The 2020 US elections will again expose the barriers facing female politicians

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

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May 8, 2019

The 2020 US elections will again expose the barriers facing female politicians

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By Martina Fitzgerald,

A recent issue of Vanity Fair featured a cover photo of White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke and his words about the 2020 US presidential race: “I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it.” One wonders what the reaction would be if O’Rourke’s female rivals made such a statement. Ambitious women in politics are treated differently. Voters are less likely to back female politicians if they perceive them as power-seeking, research from the Harvard Kennedy School suggests. More frustratingly, female voters are as likely to hold these negative views. Male politicians escape this “ambition backlash”.

Over the next 18 months these attitudes will be visible for all to see.

The current race for the US presidency has a record number of women seeking the Democratic nomination. The fact that more women want to be president is already a major media talking point. That in itself says much about contemporary political life.

America is not the exception. Despite women accounting for half the world’s population, the parliamentary universe has remained stubbornly dominated by men. One in four of the world’s parliamentarians are women. The numbers are even lower for decision-making positions. Only one in five ministers internationally is a woman in 2019. Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia are the only countries that have 50% female parliaments.

Click here to read the full article published by The Guardian on 7 May 2019.

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