environments without preventive work. There are various approaches to preventative work in relation to gender. Preventative work should not be understood only negatively, in terms of stopping something from happening, but also positively, as spaced and experiences that allow reflection and personal development.

 

Brief Resume of Contributor (Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra)

Dr Santosh Kumar Mishra is researcher & demographer employed with the S. N. D. T. Women’s University (SNDTWU, http://sndt.ac.in/) located at Mumbai in India. He underwent training in demography from the IIPS, Mumbai, India. (http://www.iipsindia.org/). He acquired Ph. D. in 1999. He is Reviewer/Editorial Board Member for 31 international journals. He has also reviewed papers for 5 international conference sessions, including EURAM 2014 Conference (4-7 June 2014, University of Valencia, Spain, http://site.aace.org). His subject areas of interest include: population & development education, issues pertaining to population-development linkages, education for sustainable development, adult & continuing education/non-formal/extension education, etc. Dr. Mishra has (a) co-authored 5 research studies (published by the SNDTWU); (b) presented 32 papers for national conferences & 11 papers for international conferences, & (c) authored/co-authored 5 handbooks/booklets (published by the SNDTWU, 5 books, & 11 book chapters. In addition, he has 30 articles published in national journals and 18 in international journals.   Dr. was previously awarded Government of India fellowship at the IIPS (1986-1987) and travel scholarship for sharing his research views at international conferences and summits held at Karachi (Pakistan), Dare es Salaam (Tanzania), Stockholm (Sweden), Madison (USA), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Canberra (Australia), and Manila (Philippines). He is Advisory Board Member of the American Academic & Scholarly Research Center (http://aasrc.org/?page_id=38) and Reviewer–cum–International Advisory Board Member for the AASRC 2013 International Conference – Beirut, Lebanon (http://aasrc.org/conference/? page_id=803).

swiftsk's picture

1. Could these alternatives pave a way to increased participation of young women in politics?           These alternative forms of participation would absolutely increase the participation of young women in politics. It increases awareness about political issues on a community level as opposed to a formal political platform. Also young women are more likely to listen to other young women. It makes a bigger statement when the people who are representing a movement are those with whom you can connect with on a personal level. A political figure is not only harder to make a connection with but cannot be as opinionated or bold in their actions or statements. The young women in this participatory democracy however have opportunities to step outside boundaries that political figures cannot and voice their opinions however they please.  2. Can young people change the male dominated political culture in political institutions?            Young people can definitely change the male dominated political culture in political institutions. Young people have different and fresh ways of seeing things. Many times they can come up with an idea or find opportunities that older members of political institutions cannot because they are so used to the “norms” of previous years and are blind to productive change. Young people make up a majority of the population and their ideas should be heard. This however is a tough objective; the masculine political structures will automatically look down on young people and treat them as a lesser party because of their lack of experience. One way to try and fix this issue might be to focus on higher political education. In Jordan for example the UNDP has created a youth program with the Ministry of Political Development (MoPD). They are learning in depth about politics, holding mock elections, having interactive training on public speaking and learning how to use social media as leverage (something older political figures wouldn’t have association with). If we can educate young people even more they might be able to have a chance in changing the existing political institutions. 3. Are women’s concerns better addressed by young people?            I don’t think that women’s issues as a whole are expressed well by young people. For the most part they haven’t been educated about many major existing issues or repercussions from them, where has older women have most likely been experiencing these issues for most of their lives. Younger women however might be better addressing concerns that mostly apply to them. For example a demand for lower tuition costs, concentrating on the issue of inflation, or the national debt that we are eventually going to have to pay off. These types of issues are different than the ones older women have been dealing with. In the end all women have a voice to speak out however some might be better appointed than others on certain issues. 3. Are youth more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence?            Yes youth are much more sensitive to discrimination and gender based violence. Look at history; discrimination wasn’t necessarily something that was as negative in society as it is today. Now however the idea of segregation is appalling to most people when less than 50 years ago it was the norm. There are organizations and movements for the LGBTQ community that never existed before. Not to mention the fight for marriage equality is such a prominent issue in society. The more advancement we make in the action for equality and the prevention of violence the more sensitive young people become. This is a good thing, sensitivity means compassion and understanding for one and other which will can lead to peace in women and the world.  

cms27's picture

From the beginning of their lives young people have been socialized into our society. This includes sex-role stereotyping that parts the seas of the genders, dividing people and gendering such intangible things as household chores, school performance, choice of career, hobbies, and activism. Further complicating such divisions are additional categories of identity and their ingrained expectations such as those of biological sex, appearance, ability, language, race, class, religion, sexual orientation, etc. In this context the youth of today have been subject to the male-female dichotomy, and further identity markers, as have generations passed. While gender role expectations may have loosened its stringency slightly with time, aspects of socialization maintain a much stronger control over our lives than many of us would like to believe.

However, I do find that in some small ways there are signs of change. Although nowhere near parity with men, women as leaders are now an accepted part of society, even listened to and taken seriously. As this is even more true outside formalized, traditionally “masculine” institutions perhaps these “alternatives” are a place in which women could gain traction as political beings.

 

But the direct path I see aims to eliminate the process of gender-role stereotyping from the beginning. Increasing the funds available for social welfare and education would be an initial step in doing so, a step that could be catalyzed by these “alternative” political forces. Prioritizing social welfare and education (especially over military and incarceration spending) would symbolize a shift in preference from “power-over” toward “power-to”. With this newly available funding social programs would expand to educate parents, and education would broaden to educate students, about feminist theories and issues. Additionally, new guidelines for media would need to be put into place, ones determining an appropriate (read: equal) amount of screen time, dialogue, and protagonists for people of varying identities. Finally, groups could provide trainings to religious organizations on feminism. These major institutions—the family, the media, religion—teaching equality on the basis of gender(+ additional identities) coupled with governmental quota systems has the potential to change not only the number of women in politics but the ideas that all peoples involved in politics may hold. And with young people of today being more aware of gender issues, while they themselves are often still constrained by their socialization, perhaps they are ripe to initiate such change as mentioned above so as to allow future generations a more equal playing field.