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Women mayors, women elected as head of villages, towns and cities

While women have made great strides in politics, there are still some glass ceilings to be shattered among these are women’s access to local offices and particularly their election as mayors.

The first woman mayor recorded is believed to be Susanna Madora Salter of the United States who served as mayor of Argonia, Kansas in 1887[1]. Since then women have been elected as mayors in cities around the world - but mostly only since the 1970s[2]. Progress on this front has been very slow: More than a century later from the election of the first woman mayor only 18.4% (249 of the 1.351) mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000 are women (January 2014); Only 13 out of the largest 100 cities in the U.S had women mayors (13%) and only one of the nation's 10 largest cities is run by a woman[3]. The number of women mayors in some other countries is still even more limited.

Today, the countries with the highest proportion of women mayors include Mauritius (40%), New Zealand (26%), Serbia (26%), and Latvia (25%) and with 500 women mayors and vice-mayors, China holds the record for the country with the most women mayors.

It is notable that women’s occupancy of mayoral positions across the globe has been less than their presence in parliaments and there seems to be a greater lag in women’s access to executive branch positions. Perhaps voters are more likely to expect them on the council, but there are concerns and stereotypes about women taking charge, being a leader and being able to manage a bureaucracy and a big budget. Or perhaps voters aren't reluctant to elect women to executive office but not enough women run and it’s not because they don't have the credentials or the background. Women make up 51% of the population and are receiving higher levels of education at a faster pace than their male counterparts so the issue is why is that not sufficient to get them to run for office.

In this e-discussion we look forward to hearing your opinion on any of the following:

  • What are the biggest challenges facing women’s access to mayoral offices?
  • Do you know of any mechanisms/ good practices that have been installed to foster women’s access to mayoral office?
  • Do you think there are any advantages to having a woman mayor? Are cities with woman mayors more responsive to the needs and rights of women?

We invite our users to read exclusive iKNOW Politics interviews with women Mayors from around the world:

Adelma Salas, President of the Paraguayan Network of Women Municipal Leaders

Emma Yohanna, Candidate in the Municipal elections of Padang, Indonesia

Janet Mikhael, the first female mayor in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Sylvina Murni, Mayor of Central Jakarta, first woman Mayor in Indonesia

 


[2] 1893: election of first woman in the British empire; 1918 Russia; 1928 first in Latin America (Brazil); 1930s: Philippines, Canada and Australia; 1950s:Turkey

There are 23 Comments in this language version, More comments are available in different languages.

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greymwamu's picture

The fact that ore women tend to be elected to mayoral positions as opposed to executive positions such as cabinet is in itself a clear pointer that women are still discriminated. Women are still given an opportunity to lead those positions that are relatively low while being denied the chance of heading higher offices. Election of the mayor varies from one jurisdiction to the other. Notably, in some jurisdictions, a mayor is directly elected by the people. Contrastingly, other jurisdictions allow the mayor to be elected by representative in the areas such as councilors or whatever name they are referred to.

There are a number of challenges faced by women in achieving representation in governance structures. This has resulted in their participation being limited  as a result of the widely held assumption that their proper sphere of participation in the private arena. This simply means that they are confined to the household and the family. However, women have a great contribution to make in the position of mayor as they are most likely to make and implement policies that bring peace and desired outcomes for them and their children. Generally, women have a higher propensity to be more care giving to their families and thus being elected mayor implies that their policies will be  directed at improving lives of everybody

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greymwamu's picture

Seatle was the first American City that elected a woman, Bertha Landes, as a woman mayor. This made headlines across the nation and signaled a new era in politics. However, after just two years, they rebelled against Landes and termed her rule as “petticoat”. Despite the fact that Seattle has a very progressive image – having had a woman governor and senator- the city has never elected a woman mayor for 6 years since Landes left. Surprisingly, over the 86 years, no woman has ever appeared on the ballot for the position. During the 2013 mayoral election, indications were clear that the trend was likely to persist. This is a puzzling phenomenon that needs more investigation. Admittedly, there is an underrepresentation of women in most executive positions within the United States

Admittedly, in recent decades, women have made substantial gains in political representations. However, the top political offices in the United States have remained male dominated-in particular, the big city mayoral positions. Moreover, in the largest 100 cities in the country, only 12 of them had women mayors as at 2012.Further, some cities such as Los Angeles and New York have never elected a woman mayor. However, in the small cities, 17% of the populations with a population of less than 30,000 are led by women mayors. This happens in Washington, with cities such as Kent, Tacoma and Spokane that have at least had women mayors. As at 2012, the number of women in legislative bodies was relatively higher: 18% of the seats in congress were held by women and 24% of the seats in the state legislature were equally held by women. These numbers are very low compared to the population of women .So why do men hold a form grip on political offices?

A study carried out for the Women & Politics Institute at American University established that there was a substantial gap existing in political ambition between the men and women: Men have a great ambition compared to women. The study established that whom  are less likely to talk themselves out of vying for office relative to men. Despite the fact that women and men may perceive themselves as less qualified to run for office, the men still go ahead to run for office while women do not.

Women also perceive the electoral environment as biased and discriminative on female candidates, a perception that is aggravated by the struggled that Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton faced at the national front. The other barrier is that women have the responsibility of being tasked with childcare and household chores than the men.

The study then asserts that when women actually run for office, they have an equal chance of succeeding than their male counterparts based on fundraising and electoral results

References

Brunner,J.( February 2, 2013) Why don’t we have a woman mayor? Seattle Times. Retrieved        on September 24, 2014 from       http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020275703_femalemayorsxml.html 

 

 

 

greymwamu's picture

The involvement of women in politics seeks to not only change the tenor and culture of politics but importantly, it seeks to change the legislations and policy outcomes. Female politicians are very reliable advocates of contemporary societal issues such as children matters, women’s healthcare and gun control. Moreover, they are less likely to adopt the winner take all mentality due to their propensity to make compromises

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton can attest that the media plays a significant role for women seeking elective post such as the Mayor position of a city .The media covers female and male candidates differently and the trend is not about to change.

A conducted to ascertain why women remain so underrepresented in American politics established that there were seven factors seven factors that contribute to the gender gap – either by directly impeding women’s political ambition, or by making the decision calculus far more complex and complicated for women than men:

1. Women tend to be more likely to perceive the electoral environment as highly biased against them and very competitive.

2.  Sarah Palin’s and Hillary Clinton candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral field

3. Women tend to be much less likely than men to regard themselves as qualified to run for office.

4. Potential female candidates are less confident, less competitive and more risk averse relative to their male counterparts.

5. Women reaction to several aspects of modern campaigning is more negative   than men.

6. Women are less likely than men to receive the suggestion to run for office – from anyone.

7. Women are still bear more responsibility for the most of the household tasks and childcare.

Certainly, the dissemination of information regarding the electoral environment and recruiting female candidates can play a significant role in narrowing the extant gender gap in ambitions and ultimately shore up the representation of women. However, most barriers to women representation in politics can best be overcome by political and cultural changes.

Reference

http://www.american.edu/spa/wpi/upload/2012-Men-Rule-Report-web.pdf

greymwamu's picture

In recent times, women serving in public offices at various levels of government have phenomenally increased. However, the pertinent question remains: is the increased number of women having any difference? Are they making any distinctive impact on the political process and public policy issues? These are central questions in studying the impact women have in politics. The Impact of Women in Public Office is a book that examines the impact of women serving in various offices at both local, state and national levels. The research presented provides anecdotal evidence that women in public office have a gender related impact in the political process and public policy. However, the impact of women in public places tends to considerably vary from one political environment to another. This therefore implies that the election of a woman mayor will have the impact of infusing public policy approaches that cater for the general population through a consultative manner

 

linda-vlga's picture

Thanks for the wonderful interviews. Mayors in Victoria, Australia, hold office for only 12 months in general. In 2013, we reached 30% of mayors being women, but each year the numbers go up and down. Talking with women mayors and those who have been mayors, they all say how they valued the experience and the opportunity to achieve for and learn even more about their communities. Often they will say that young girls and their mothers told them how wonderful it was to have a women mayor as a role model. More stories about women mayors and women councillors on the website Now You're a Councillor www.nyac.org.au

Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra's picture

  • What are the biggest challenges facing women’s access to mayoral offices?

It has been apparent for some time that women are under-represented in local government, both as council members and within senior staffing positions. No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind. This is why the international community believes that gender equality is critical to shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace, and why investing in women and girls worldwide is critical to advancing global development policy. Advancing the full participation of women and girls in the political, economic, and social realms of their countries is a key. When women and girls are empowered, educated, and equipped to contribute to their societies, their families and countries are more likely to prosper, and be more stable and secure.

  • Do you know of any mechanisms / good practices that have been installed to foster women’s access to mayoral office?

Women Mayors' Link (WML) is an initiative of the Stability Pact Gender Task Force (SP GTF, http://www.gtf.hr/), a project developed in 12 countries and territories of the Stability Pact (SP) Region with the Equal Opportunities for Women Foundation (SEF) as the lead organisation. Direct beneficieries of WML are 50 selected women mayors from targeted SP countries and territories: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYRoMacedonia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo/a, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia. Begun in 2002, the purpose of the WML is to foster cooperation between women mayors and local governments and local women's networks in preparing small projects to improve the quality of life of women and children in local communities. Its aims are initiate and facilitate regional and international exchange of best practices in similar projects; lobby for a better representation of women in local government; and support efforts of women mayors in increasing people's participation in the problem-solving process of their communities.

 

From its inception in 1999, the Stability Pact Gender Task Force focused on political empowerment of women. It continues to be involved in training and campaigning for more women to be elected in local governments in 12 out of 13 countries/territories of the Stability Pact region. As a result of the Task Force's work, the very first women mayors were elected in Macedonia. In Albania, the number of women mayors doubled, while women mayors were elected in the capitals of Belgrade, Ljubliana, Zagreb. Romania had the biggest number of women mayors in the region and in most of the small impoverished rural localities where men were not interested to take the responsibility for poorly paid and hopeless positions. However, in Slovenia, the situation is different. Less than eight percent (8%) of the localites have women mayors but these are the most developed cities.

 

  • Do you think there are any advantages to having a woman mayor? Are cities with woman mayors more responsive to the needs and rights of women?
    • Do you think there are any advantages to having a woman mayor?: Now, a growing number of consultants and corporate leaders swear by a new strategy to boost the bottom line, one that departs from the standard bag of tricks: put more women in charge. Several studies have linked greater gender diversity in senior posts with financial success. For decades, women's advancement has been seen as an issue of fairness and equality. Now some researchers are saying it should also be seen in another way: as a smart way to make money. And if the high-level women do directly cause better performance, it is not entirely clear why. One possibility is that women enjoy an edge in understanding the consumer market: by some estimates they make 80 percent of consumer purchases. Another theory is that gender diversity stimulates more vigorous discussions, resulting in smarter decisions. More controversially, women may on average exhibit a different, and fruitful, leadership style
    • Are cities with woman mayors more responsive to the needs and rights of women?

(a)  Women are highly committed to promoting national and local policies that address the socio-economic and political challenges facing women, children and disadvantaged groups.

(b) Women are particularly effective in promoting honest government. Countries where women are supported as leaders and at the ballot box have a correspondingly low level of corruption.

(c)  Women are strongly committed to peace building, as they often disproportionately suffer the consequences of armed conflict. Reconstruction and reconciliation efforts take root more quickly and are more sustainable when women are involved. By helping women become participating members of a democracy, one can look to mitigate conflicts or stop conflicts before they begin.

(d) Women are strongly linked to positive developments in education, infrastructure and health standards at the local level. Where rates of gender development and empowerment are higher, human rates of development and standards of living are also higher.

 

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).

Frieda K. Edgette's picture

Here in California, women comprise 50.3% of the Golden State’s population, but only 25 to 28% of local seated electeds. A GrassootsLabs and Leadership California Institute study found that 28% of state and county, and 25% of local government electeds are women. Similarly, the League of California Cities' Women's Caucus and California Women Lead report that 40 percent of cities have only one woman on their councils.

Underrepresented? Yes. Of California's 482 cities, Oakland is leading the state with 66% of its local elected body being women. Additionally, all of Oakland's elected office holders (mayor, city attorney and city auditor) are women.

How did we get here? There are inevitably numerous factors that may be contributing to this. Below are three observations.

1. STRONG, VISIBLE WOMEN POLITICAL ROLE MODELS

Oakland's state and national representatives are women. In the California State Legislature, there is Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and, her predecessor, the Honorable Loni Hancock serving in the state Senate. Attorney General Kamala Harris is leading the state's Department of Justice. There is Secretary of State Debra Bowen, and there are two women running for State Controller this November, one of whom is Board of Equalization Director Betty Yee. Additionally, there is Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Both Boxer and Feinstein started in local office and have more than twenty years each serving in the national arena. These women's ages, ethnicities, interests, niche expertise, and personal stories are broad and diverse. Although research varies on what cultivates strong leaders, there is consensus that role modeling plays a significant part in building leadership.

2. ORGANIZATIONAL COLLABORATION

Oakland has a number of civic-minded women's organizations offering technical, skills, financial and emotional support for women serving in public office across the political trajectory. 

Nonpartisan organizations like IGNITE cultivate political education and ambition in high school and college age women. These are formative years that build sense of purpose, confidence and knowledge. The National Women's Political Caucus - Alameda North, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to engaging, educating, recruiting and supporting women into appointed and political office, is highly visible in its community. It has a strong advocacy arm for issues impacting women, such as health, minimum wage and governance. This has earned it the respect of male and female political leaders, the media and the public. There are education focused organizations like the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women that track legislation and hold educational forums. California Women Lead conducts appointments trainings, and Emerge CA trains Democratic women committed to running for office. Each offers a unique value proposition within the civic fabric.

Increasingly, these organizations are leveraging their shared vision of gender equality in civic spaces and working more effectively in a networked way. They partner on events. They speak before their respective memberships. They exchange knowledge on effective structural development. They cross promote. There is a cross organizational sisterhood. This builds pipeline. This increases name recognition, expands access to fundraising networks, and unites around our shared commitment to elevating women’s representation in legislative and executive political positions. Two recent studies conducted by Political Parity and the Institute for Women's Policy Research reinforce something we’ve intuitively known for some time: greater collaboration between women’s organizations is needed to recruit more women candidates and to have them be successful elected leaders. Imagine the unified power of our women’s political groups: locally, regionally, statewide and prepping for, in the United States, our first woman President come 2016?

3. ITERATION

Lastly, there is a holistic (re)framing and approach that all issues are women's issues. This expands the dialogue we have. This offers an invitation to men to collaborate. The recent UN Women #HeForShe campaign is one example of reframing the dialogue on what "feminism" means. The campaign communicates that, in order to achieve gender equality, we need our male allies walking with us, speaking with us, endorsing us, and helping sponsor legislation with us. 

This is a complex issue with no one answer or one approach. The above is offered as observations of what is working well in our shared effort to achieve gender equality in political spaces.

Links:

http://www.leadershipcaliforniainstitute.org/sites/all/files/Women_2014.pdf

http://cawomenlead.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Women-on-CA-City-Counc...

http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/building-women2019s-political-care...

http://www.politicalparity.org/research/shifting-gears/

http://www.nwpcan.org

http://www.ignitenational.org

http://www.cawomenlead.org

http://www.emergeca.org

iKNOW Politics's picture

In Argentina, we currently have a female president in her second term and a representation of about 40% of women in the legislature. But we still have few women mayors (called governors here). Indeed since 2011, we have only had two in the country, and this is a historical fact. 

It is clear that increasing women’s presence in politics helps to highlight gender issues. But I think their presence is not the only factor for change, as women are not a homogeneous group. Indeed, each woman has a particular perspective that is not always necessarily gender focused. 

I think the barriers to women’s political participation are the same as those found in other areas and are related to the unequal distribution of family responsibilities (children's education, sick family members and housework) which almost exclusively fall on women and, therefore, result in a double work shift and further constraints to opportunities for professional and personal development. 

Click on the following link to see the data on the number of women participating in the legislative power of Argentina and their contributions. 

http://www.sesionaronline.com.ar/shop/detallenot.asp?notid=3421 

Comment originally sent in Spanish by Romina Zamborain

Amina Alrasheed Nayel A Professor's picture

There are positive trends in the examples sited so far, the case of Rezan Sugurli in Turkey and other cases. This makes it evident that women who assumed a Mayor's position can make changes that are responsive to women and that have a different cognitive style emerging from women's perspective, just like women members in Parliament, the quantitative side could be labeled as absolute positive while the real outcome may differ, the overall experience of women occupying leading positions is a fruitful experience after all. The societal factor women usually concerned with, help in boosting a healthy and safer cities, women tend to pay attention to small details that affects their well being , and hopefully women inclusion in the task of  Mayors of cities could generate positive and encouraging results.   

iKNOW Politics's picture

Hello, I am Tere Dominguez from Cuernavaca, Morelos in Mexico. I am a member of parliament and I am very interested in implementing a common strategy in our country (Mexico) in order to have more women mayor through the electoral reform, which already guarantees parity; however it is not very clear when it comes to mayoral positions. What can we do together from our end to change this reality?

Comment originally sent in Spanish by Tere Dominguez

iKNOW Politics's picture

Hello,

In Lima, Peru, we have a woman mayor, Susana Villa De la Puente. Unfortunately it has been a difficult experience because she has been the victim of political harassment. She has focused her policy on social issues, and her public policy has focused on the needs of "the person", something which has not been done by others, seeing they have focused on construction projects which were useless in terms of contributing to the well-being and / or citizenship.

Under Susana Villar, many actions have been completed and many policies have been formulated for women. The "Gerencia de la mujer," a political training school for women, programs for women entrepreneurs with limited resources, a special participatory budget to achieve equality between women and men were created; gender equality has been systematized and integrated in various metropolitan policies (such as regional joint development plan, the regional plan for citizens security, participatory budgeting, etc.), centers of integral support for women victims of sexual violence were created etc.

 

All this has been put in place because the mayor is sensitive to gender issues and recognizes the importance of working on women's empowerment. However I do not think the mere fact of being a woman ensures a gender focused agenda.

Comment sent by Ivonne Yupanqui Valderrama

iKNOW Politics's picture

Hello to all participating to this forum. I live in Mexico, I have an association whose main objective is to promote women's social and political leadership in various states of my country (Mexico), this means that this issue is of interest to us and it seems to me very appropriate to make it the topic of discussion, because every time there are elections in my country (including the next ones  in 2015), we look at each party's lists to find a significant number of female candidates going for popular positions such as senators, congressmen, mayors, councilors. They may be included in the lists to meet quotas, however when the time comes to set and enforce their policies, many of them, those who worked to get the position, those who rely on political capital, eventually negotiate to make room for their party’s interests. I have seen the number of women in political offices going down, even today, we do not have a woman governor (and yet we have had two in the past). In the media, it is men’s voices that resonate and gradually women’s presence and voice in decision-making spaces are disappearing. And it's the same at the local level, I have had the opportunity to work with women at the top of municipalities, councilors and it is very sad to note that in many cases they do not have the basic knowledge needed to fulfill their administrative duties, they do not recognize their leadership, their influence, the importance of partnership and negotiation.

Women mayors and all those who occupy an important position in the public domain are not visible in the media as are men. They need a better communication strategy so that other women know and recognize their leadership which is undoubtedly much needed in our country. From my point of view, women’s presence in politics in my country is fading away because now other issues are on the public agenda; presidential visits, political reform, violence, disappearances, but we do not know how women are involved in these issues, what they think and what they propose to solve the problems of our country.

 

Comment sent by ACCIHAM

iKNOW Politics's picture

In Cameroon, the proportion of women mayors by region is less than 10%, with a downward trend in the northern part of the country. Indeed, despite the recent legislative measures that promote women’s participation in electoral contests at all levels, it is clear that the political class (predominantly male) has not yet accepted or shall I say gotten used to the new situation. In the last municipal elections on 30th September 2013, almost all political parties limited the number of women candidates to the minimum threshold (about 30%) set by the law. Thereafter, few women were nominated by their peers to integrate municipal executive bodies and even less were placed at the top. However, the handful of women mayor in office is in charge of relatively large constituencies and enjoys a certain good reputation both in their political and within local populations. These are mostly charismatic leaders who have set themselves apart from their male counterparts in their ability to respond to the needs of their communities by implementing concrete initiatives. 

The main challenges that these women face are the condescending attitudes from their political opponents and sociological factors related to women’s role and place’s limited representations. The combined effect of socio-political constraints and socio-cultural biases hampers the emergence of a structured political empowerment dynamic. Consequently, little contact between women leaders is created which goes along the lines of promoting their status.

Comment sent in French by Ngaleu Thierry

Blanca Inés Durán Hernández's picture

Bogotá has failed to elect its first woman mayor, despite having elections since 1986. We have only had 3 female candidates with a real chance of being elected however they have failed to get elected.

Next year, elections are taking place in Bogota and it is likely that a woman will be elected. I hope that it will be a big administration or else there will be fewer options for women.

iKNOW Politics's picture

We have focused our research on this, we have even published a book on the political participation of women in the Mercosur countries at the Uniciencia University of Colombia. The challenge is not to only meet the quota laws but also to promote democracy within political parties. 

Comment sent in Spanish by SUCAMPA

iKNOW Politics's picture

In Nicaragua, it was established, through the reform of the electoral law of May 2012, that the lists of candidates of political parties must be gender-balanced (Act 331, Art. 82). During the municipal elections which took place this year, the reform resulted in the election of 55 women mayors out of a total of 153 municipalities (36%). It is certain that relying on a favorable legal framework represents a great opportunity, but there are obstacles to overcome both within political institutions and within society itself. Some political parties have reformed their policy to ensure women and men’s access to internal positions as well, following women’s political management. We lag behind with respect to women and men’s political preparation, but there is a gradual increase in women's decision-making at the national and regional level within political parties and a gradual opening of new opportunities for the strengthening of women’s political participation. 

Comment sent in Spanish by Marlene Alvarez

iKNOW Politics's picture

I think that as a woman, it is not enough to be politically prepared, we must also learn to be by knowing every single details of the local laws and be trained in public administration so as not to commit any mistakes or made to commit any. The mayor of Lima, Susana Villarán’s experience, is a prime example of how we must also fight political bullying. She is trained, has realized many major construction projects and has implemented many reforms for the city of Lima, more than any other mayor who preceded her, but just because she is a woman, she has been heavily criticized; her opponents have taken advantage of the slightest mistake to discredit her. 

The benefit of having a female mayor is that she will fight against corruption. 

Comment sent in Spanish IvoncitaGo.

MARIPAO's picture

Are there any advantages to having a woman mayor? Are cities with woman mayors more responsive to the needs and rights of women?

There are advantages only if she is sensible to gender issues and if she puts in place positive measures to improve the status of women in her government. There are no advantages to her being a woman if she is not aware of gender issues. In addition, she must also be professionally trained in order to lead her administration.

Cities which have female mayors are not necessarily more responsive to the needs and rights of women. Sensitivity to the needs and rights of women is not only limited to the person's gender.

roxanasilvach's picture

In Ecuador, the constitution is an important step towards the protection of priority groups, seeing the state’s actions focus on inclusion policies. In my case, as National Electoral Advisor, I have contributed to the implementation of affirmative actions within the electoral sphere. Despite the country's requirements that candidate lists be gender-balanced (50/50) and various initiatives that promote women's political participation, women’s effective participation in local governments in the country is still very low.
During the elections that took place on 23rd February 2014, candidacies were to be gender-balanced and this was achieved:
16,317 male candidates (57.9%)
And 11 863 female candidates (42.1%),
Despite this, the election results were not gender-balanced:
4184 men elected (74.3%)
And 1444 women elected (25.7%)

Currently, in Ecuador we have:
- 2 women prefects, equivalent to 9.5% of prefectures (23 in total)
- 16 women mayors, equivalent to 7.8% of municipalities (221,294 in total)
-294 urban female councilors urban, 33.7% of urban municipalities (867 in total)
-109 rural female councilors, equivalent to 24.4% of rural municipalities (487)
-1023 Female members of parish councils, equivalent to 24.8% of a total of 4079.

The numbers speak for themselves, Ecuadorian women’s local participation continues to decline. What I can deduce is that women continue to be relegated to the private sphere, with low participation in the public sphere or even lower in politics.
However, in Ecuador the appearance of an unprecedented phenomenon marks a milestone in the history of women's political participation. During the general election of February 17, 2014, 38.2% of those elected to the National Assembly were women and 61.8% were men. In addition, the current president and two vice-presidents of the state’s power are women. Given this situation, several issues challenge institutions to further strengthen participation. There is still a long way to go, but it is important to continue to move forward, effectively, to achieve real equality.

iKNOW Politics's picture

A woman in such a position faces challenges every day. If a woman commits the slightest error, she is harshly judged, but if a man makes a mistake he is said to be “a man”. The challenge for women is to constantly have to fight to reach their goals and always being in a constant state of readiness. 

Comment sent in Spanish by Melania (Peru).

TERESA CHARA DE LOS RIOS's picture

In Huánuco, Peru, every time that there are elections, we notice that there are fewer women candidates running for mayor. One major obstacle is funding. Women candidates have no financial support from parties or the State. This forces them to use their own personal funds and few women are willing to do so because usually women prioritize household expenses or children before a campaign. Additionally, women's leadership within political parties and movements is still very weak.

Some people who are willing to finance a female candidate’s campaign, provided that once she wins the elections, she carries out construction works or promotes projects undertaken by the municipal entity.